How to Overcome the Overwhelm that is School Lunch – Part 1

Kid Friendly Lunch Ideas for School

The Hassle – School Lunch

If the thought of preparing school lunch gives you nightmares, you are not alone. School lunch is a huge struggle, but never fear, there is a detailed solution!

Full disclosure, I am at the beginning of my battle to school lunch. Not because it’s the beginning of a new school year, but because I am terrible at coming up with food idea. Here are all of the things we’ve tried over the years

  1. Asking the kids what they want to eat

Outcome: blank stares

2. Buying what I think my kids will eat and preparing the lunches

Outcome: lunch bags coming home with uneaten meals

3. Having the kids circle school lunches they will buy at school to reduce the number of lunches brought from home

Outcome: This worked for a couple weeks. Then my oldest said she would never buy school lunch ever again.

4. Making sure there are plenty of healthy food options and letting the kids make their own lunches

Outcome: This is our current set up for my big kids. They have taken the exact same lunch to school for years. It has worked ok, but it’s great.

Goal: Overcome the Overwhelm that is School lunch by creating a system that works

The internet is full of great school lunch ideas. The pictures look great and you think, that’s easy, I’ve got it. Then the morning comes and it’s still a scramble to pull something together that your kid will actually eat. Maybe you forgot to buy something at the grocery store or what you thought you already had is expired or moldy.

Have no fear, at the end of this series, the goal of the How to Overcome the Overwhelm that is School Lunch Series is to have

  • A meal plan lunch calendar with 20 different ideas
  • A week’s worth of healthier lunch options
  • A week’s worth of budget friendly lunch options
  • Shopping list for all of the ingredients you’ll need for the week including meal costs
  • Bonus – some of the meals can be made for dinner and sent as leftovers for lunch the next day

The Solution – It’s Currently a Work in Progress

Unfortunately there is not a school lunch fairy who will wave a wand and make this easy. At the moment, I cannot give a simple, easy solution.

There are endless sites that give lunch ideas. And ideas are great. What we are looking for is how to turn those ideas into reality.

As we go through this experience together, the goal is to develop a system that works. To overcome the overwhelm and make the task as easy as possible. We will work together to take all of those great ideas and make lunches your kids love.

Step 1 – Search Online

Start with a Google or Pinterest search for school lunch ideas. My first search brought up 100+ School Lunch Ideas the Kids Will Actually Eat. The article is a compilation of several other sites. The pictures look good and there are a ton of idea.

Step 2 – Eliminate Ideas and Create a Calendar

The next step is to cross off any school lunch ideas your kid may be allergic to or simply will not eat. Make sure to consider lunches your kid can make themselves. Consult with your kids and let them weigh in on which lunches they would like to try. They will be more likely to eat something they choose for themselves.

Add 20 lunch ideas to a calendar. Take 4 weeks and plan out 5 lunches each week. As you plan, take into consideration ingredients that you will need to use sooner than others and plan these meals on the days immediately following your grocery shopping.

Sometimes it can be a lot to tackle everything at once. It’s a daunting task to plan 20 super healthy lunches that are very budget friendly that your kids will absolutely love and that will make them the envy of every kid in the entire world. Take it one step at a time.

Start with lunch ideas your kids will actually eat. Once you become good at that, try to make the meals healthier or more budget friendly. Then you can try adding a new food here and there for your kid to try. Take things one step at a time.

Step 3 – Add to Your Shopping List

Add the ingredients you need to purchase for one week to your grocery list. Make sure to include reusable containers or ice packs if needed.

Planning ahead is vital to your success. Don’t let yourself get overwhelmed. Even the best plan can go astray, so adjust as you go along.

Step 4 – Put Your Kid to Work

Kids can be responsible for so many aspects of their own lives. Making their own lunch is a great responsibility. You may not want your kindergartner using a sharp knife, but there are several tasks they can do for them self. They will be more likely to eat their lunch if they made it or helped make it themselves.

The How – One Day At a Time

Now that we have our plan for the week, let’s start. Try your best to keep a positive attitude and encourage your kids to do the same. As long as they were part of the lunch selection and preparing process, they will be more likely to enjoy their food.

Make adjustments as needed to the plan. We want this plan to work for you. And remember, this is just the first step. It’s ok if something doesn’t work out as planned or you get frustrated. Take it one day at a time and be proud of all of the things that go right.

The Support – Let’s Work on This Together

Join me as we can overcome the overwhelm that is school lunch. This is just the beginning. It may take 3 or even 4 parts until we have a system that works, but we will be successful.

Are you the queen of making school lunch? Do you have all of the answers? Let us know what you do in the comments below.

We always love a good story. If you have a school lunch fail, tell us all about it in the comments below.

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