A huge welcome to Suzanne, professional organiser, entrepreneur and mum of 3, who has some wonderful tips on how to make packed lunches a pleasure to do (yep!) AND help our kids become more independent...
Over to Suzanne:
'I don’t know about you, but whether you do the children’s packed lunches in the evening
or in a mad rush in the morning, it always feel like such a laborious task and can be quite time consuming.
I have found that with some planning and up front preparation, packed lunches can be cleverly used to save time and simultaneously offer a golden opportunity to teach our children independence. It is a win-win situation, what is there not to like?
I like to call this the ‘help-yourself lunchbox system’. And that is exactly what it is. The children help themselves in the morning by packing their own lunchboxes within the boundaries set by you.
How to set up a ‘help-yourself lunchbox system’
The system does require some upfront preparation, but it pays off in the end and is totally worth the effort, trust me. Your future self with thank you each and every morning/evening when you have one less thing to do. Think about what you normally pack for lunch and stock up and prepare those items in batch every week.
Step 1: Freeze sandwiches
I like to batch make a few weeks’ worth of sandwiches in advance and freeze them. They can be packed for lunch in the morning and by lunch time the sandwich will be thawed, beautifully fresh and ready to eat. It also keeps the lunch box nice and cool throughout the morning.
Most sandwiches can be frozen with success. Bread or wraps with cheese, meat, jam (and peanut butter, but remember no nuts for school) all work well. My kids love ham & cheese and jam & cheese (I know what you are thinking, but you should try it!). If you add condiments like mayo, just make sure you add it between layers of meat or cheese. If it is in direct contact with the bread it can make the bread soggy.
This is how I do it:
Cut open 6 rolls like one big sandwich. Layer with filling of choice. Cut between rolls to split them up. Label the freezer bags and add rolls. Get rid of most of the air (I use a straw to suck out the air). Seal, freeze and ta-dah! Lunchbox sandwiches sorted.
Step 2: Stock up on snacks
Fill a basket with savoury and sweet ‘wrapper type’ snacks ready for the children to grab and pack in their lunch box. I like to also buy bigger bags of crisps/crackers/etc and make smaller portions by using small reusable tubs.
Step 3: Fruit/salad and dairy items in the fridge
Dedicate a child accessible spot in the fridge for lunchbox fruit and dairy items. Provide fruit and dairy options for the kids to grab. For berries and salad I again create portions by using above mentioned tubs.
Step 4: Lunch boxes and water bottles
Store empty lunch boxes and water bottles in a place, like a low drawer or cupboard that is accessible to the children. In our kitchen it’s in wire baskets attached to the wall with command hooks.
Step 5: Explain the ‘help-yourself lunchbox system’ guidelines to your children
For example they can pack 1x sandwich, 1x savoury item, 1x sweet item, 2x fruit/salad, 2x dairy items. Do the packing with them the first few mornings to make sure they get the hang of it and never look back again! I find the kids quite enjoy the independence and being able to choose what to pack.
If you keep your baskets and the freezer well stocked, it is also so convenient for packing lunches for impromptu picnics and outings. Hopefully this was helpful – now you just need to decide what to do with all that time you are saving not packing lunches every day.' 😊
If you feel you need some advice or help in organising your home, Suzanne offers face-to-face or virtual sessions. Go to www.finallysorted.com for more details.
Suzanne is a professional organiser. She creates easy-to-follow systems, that fit in with your family's lifestyle, to help keep things organised. As a busy mum herself she knows how overwhelming life can be and her goal is to make your life easier by creating an organised and functional home environment. Overcome clutter and disorganisation in your home or office, to make your life less stressful and your time more efficient.