Help !! How do you all manage if you have to make packed lunch for school ? Ideas and tips please(44 Posts)
My daughter may be starting a school that I am very happy with except for the fact that you have to provide a packed lunch ! I am In no way a domestic goddess but it was the only thing stopping me from getting excited about an otherwise perfect for our family school . I need to make my peace with this or the next 7 yrs are going to be a nightmare ( eeeek!!). So any tips , idea or general info that can help me put together a menu plan or make my life easier ( like possibly finding someone to do it for me !!!)
It's not that bad!
Mix and match sandwiches, wraps, pasta. Some people get small flasks and send it warm soups, beans etc.
Make sure that there's a bit of each food group - not too much processed meat or sugars and avoid chocolate bars and you'll be fine!
We just had categories that made it much easier.
A 'main' - usually sandwich/wrap, and YY to not too much processed meat
A pot of chopped fruit
A pot of chopped raw veg
A frube type thing
A small bottle of water
I freeze rolls already sliced open or 2 slices of bread in individual bag and get the necessary amount out the night before. I also freeze those yogurt tubes and pop them in the lunchbox in the morning with the idea that it acts as an ice pack for the morning and is defrosted by lunchtime. My 2 DS have pretty much the same thing each day (by choice) so it doesn't involve too much thought (filled roll, yogurt, fruit/veg, cereal bar).
Bottle of water
How old is she? I gave both of my boys the choice, when they went to secondary school - school dinners or packed lunches. With the proviso that if they chose the packed lunch they made it themselves! Always had in stock bread, ham, cheese, tuna, cherry tomatoes, yoghurts/Frubes and various biscuits (although I know these aren't always allowed) and crisps. With cartons of fruit juice.
Sandwich (wrap, roll, sliced bread) with either cheese, ham, chicken or tuna, sometimes carrot and humus if I'm feeling energetic.
Dairy product - yoghurt, babybel or similar.
Fruit or fruit smoothie.
Treat - small cake, crisps, penguin - nothing with nuts.
Takes five mins max.
Dd is 11 now and has always had packed lunch (her choice).
She usually has a sandwich (ham and cheese, or tuna and mayo or something like that) that I make the night before usually while I'm waiting for dinner to cook then I cling film it and bung in the fridge... She also has some fruit and a yoghurt and a bottle of water. Sometimes if I make fairy cakes she will take one of those or sometimes a packet of crisps. Depends how strict the school is on healthy eating!
Make sandwiches at the weekends and freeze. Ditto tray bake flapjack (or similar). Chpped fruit and veg, yoghurt. Done.
I have three to do. I make up the entire lunchbox the night before and stick them in the fridge. We have (depending on the child):
cereal bar or homemade flapjack
Like betsy mine tend to have the same thing each day.
I carefully planned the first few lunches and wrote them down. Now, if I run out of ideas or think things have got a bit unbalanced, I can refer back and get ideas or check what I was satisfied with in the days when I was giving the problem my full attention.
Buy some kit that you are happy with. I have two lock and lock boxes, one has three internal boxes which is quite handy. For an older child an actual lunchbox might be appropriate but having to make sure the same one was clean every morning would make me weep. An idea I got from the internet was to buy silicon cupcake cases from Lakeland ( I have small and teeny-tiny) and use them to put small things in, like a few raisins or some cherry tomatoes or a bit of pasta salad.
I bought lunch boxes with three compartments.
Big compartment is for carb/protein.
One small compartment for veg.
One small compartment for fruit and occasional sweet item.
THe whole box goes into a bag with a strap and a pocket for a water bottle.
Sandwiches - bread, pitta, wrap
Fillings - ham, cheese, houmous, smoked mackeral pate, smoked salmon if I am feeling generous, cream cheese, marmite.
Sometimes slice of quiche or a savoury muffin.
Sometimes I put cheese and tomato into the wrap, dry toast it in a pan and call it cold pizza.
Sometimes I put in rice cakes or crisp breads and leave the fillings in chunks for them assemble themselves.
