So, the kids are finally back in school, again; for me anyway. That means it’s back to lunches. For most, the dreaded lunch; for some, the creative dinosaur sandwich with a side of cut and shaped cheese, with heart shaped cut carrot and…never mind, it’s too much work even to type it!
For the past number of years my kids have enjoyed what we call mish mash as their main lunch. Essentially, just cut up meat, cheese, veg, fruit and a couple of “cupboard” snacks. No fancy shapes!! I ain’t got no time for that!! I cut it all up on Monday morning, usually as the boys are packing their Monday’s lunch. Then I place whatever is left into containers and the kids use them to fill their lunches throughout the week. I used to need to help guide them a bit, like suggesting they get one of each type of food rather than only taking the veggies or meat etc. At first they gave me a fair bit of push back, they wanted more cupboard snacks, or more fruit and no meat, or only cucumbers, but we have come along way since then!
For the cupboard snacks, I usually stock up at Costco and buy things when they’re on sale. Then I put them into some divided containers. I also used to have to label them with how many of each category of cupboard snack they can grab. Now they’re great at picking only two of them and adding their own version of variety.
I mentioned in one of my previous posts that I have multiple fridges and one of them is what we call the snack fridge. It’s a little bar fridge where the fridge snacks go after being cut up for school lunches.
Now that we have been doing this for a few years, most days I just make sure the containers have enough in them and the boys pack their own lunches, even an ice pack from the mini freezer right inside the snack fridge!
If you dread making lunches every morning, this food system is AWESOME!
There were some growing pains and sometimes there still are. My favourite thing about it is that the boys are so used to it, that when school is not on, like PA days, or virtual, they still go there knowing they can help themselves if they’re hungry. That way I am not always in charge of when they can eat. Or I am not having to make 7 snacks per day!! They know that if they’re hungry they can grab two fridge snacks, then escalate to a cupboard snack if the fridge snacks didn’t curb their hunger. I make them alternate between the two fridge snacks and the cupboard snack until they are satisfied, or until break time runs out. I often add some yogurt cups, tubes, or drinks; whatever is on a better sale.
For dinner on Fridays we often have pizza and I simply pull out anything that is left in the snack fridge to either serve fresh or chop up and add it to our pizzas. Sometimes I will have the kids pack up their leftover dinner into a container for the snack fridge so they can either have it later (like at bedtime when they can’t possibly go to sleep because they are “starving“), or they can pack it in their lunch the next day.
It’s, hopefully, that one step closer to setting them up to be somewhat independent, unless I cut up the options in the wrong way! My youngest is always willing to provide, lets say “constructive” feedback!!
A long time ago, before I even had kids, or a husband, I used to do a similar thing for myself. I would shop on Sunday get home and cut up a bunch of veg so that it was ready to eat without the need for any prep. I was way more inclined to go after the veggies rather than the chips or Oreos!!
The greatest thing about this system, is that it’s completely customizable!
And you don’t need a separate fridge to be able to make it work, we just happen to have the space for it. I used to use one of the shelves of my main fridge for the same thing when the kids were a lot younger.