Back to School...at HOME!
This year, for so many of us, back to school has looked a whole lot like- stay at home, as so many families have chosen to homeschool or take advantage of virtual learning options (some by choice, and for some it being the only path). No matter how your family is approaching this season- even for those with kids attending in-person classes, it all likely looks very different than in years previous, making back to school 2020 a big change across the board.
Of course, with that change, there can be a lot of added feelings and responsibilities. But, today we are so excited to be sharing 3 simple tips to help minimize lunchtime struggles, no matter what school looks like for you and your family this year.
Now, if you follow us over on our feed, @lunchesandlittles, you already know we love making meals fun (lunch boxes included!), all while keeping things fresh and healthy. And whether your kids are bringing lunch boxes to school, or enjoying lunches at the dining room table- these tips are sure to help you score big with your little ones. Seriously, give yourself an A+, because whether you believe it or not- you are doing great!
1. INVEST IN GOOD QUALITY LUNCH GEAR
Quality lunch gear is a must-have for school-aged kids, and we’d recommend it even if you’re homeschooling/ participating in virtual learning. Our kids love eating out of a lunchbox, and homeschooling hasn’t stopped us from doing just that. Packing up lunches in advance- even with school at home, can also be super helpful in keeping the day running smoothly and not getting too side-tracked with meal requests from your little students.
All three of our kids (8 years and under) regularly use and love the Plantebox Rover (with the Planetbox Launch being another great choice for their ages) . These boxes have multiple compartments for a wide range of options, and with the optional pods, you can even break the sections up further offering smaller portions of more of their favorites. We love that Planetbox boxes are a plastic-free, eco-friendly lunch packing option, and as a Mama I really love that they are dishwasher safe too, making them so easy to clean. With three little ones, and a lot of lunchboxes floating around- that is definitely a plus!
Also, a Planetbox bonus: whether at home, or in a school building- kids love having things that are uniquely their own, and with Planetbox they can customize their lunchbox with magnets just for them (like, unicorns, sports, dinosaurs, etc.) The choice is completely theirs. Good quality lunch boxes, with all of the necessary pieces (containers, etc.) not only help us as parents pack easier (or do so alongside our kids), it can also help our kids- and ourselves with finding that homeschool-meal time balance
2. GET YOUR KIDS IN ON THE ACTION
We have always been huge proponents for getting kids in the kitchen. In fact, it’s pretty rare in our home that a meal gets planned without the input from someone under 8 years old. Getting little ones involved in the meal planning and lunch packing processes can not only give little ones a sense of pride, it can also help them get familiar with skills that will serve them for years and years to come.
Give your kids (limited) options, let them help with making their sandwiches, or other parts of their meal, and let me feel a sense in pride in these little things (that are actually quite big for them!). Our oldest two kiddos (ages 6 and 7) pack their lunches completely on their own most days (with our guidance of course!), and it is something they are often really proud over. We have actually worked this into our nightly routine….between dinner and baths/bedtime they come to the kitchen and choose what they would like for the next day.. We give them options, like “would you like some of these leftovers or a turkey sandwich,” or “would you like sliced strawberries or mandarins? Or both?” This routine not only affords us more time together, but again- makes them more capable of doing these kinds of tasks, helping them learn for the future and it also makes them more excited to each their lunches the next day.
3. KEEP THINGS HEALTHY- BUT MAKE IT FUN
We often get comments and questions over on our feed about how we have the time to make things cute or fun for our kids. And while every single meal in our home is certainly not perfect or fun, we do try to regularly incorporate simple additions and little touches that do make our meals more fun and appealing- especially in lunch boxes.
One thing that we learned really early on as parents was that kids are heavily influenced by fun food (think: familiar characters on boxes and pouches in the stores, fun commercials for foods that are aimed specifically at children, and so on) and if we are going to have to compete with some of those less-healthy options (that look really, really fun), we are going to have to up our game a bit.
Truth is- kids eat with their eyes first (spoiler alert: so do adults!), and so making things fun- even in really simple ways is a small thing that can make a big difference. Colorful options (aka eating the rainbow!) and incorporating fun cut outs (mini veggies cutters and even a wavy/crinkle cutter are wonderful tool to have on hand) are great. Food picks and even colorful containers like the Planetbox pods are also great.
Here’s the truth, it does not have to be hard to make things a little more fun and appealing for your little ones. Healthy food doesn’t have to be boring- check out our feed, @lunchesandlittles for even more ideas!
And remember- in this challenging time, we are all doing the best we can. You got this Mama (or Dad)!