Parenting

Hate Packing Lunches? 3 Great Ideas to Save Your Sanity AND Your Money

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I know what you’re thinking, You homeschool! You are not qualified to tell me about packing lunches! And partly, that’s true, because I don’t have to pack lunches every day. However, once a week we are all at homeschool co-op and it is a loooong day. Not only do the kids need lunches, but so do I…and the baby, too (and school books, and a portable high chair, and diapers, and sippys, and water bottles, and teacher’s guides, and coffee, and a million other things I don’t know how I’m going to carry all by myself). Then there are all the nature walks and field trips we take (a considerable number of them) which also require travel-ready food, unless I want to be faced with meltdowns over empty tummies. I feel for you moms out there who have to do this every, single day of the week and I think I’ve come up with a terrific solution. It requires a few hours of work on a Saturday (or whatever day you can spare two hours) but it will make your week a snap!

 

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1. Did you know you can freeze peanut butter and jelly?

This was one of those “aha!” moments in life. My kids love those Uncrustables that are ridiculously expensive in the frozen food aisle. They’re nothing more than frozen peanut butter and jelly with crusts that have been cut off with a round cookie cutter. I decided to try this at home for a fraction of the price. The steps are incredibly simple:

  • Decide how many sandwiches you need for the week.
  • Make that many sandwiches.
  • Put them in individual sandwich bags, place together in gallon-size Ziploc bags, freeze.
  • Throw sandwiches in the lunch bags in morning, still frozen. They will be thawed by lunch.

I also get the added bonus of being able to say to a hungry child, “Go grab a sandwich!” (They like them frozen, too!)

 

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2. Make your own Lunchables. 

Walking past the Lunchables in the grocery store is always an issue. “Weeee waaaaaant thoooooosseee,” is the hue and cry. But every time I buy them, one kid eats the crackers (and doesn’t touch the meat) and the other eats the cheese (but doesn’t touch the crackers or the meat) — and it’s $8 down the drain. NO MORE! I figured out that the thing they like about them is the miniature-sized food. This is easy to replicate. I came up with a homemade pizza Lunchable that is a big hit. I control the ingredients, so I know what’s in them, and I don’t add anything I know they won’t eat. You can miniaturize any lunch. There’s something about the “make your own” style kids love. Anything they get to spread or put together is a winning idea. This can be done with chicken salad on crackers with a side of baby carrots or tuna on crackers with miniature pickles. The key is tiny food and tiny ziplock containers. They’ll eat anything out of tiny containers.

I even made a video for you:

 

 

3. Instant breakfast!

Okay, it’s not lunch, BUT it will help your kids make it through the day. If you’re anything like me, you don’t want to get up and make a huge breakfast. But our kids always want pancakes and stuff that takes forever and makes a big mess. Instead of saying ‘no’ and ordering them to the cereal cabinet, just have freezer French toast on hand. On your cooking day, cook up a loaf of bread into French toast and freeze in Ziploc freezer bags. In the morning just pull them out and plop in the toaster. You can serve with syrup if the kids have gotten dressed in time, or if you’re running late, spread a little jam on top, fold in half, and take them in the car. These are great in the toaster and they are far better than anything you can get in the frozen aisle — and much cheaper, too. (HT: Pocket full of Rocks)

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Images via Shutterstock

Do you have any time and money-saving tips for feeding hungry kids? Please share them below!