When you ask moms what their least favorite thing about the weekday school monotony is, packing lunches is always at or near the top of the list.
So a couple weeks ago I asked readers to share any tips/tricks/shortcuts they had that made the lunch packing a little less sucky.
I’m still working on that post…
But one of the suggestions was to make a whole bunch of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and freeze them. Then you can just pull one out of the freezer, throw it in the lunch bag, and it will be defrosted and ready to eat by lunchtime.
Once I read that, I started thinking about how much stuff was freezable for lunches.
I did some Pinteresting and some Googling.
And if there is one thing you can do to make packing lunches easier (aside from having your kids learn to pack their own lunches which is something we’ve been doing for a couple years and is a major sanity saver) it’s to prepare as much as you can ahead of time and freeze it!
Not only does this allow your kids to have lots of stuff ready to grab and quickly put in their lunch boxes, but it also serves another purpose.
Some of their food is now a built in ice pack!
I want to share with you what I’ve made ahead of time and what I’ve frozen that has made lunch packing so much easier:
1) I’m trying to use less plastic. And we mostly use reusable containers when we pack our lunches. Eventually I’m going to get reusable sandwich bags. But I’m not there yet.
So I’ve been using deli style wax paper that I got from Costco.
I use this to wrap up sandwiches, muffins, etc, and then I store those in a big plastic freezer bag. The kids can throw whatever is wrapped in the paper right into their lunch (depending on what it is) and they can also microwave whatever is inside it if they need to.
So what have I wrapped in those?
PB&J. Make sure you put peanut butter on both sides so the jelly doesn’t soak into the bread.
I know peanut butter isn’t allowed in some schools or classes, but you can also do cream cheese and jelly. I also do raisin bread and butter.
2. Peanut butter and honey “sushi”
I saw this on 1oo Days of Real Food. She cut the crust off of bread, rolled it with a rolling pin to make it super flat, put PB&J on the bread, rolled it up, and then cut it into little “sushi rolls.” I thought this was so cute. So I did it, and it’s been kind of a big hit!
Today I made some peanut butter and honey “sushi rolls.”
(I save the crusts and freeze them and chop them up in the food processor when I need bread crumbs).
These are good for snack after school, too!
I filled up a bunch of containers and they are good to go.
3. Chocolate chip banana bread muffins
You could obviously do any kind of muffin, but this is one of our favorites and muffins freeze so well!
We will microwave these in the morning and put them into a thermos to keep them warm until lunch time.
(We have lots of thermoses).
5. French Toast
I made a butt load of French toast.
Then I cut it up into French toast sticks.
We either eat these for breakfast of heat ’em up and put them in a thermos and pack a little syrup. (Cause everyone loves breakfast for lunch sometimes!)
I didn’t get to the soup this weekend, but any kind of soup freezes well. If you freeze it in smaller portions, you can just take one out in the morning, heat it up, throw it in a thermos, and you are good to go!
7. Apple pouches
We don’t always get these. But when we do (we have some now) they freeze well, they serve as an ice pack, and they are defrosted in time for lunch.
8. Pudding packs
These freeze well too, and just like the applesauce pouches, they serve as an ice pack but also defrost in time for lunch.
Same as the applesauce and pudding! You can also freeze regular yogurt. I make little containers of plain Greek yogurt with honey in them. My kids love those.
10. Juice boxes
We don’t do juice boxes, but if you do, you can freeze them and also use them as an ice pack!
11. No Bake Peanut Butter Honey Chocolate Chip Granola Bites
YUM. (get the recipe here)
Where do you keep all this stuff?
We are fortunate to have a chest freezer in our mudroom, so I have three separate bins in there, and the kids know exactly where to look.
They are very good about packing a balanced lunch. They know they can’t pack pudding and french toast and raisin bread and cookies in the same lunch.
But they can quickly grab a taco and apple sauce and some cookies and have most of their lunch done in about 30 seconds!
(The other stuff for their lunches is in the fridge ready to grab, and I’ll get to that next week).
Preparing food ahead of time and freezing it is making a HUGE difference in lunch packing headaches for all of us!
Even if you can only make some PB&J sandwiches or throw some butter on some raisin bread, you will have done one thing that will streamline the lunch making process a little bit, and every minute counts!
Have something else you freeze that I didn’t mention?
And happy(er) lunch making, Everyone!