How to Overcome the Overwhelm that is School Lunch – Part 2

Kid Friendly Lunch Recipe 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, we are working to create a school lunch system that works. Sure, there are tons of ideas online and the pictures sure make the meals look kid friendly and appetizing. But, there is a lot of work that goes on between idea and your kid enjoying a delicious lunch.

We are one step closer to having a solid system. A step-by-step process outlining what needs to happen, includes a grocery list of items for the week and tells you what and when to prepare so actually getting the food into the lunch bag is as quick and easy as possible.

You can work through all of the Parts on your own or you can use the system we outline in Step 4.

If you want to start at the beginning with Part 1, you can find the article here.

The Solution – Currently a Work in Progress

In Part 1, the steps you were going to work on include:

  1. Search for lunch ideas online
  2. Create a calendar with lunches your kids would eat
  3. Add the ingredients you needed for one week’s worth of lunches to your shopping list
  4. Have your kids help make their lunch

Our experience

Step 1. It is surprisingly easy to find great school lunch ideas online. It takes a good amount of effort to sort through ideas, but it is possible to find 20 lunch ideas you believe your kids will eat.

An obstacle our family faced was our kids didn’t instantly love all of the ideas selected. A compromise was made and as long as the kids found a replacement meal they could make a switch. This worked out really well and in hind site, we could have included the kids more in the initial section process.

Step 2. Once the 20 lunch ideas were finalized, adding them to the calendar was pretty simple. We made sure to space out lunches that were similar, so there was variety each week. We decided to go with an electronic calendar so it was easy to edit and reprint if needed.

You can find free options for custom editable free printable calendars for 2018 and 2019 here.

Step 3. An unexpected challenge came when trying to add the ingredients to the weekly shopping list. There were some ingredients that we were not going to finish during the week. This seemed like such a waste, so we moved things around on the calendar to coordinate better.

Step 4. Life got in the way and honestly, we stalled at Step 3. A plan was started and there were good intentions, but all 4 steps were not fully executed. Part 1 wasn’t a complete fail, because the lunches did change up a little and we have a great start to creating a new lunch system that works. But, after our first attempt, we didn’t make it completely out of the planning stage.

The How – Lessons Learned and Adjustments Going Forward

Not sure if we should call this lessons learned or a list of all of our failures, but that’s ok. We are one step closer to the goal of having a school lunch system that works. Systems (routines, plans, etc) are only successful if they work for you. We just need to make some adjustments so this system works well.

Lesson #1. I typically grocery shop about once a week, but I am not consistent with when I go. This caused problems with the lunch menu, because we didn’t always have all of the ingredients necessary to make the lunch ideas on the calendar.

Adjustment: Make sure all of the grocery shopping for the following week is done by the weekend.

Lesson #2. There were some really great lunch ideas, but some needed prep work at least a day in advance. This caused problems with the lunch menu, because we had the ingredients, but because we didn’t plan ahead, there wasn’t enough time to make the lunch in the morning.

Adjustment: We need to plan ahead and schedule prep time. This prep time can happen right after grocery shopping or at another time that works, but it needs to be scheduled.

Lesson #3. If dinner didn’t go as planned, then there weren’t left overs for lunch the next day. A few times the lunch menu had an item that was left over from the previous night’s dinner. You may notice a theme here, but meals in general are a pain point for our family. If something came up and dinner didn’t happen as planned, then that also meant the leftovers for lunch didn’t happen.

Adjustment: We are considering making the meals and freezing portions for future lunches. That way, if dinner doesn’t happen as planned, lunch is still ready. This may also mean an adjustment to the lunch calendar so the frozen portions don’t go to waste.

We also realize we need a system for our dinner meal planning. This is a big one!

The Support – How Did it Go for You?

Did you go through the steps with your kids? What were your successes? What were your failures?

Did you find any pain points for your family?

There are so many life lessons your kids will learn as they work through family problems together. Not only are they helping to solve a problem in the home, but they are also learning how to be a problem solver.

You can help them identify a problem, discuss possible solutions and then work through all of the steps to reach resolutions of the problem. And for problems that will repeat over and over again – we need to eat every day, right? – you can teach your kids how to create systems. A process they use over and over again to resolve a problem.

Thank you for your patience as we Overcome the Overwhelm that is School Lunch. If there are other things in life that overwhelm you or your kids, let us know in the comments below. We love to support you in your journey to raise Active Happy Kids.


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