Tuesday, July 21, 2015

School lunch.

Remember back in the day when we would wait in line with our lunch card, pick up a tray, walk along the counter, and then face the terribly difficult choice of:

 Roast Beef Au Jus


........Oh, yeah. There was only ONE choice. 

I remember being hungry, taking what was offered, and eating it. 

On Friday, we could pay an extra quarter for chocolate milk. 
 Aahhh, blessed Friday. No wonder it's everyone's favorite.

These days, the menus my children bring home are comical. Each day has five - count 'em, FIVE - main dish options, and even more when it comes to sides, each one more unhealthy than the last.

And yet, and yet....no matter how many times I would try to gear myself up to make homemade lunches, I would last a week, if that, and then give in to the "hot lunch" option.


Let's be honest, here:

It's easy.

It requires nothing of me in the morning, and I can even deposit the money online now.

About two months before the end of this last school year, however, I determined to do it.
For real. All out. Whatever it takes.

I printed out cute little calendars....

Planned out a month at a time....

Went shopping.....

.....and I was already exhausted.

For those of you who truly enjoy grocery shopping and preparing lunches,
I say hold on to that. 
You hit the personality jackpot.

For me.....it doesn't matter how much planning {even though I love lists}
how much shopping {even though I love to eat}
and how much pep-talking {even though self-affirmations make me feel like Stuart Smalley}

...Morning Mommy Syndrome always wins. 

I might do a whole post later on the symptoms of MMS.
 I'm thinking of starting a support group.

I needed a solution. That didn't involve me expecting too much of myself.

My solution?

Lunch stations.

Download the labels by clicking on and saving the image below.

I realized that if I did an hour or less prep once a week, my kids would be able to not only easily make their own lunches,
but also be more excited about them
{because they got to choose what went in to them}.

My lunch station line-up:

The Hardware Bin: 

paper bags (for those I-forgot-my-lunch-bag moments)
sandwich bags,
snack size bags,
index cards (for our son with type 1 Diabetes to write down the carb count)
marker and pencil
plastic silverware

the Bread Bin:

loaf of bread

the Sandwich Station:

pb and j
sandwich meat
cheese slices
lettuce leaves
pickle slices

{I like to place a cutting board between the bread and sandwich bins
for an easy surface to assemble sandwiches}

Yogurt and String Cheese Bin:


Fruit and Vegetable Bin:

snack size bags of:
cherry tomatoes
snap peas
watermelon chunks
pineapple chunks
apple slices
....you get the picture....

Snack Bin:

snack size bags of:
ritz crackers
goldfish crackers
graham crackers
and occasional treats, etc.

The great thing is, I don't have to keep all of these options on hand.  Let me clarify - I DO NOT keep all of those on hand. I can take a little bit of time Saturday or Sunday night, put together the bags for the next week based on what is in season or whatever I have on hand, put the bags in the bins, and breathe a huge sigh of relief.

My children will eat healthy lunches all week, and with no exhausting effort on my part.
A perfect arrangement.
Plus, what kid doesn't LOVE getting to choose things to put in a lunch bag?

On school mornings all I have to do is set the bins out at the table or counter. The kids take it from there, filling their bags with some pretty cute giggles most of the time.
 It makes it really fun when I get to add a special treat or try out a new fruit or vegetable.
They get so excited to see the choices change from week to week!

And the cleanup?

Simply the best.

The other wonderful thing is the huge help it is for feeding a child with type 1 Diabetes.
Any parent of an elementary school age child with this condition
knows the absolute stress lunchtime can be for you and for your child.

 I find that if I keep our little OXO food scale next to me while I am making up the bags, I can weigh the portions out so easily and then I write the carb count on EVERY bag, whether it is going to our Diabetic son or not. That way, no matter what he grabs, the carb count is right there in plain sight for him or the nurse or the secretary or the teacher or ANYONE who has something to do with his care while at school.

I hope these stations help curb the chaos in your home! Tell me what you like or don't like and why!
I love suggestions.

As always, feel free to comment below, use the share buttons, or email me at:

Happy Lunching!


P.S.: Here comes the reality photo. My kitchen counter today. Yay for reality!

1 comment:

  1. The reality photo makes me smile. And you're awesome!