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School Lunch Prep Perfected!

It’s back to school time and what better time of year to get organized,  I’m talking about your pantry!  This is a great time to organize your pantry shelves and know what you have on hand as the new school year begins.  A quick wipe down and possibly an update of your shelf paper and you are all set!

Who makes school lunches? On average, there is 180 school days in a calendar year, which means 180 prepared lunches. Times that by four ravenous boys and you can see why I had to simplify and perfect the lunch prep chaos. I have come up with a plan that works for my busy family, saves time and space, and helped our mornings run smooth.  I can even enjoy my morning cup of coffee :).

I love to take advantage of sales or purchase in bulk from a box store when preparing for back to school. But where do you put all that food when you get home?  I have found an easy solution that works for any busy household.  I begin by figuring out how many lunches I need for a two week period, adjusting for any school holidays.  Sometimes, I will just make enough to work with what I purchased, for example: juice boxes come in quantities of 8 or 10 thus 8 or 10 lunches.  Next, find a spot to put your lunches.  You might designate a shelf or add a shelving unit to store your lunches.    By making the lunches in advance you will reduce the space needed to store all the extra bulk food which should give you some storage space for the lunch bags.1

Shopping day!  I shop for all the items needed:  sandwich fixings, chips, snack crackers, granola, veggies, yogurt, cookies, etc.  To begin the process I open all the disposable lunch sacks I need for the amount of lunches I will be making.  I still use this method for my lunch kit kids too.  I simply empty the bag each day into the lunch kit and then reuse the bags.  Then I line up all the lunch sacks so I can add all the items easily as well as add variety.

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I start the sort by putting in all the items for the lunch, except the perishable items, into each of the opened bags.  This includes a napkin, spoon or even an encouraging note.  Once a week I portion out and bag up any perishable items (fruit or veggies) so I can do a quick grab from the fridge.

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Finally, store your bags in the designated shelf or shelves.  Here is the best part; each morning you grab and go!  It takes less than five minutes to grab a bag, make a sandwich and add your perishable items.  The convenience of having all this done already has saved us many times after a late night out, a forgotten field trip and even a morning when the alarm didn’t go off.

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On a side note, there are several websites that have tutorials for making sandwiches, tortillas rolls, etc. and freezing them ahead of time.    I do this too however, you will have to try a few ways to see what works for your family as it greatly depends on the bread choice, what the contents of the sandwich are, condiments, and even what time it will be eaten.  Overall, this is one more step to make things easier for you in the morning.

I hope this helps you to be a bit ahead of the game and changes your morning routine.  Happy lunch making.

-Debi

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