Top tips for packing healthy lunchboxes without the morning stress
Updated: Feb 23
Are your kids heading back to school soon? Are you dreading the usual morning headache of what to put into the kids’ lunchboxes? If any of these questions sound like you, then read on for my top tips on how to provide a healthy lunchbox and avoid being swallowed up by the ‘morning stress’ this year.
Build a freezer stash
Use some of the remaining school holiday time or allocate regular baking sessions at weekends to fill your freezer with healthy snacks and even lunchbox-size meals. If the kids are up for it, get them to help too; the greater the involvement in the kitchen, the more likely the kids are to eat it. Fill the freezer with savoury muffins (filled with extra veggies), zucchini slice, homemade sausage rolls, mini pies, pizzas and scrolls, low-sugar treats like muesli slices, banana bread, tray-bakes muffins & biscuits. You could also roast a whole chicken and freeze the slices (separate with baking paper so it doesn’t stick). Or freeze lunchbox-size leftovers from a main meal eg bolognaise, meatballs. For most items, simply load the lunchbox with the frozen item (just make sure that the item is previously cut to a size that fits the lunchbox), it’ll defrost by lunchtime; alternatively, remember to put in your fridge the night before to defrost in time.
Plan for the week ahead
Allocate some time at the weekend to plan the week’s lunchboxes. Ideally, this should be before you do your shopping to make sure you have everything you need for the week. Does your plan include a variety of nourishing foods like vegetables, protein, healthy fats? Ask the kids for at least one fruit and one vegetable that they would like in their lunchbox. Minimise your reliance on processed and packaged foods. Check the labels carefully for the ones that you do choose to avoid trans-fats, too much sugar and so on. Write your plan down, so that each morning you (or your kids, if old enough) know what to put in without too much thinking. Check your freezer stash – does it need topping up? Are there meals you are having where you could make double and save the leftovers for lunchboxes?
Check your plan. Is there anything that needs defrosting early? Is tonight’s dinner going to provide leftovers that are suitable for the lunchbox? Can you chop or slice any of the veg early? If it’s hot, don’t forget to put the filled water bottle in the fridge overnight to cool it down. Make sure the ice-packs have been replaced in the freezer from today.
A stress-free morning routine
So this is it. With all the right planning, your morning will be a breeze, especially if your kids pack their own lunchboxes. Simply, lay out the lunchboxes - fill with the key elements (see next week’s blog post for more on this) to make a healthy lunchbox. You may need to chop some fresh veg or fruit, or compile a nourishing sandwich or pasta/rice salad (if not done the night before) but with the ingredients to hand this is going to be a lot easier than before. Don’t forget to add an ice pack and take a water bottle.
Planning is the key to a stress-free morning routine. Healthy lunchboxes can be made with foods that your child will eat every morning; there is no need to rely on the highly processed, packaged foods that are so commonly found in many kids’ lunchboxes, affecting their behaviour, learning and long-term health. An extra bonus is that you will probably save money and most definitely will do your bit to reduce your family’s plastic-waste.
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