As a parent, it's a pretty great feeling when a lunchbox comes home empty. It's really easy to get stuck in a routine though and have the kids sending home boxes that are half full! We're taking it back to basics with our top lunchbox packing tips. They'll give you a great foundation for building legendary lunchboxes in no time!
Instagram, Pinterest, Google, YouTube, whatever online source is your favourite, they’re all brimming with lunch ideas.
Research is great for finding new ideas or rediscovering old ones – everyone needs inspiration. Don't know where to start? Bento-style lunches, waste-free lunches, themed lunches are all great first searches and will inspire you to look into each element into more detail. If you want to get deeper, try looking at 'protein options for lunch box' or 'lunchbox sandwich alternatives'. This way you're looking at options for different elements of the lunchbox and hopefully finding some delicious new options along the way.
Remember to collate your favourite ideas whilst you're going along. This could be as easy as taking notes, saving images to a folder, using a pinterest board or even using the 'save' function on Instagram. File your ideas by child, age, time of year, whatever suits you best.
We’re not going to tell you to prep 5 lunchboxes for all your little ones on a Sunday, we know you’re busy. Instead, try sticking a list of all your favourite lunch options to the fridge for inspiration when you’re short on time.
By using your research from tip number 1, you should be able to generate a list of your favourite lunch items. Then, break it down into different groups based on the staples you like your lunchbox to have. That way, you can look at the list, choose an item from each group and compose a great lunch, it's just like writing a song!
A great place to start is by creating a 'Main' group, list items might include things like sandwiches, sushi, wraps, kebabs, pita pockets or pasta. The more specific you can be, the easier it will be to shop for items quickly. Try chicken, tomato & spinach wrap, egg, cucumber & sprout sandwiches - all based off your little ones favourite combos.
Once you’ve done your research and established your staples, buy a lunchbox based on your needs.
Lunchboxes with lots of compartments like Bento boxes are popular but you may prefer something less structured.
A good example to think about is fruit. If you always plan on sending a whole apple to school, make sure you buy a lunchbox that has compartments big enough. Your kids might not be keen on squashed fruit and if you're struggling to get it into the box, it's likely coming home again. Alternatively, if your kids love cut up fruit, and you're happy enough to do this most mornings, small compartments might be the way to go. Same thing if you plan to send veggies or dips.
Also think about your mains. Do your kids love leftovers? These will need their own compartment in a lunchbox, or you'll need a box big enough to fit other smaller containers in. A chilly lunch bag might be your answer here.
As with your staples list, by doing some research you'll find there are a lot of options out there. Take time picking what's going to be most convenient for you!
Fruit & veggies are going to be a staple in most peoples lunchboxes!
Buying seasonally not only adds variety to lunches, it can also be cheaper! Look out for fruits and veggies grown in New Zealand and specials are a great place to start. It's often good to do a refresher on seasonal basics. The produce company have a great calendar available on their website.
Next, look back at your staples list and see if you can get more specific where fruits and veggies crop up.
In winter, apples and oranges are going to be abundant and cheap but might gt a little boring whole. On your list, could you include orange wedges, apple slices, stewed apples, whole apples, orange & apple fruit kebabs... this will keep you from getting bored in slower seasons.
In summer, the abundance of berries, stone fruit & melon makes variety easy.
Plus, this doesn’t have to be limited to produce, what else can you shake up with the seasons?
Our final tip is to involve your little ones.
Once you've done your prep work, made your list & bought your lunchbox, getting kids involved in the decision making each week will feel less intimidating. Hopefully, there's nothing on your list that you wouldn't be prepared to make so once they choose something, it will feel great to say yes! You might be surprised how excited your kids can get about their lunches if they feel involved in the process.
If your kids don't normally get involved in lunchbox prep, just asking for their feedback each day can help narrow down what they love, and what they don't.
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