Last week we had a fantastic 5 post kick-off to our blog series Beyond Bologna: Making Back-to-School Lunch Healthy, Happy, & Hip! In case you missed any of it, allow me to recap for you our first week, which focused on getting organized!
This week, the five of us will each be sharing our tried and true time-saving tips when it comes to the task of preparing those school lunches… and of course each of us will have another kid friendly recipe to inspire you to make your kids' back-to-school lunches happy, healthy, and hip!
Momof6's Time Saving Tips
There is no doubt that when you are preparing lunches for a half-dozen kids- it is time consuming and quite frankly a bit tedious day-after-day. I find that the whole process comes together much more smoothly when I follow these tips:
#1- Plan your lunches in advance
Every Sunday night I sit down the the school hot lunch menu and find out if any of my kids plan to purchase the school lunch for the coming week. For every day that they would like to pack a lunch from home (which is most days for most kids!), we plan what their entree will be, and we write it down on the school lunch calendar. That way, I can see in one place- who is buying, who is packing lunch, and what I need to prepare for that day.
#2- Prepare the fruit, chips, snack, and water bottles the night before
I like to have the kids pull all of this together while I am making dinner and they are helping out and setting the table.
#3- Prepare the entree in the morning when cooking breakfast
Since my kids head out the door in 2 waves…. I prepare lunches for my elementary schoolers right after I make breakfast for my middle schooler. The house is pretty quiet at this point, as the younger five are still asleep, so it is easy for me to focus on the task at hand and just get it done!
#4- Get the kids to help!
I find that my kids like to help pack up their lunch items and pick out their snacks. It allows them to share in some decision making (even though I am still looking over their selections to make sure that no one packs Oreos with a side of Oreos for lunch!) and I appreciate the help!
#5- On weekends, cook up extra quantities that would make great lunchbox meals!
Today's inspiration for mini lunchbox apple pies came out of my desire to bake an apple galette for dessert for our Sunday dinner. When you already have everything out to make one pie, it isn't too much harder to make 2! And if you can find a way to create a one-off recipe in a smaller package for lunch… the kids won't even think of it as a “leftover”!
Recipe for Mini Lunchbox Apple Pies
Blend flour and salt in a food processor. Using on and off turns, cut the butter into the flour mixture until coarse crumbs form. Add 2 tablespoons of ice water and blend until clumps begin to form. Add 1 additional tablespoon of water and blend again until the dough begins to come together in a large ball. Gather dough and flatten into a disk. Chill for 1 hour before rolling out the dough.
Roll out the dough and using a 3 1/2″ round biscuit cutter, cut out circles and press into a greased muffin tin.
Apple Pie Filling:
Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat and add the apples. Sprinkle the 2 tablespoons of sugar on top, and saute the apples until they are starting to turn golden and soft. Remove from heat and add in the cinnamon and dried cherries. Allow to cool a bit before spooning the filing into the muffin cups.
Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes.
And don't forget to tuck in that little love note!
And remember to head on over to Little Lunch Notes to print off this adorable note for your kids' lunch boxes! They are sure to be the hit of the cafeteria!
So what’s your best time-saving tip when it comes to preparing your kids school lunches? Please leave us a comment and share!