Missed me? We took a brief hiatus from blogging to prepare for and enjoy a much needed week-long cruise to the Eastern Caribbean. Oh, my it was amazing, and once you see this scenery I’m sure you can forgive me for the break!
So after a week of being totally pampered by the phenomenal staff of the Carnival Pride and floating in the crystal blue waters of the Caribbean, reality set in that I had to return home and reset our routines for operation: “Back to School.”
A lot of activity has been going on this past week to get our family organized for school but the part I want to share to today is lunch batching. This technique is one that can be used by anyone who packs lunches, not just for school lunches, so keep reading. Packing lunches as a great way to save money and watch what you are eating.
I am a huge fan of the bento box by EasyLunchBoxes.com. I have owned a set of these for two years, and last year I bought an additional set along with the mini dippers boxes for my collection. They are dishwasher safe, microwave safe, and very durable. The box features three compartments for creating a diverse meal, and the mini dippers fit inside perfectly to securely hold dressings and dipping sauces.
There are cheaper knock-offs of this brand but don’t waste your money. The lids on those others are never as secure as the original EasyLunchBoxes.com version.
Each Sunday before the school week I spread out four boxes for my son and four boxes for me on the counter. (Why four days? My son’s school has a fabulous cafeteria, so I allow each of us one day a week to “dine out.”) I start by filling the small opening with a fruit option. This space is perfectly sized for clementines, plums, sliced apples, grapes, and more.
Next, I fill the medium opening with a vegetable. I am blessed that my rising fourth-grader loves fruits and vegetables so packing a healthy lunch is easy for us. The beauty of this system is that you can put whatever your child wants in each space – the box layout just helps you with portion sizes.
In the largest opening, we start with the entree. In the past we have fit Bagel Bites pizza, White Castle burgers, meat & cheese sticks, folded yogurt tubes, and other meal options in this compartment. My son’s current favorite lunch entree is mini ham and cheese sandwiches using King’s Hawaiian rolls (or the equally amazing store brand version at Aldi). I first learned how to make these from Easy Peasy Pleasy.
When we take these to the beach or lake, we store them in the original paper box and the plastic bag to retain their softness. To keep that fresh taste for school lunches, simply wrap each sandwich pair in plastic wrap before putting it in the bento box, and Friday’s lunch will taste just as fresh as Monday’s. One pack of rolls makes six pairs of sandwiches so for the last two days I loaded chicken nuggets with BBQ dipping sauce in a mini dippers container.
Once the main entree is in place, you can fill in the rest of the large opening with snack type items, or more fruit for my son. I use reusable mini silicone baking cups to create small compartments for items like dried cranberries. The foil wrapped bars are DIY granola bars that we made using the Pampered Chef Snack Bar Maker.
When the boxes are filled pop the lids on, stack them up in the fridge, and your lunch meals are prepped for a solid week. No more rushing around in the morning throwing random things in zip bags.
What are your favorite things to pack for lunch? Tell us in the comments below.