Veg: two or three of the following -
Slices of cucumber, peppers of all colours, a couple of cherry tomatos, carrot sticks, raw fresh peas for DD1.
Once in a while I put in a small jam jar of houmous for dipping.
Grapes, a halved kixi (cut side down) with spoon in the lower compartment, rarely a handful of mixed dried fruit, blueberries, in season soft fruit. Apples, pears, bananas and tangerines have to go on the lunch bag as they don't fit in the box.
Occasional sweet - perhaps once a week:
A biscuit or a choc coin - cake or muffin if I happen to have baked.
it takes all of a few minutes to make ds's packed lunch
Bread / rice cakes / crackers
Cheese / chicken bits / occasionally ham or sausages
Chopped veg (usually peppers, tomatoes, cucumber)
Fruit (more often than not grapes)
Something sweet like chocolate biscuit / cake
DD (6) either has a ham sandwich as the main element, or soup in a special food flask with a slice of bread, (or some pasta) plus a cheese straw, a Box of raisins and a small biscuit and fruit juice. If I have done a shop, she has hummous, Pitta bread, a box of olives and slices of chorizo. She is a bit odd in her eating habits though!
I make the sandwich element (pitta, roll, wrap) the night before to save time, I refill a bottle with juice and put that in the fridge too then put a cereal bar and any non-fridge bits in the lunchbox.
Then it's just assembly in the morning. I also freeze frubes and cartons of fruit juice to use as a cool pack.
Mine like innocent smoothies but I only buy them when they're on offer says they're extortionate otherwise, but handy as an extra portion of fruit.
Mango hedgehogs, half an apple (with a squeeze of orange juice to stop browning) or a mini bunch of grapes are good.
We have a 'crispy Friday' so once a week they get crisps and maybe chocolate. The rest of the time I try to make sure it's a balance of things they like/will eat and things that are healthy.
Be aware that lots of schools have a no nuts policy so buying suitable healthy-ish cereal bars can be tricky. It also means no Nutella or peanut butter in sandwiches, which is a shame as mine I've both of those.
wraps or sandwiches here, with lettuce or cucumber depending on the child, bung it all in the sandwich/wrap and it is a once course thing covering all categories. sorry I am lazy. they may take fruit but normally no because they get such a short amount of eating time they only have time for sandwich and a quick biscuit/cake/cereal bar before they get told off for taking too long. oh and as they eat sitting on the floor, yoghurts or anything involving spoons would be messy or a waste of time. otherwise I would do salads and so on.
I have a production line going. Sigh.
But all the lunches boxes end up with ...
Piece of fruit
Container of veggie sticks and cherry toms
Two of them have a pot of hummus
Small treat of some sort, maybe some popcorn or a little cake or a couple of biscuits.
Cheese if we have any
or a cheese string
I think my DCs have the anti mn lunchbox!
Oh wow ! Great response - thank you ! ( now all u need is one of you inspired mumsnetters to live near me and do a packed lunch for me every morning too ; ) . My daughter will be 31/2 .
Balia- I'm curious about freezing andwiches ! Do you put fillings in and freeze the whole thing ? What fillings do you freeze ? When do you remove it from the freezer ?
Watching with interest. DS has school dinners, but I make a "packed lunch" for when we get in from work/after school club at 5.30-6pm ish.
Just make sure she can open everything that you put in then.
I used to have to cut the frube tubes opening slitty thing a bit further, take the outside wrapper off babybels, make sure the water bottle had been opened once before and trial new sandwich boxes to make sure they could open them at that age.
Cheese or ham freeze ok, anything with mayonnaise/salad doesn't, but you can always put some cucumber sticks in as a separate item.
If you take it out in the morning it will be defrosted by lunchtime, as long as there aren't lots of other frozen items too! My DCs find that sometimes the frozen juice box is still like a slushy at lunchtime, but the frubes and sandwiches are quick to defrost.
Can of pop/enjoyable drink
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