Time Saving Tip: Get Ahead On Lunch Box Duty

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Do you ever see an idea and think “Why on earth didn’t I think of that???”  When I saw this post from Money Saving Mom, I couldn’t believe that I hadn’t thought to make at least a week’s worth of PB&J’s instead of pulling out all the lunch supplies each day.  (Duh???) I’m betting you could make sandwiches ahead for the entire month and freeze them, but we started out by just preparing a week’s worth of lunches on Sunday afternoon  . . .

 

Note the “C” for Caroline – she likes only peanut butter, Jackson can’t survive without jelly :)

I wasn’t quite up for those homemade Uncrustables (thankfully my kiddos enjoy their crust . . . however I do applaud you mommas who de-crust your children’s sandwiches!)  But just taking the time to prepare our lunch supplies has already made such a difference in our week.  Here’s what our lunch stash looks like now in the fridge . . .

 

 

The drawer below this one holds the fruit stash:  fresh apples and strawberries.  (All purchased with my Sam’s Club Gift Card, don’t forget to enter to win yours!)   I could however use some tips though on how to pack fruit like strawberries and grapes ahead of time so that they don’t get soggy. If you have any ideas please leave a comment to share!

 

I also went ahead and wrapped up items for snacks – we popped popcorn and wrapped homemade brownies up for desserts, and added a few pre-packaged snacks . . .

 

When my kids dumped their empty lunchboxes on the counter after school yesterday, I quickly refilled them while they did their homework (which took all of a minute . . . woohoo!)  My four-year old even packed her own lunch while they worked, and I seriously wondered why on earth I never thought of this before!

 

Do you have any great tips on handling lunch box duty (and suggestions besides PB&J for your children’s lunch box meal?)  I’d love to hear them, so take a minute and leave a comment to share!  

 

Looking for some super cute lunch box ideas?  Check these out . . .

These are all way fancier than I’m up for . . . we’re just sticking with the basics here.  But aren’t they so stinkin’ cute???

 

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Comments

  1. Dollie Phillips says:

    As far as packing fruit, I’ve found that washing and letting grapes air dry works best. Also, I place them in a ziploc baggie with a paper towel in them for cushioning and to absorb any moisture they may get in the lunch kit. Be careful with things like yogurt and cheese sticks. I watched a show on tv talking about the temp of the inside of your child’s lunch box by the time the get to lunch and how it wasn’t cool enough (even with the ice packs) to keep bacteria from growing in these items. They basically said if the item needs to be refrigerated, it should be avoided in their lunch boxes even when using cold packs in them. = )

  2. Jeni says:

    For apples.. Cut up several ahead of time. Use some ball fruit fresh ($1 Ball accessory coupon) priced less than $4 at kroger and walmart. I think you use 2 tsp with 3 Tb water and toss ot coat. Place in individual baggies and they are the homemade equivalent of crunch packs. I don’t know how long they last because my kids eat them up so quickly. Get more bang for you buck by going to an orchard and splitting a bushel of apples with some friends. Call around for prices because orchard prices can vary significantly.

    • Laurie says:

      Jeni – that’s just plain old brilliant! I tried using lemon juice (it works on apples too) but my pickier daughter isn’t going for it. My son eats his apples whole, so he’s been fine just taking a whole apple. But I’d been trying to figure this out!

      I also tried out the paper towel trick and so far my kids still say they’re soggy :( I’d really like to send them with strawberries, but they want them fresh! I’ve been serving fresh fruit for snack lately when they get home, so I’m at least adding a little extra produce to their diets if I can’t send enough to school!

  3. Dollie Phillips says:

    I have a question.
    How well do the sandwiches come out if you freeze them after making them? My son is SO picky when it comes to his sandwiches and ONLY likes the way the Uncrustables are when they’re thawed out. He likes them soft and not crumbly or dry. Do you find the sandwiches to stay soft after freezing or refrigerating? I haven’t experimented with it yet. I need to since those darn Uncrustables are so expensive!

    • Michelle says:

      I believe “Pampered Chef” or one of those types of catalogs has a sandwich “mold” if you will that makes the bread EXACTLY like UnCrustables. Here is a link: http://www.pamperedchef.com/our_products/catalog/product.jsp?productId=33&categoryCode=CE

      They are a little pricy but over time it’s cheaper than uncrustables!

      Also pineapple juice “preserves” the apples just like lemon juice and tastes better! I generally cut up fruit of the season and add a jar of sliced pineapples with juice and it lasts all week!

      • Laurie says:

        Pineapple juice – really? I have seen those uncrustables things – that would be a HUGE money saver in the long run! Do you think any juice would work (I’m just trying to think of what I have here – I have loads of V8 Splash and I’m tempted to try it just to see!)

  4. Laurie says:

    I’m curious about that too Dollie. So far no complaints (but we’re only at day 2!) I definitely think it’s worth using cling wrap instead of plastic bags b/c it keeps the are out, but my guess is the frozen ones would work also. We freeze bread all the time and it’s super fresh when it thaws, so I really think by freezing it you’d be okay (you might want to try a sandwich tonight and see how it works!)

    Also, be sure to put peanut butter on both sides with jelly in the middle so the jelly doesn’t make the sandwich soggy :) I’m with you on the expensive uncrustables – my kids have never had them for that reason, but I do love the idea of how convenient they are!

  5. Ginger says:

    Maybe add a paper towel to the container/zip-lock for the fruit? That’s what I do for my husband’s sandwiches. (I don’t pre-make his sandwiches – he say’s they’re soggy but he likes lots of mayo – yuck!) I make the sandwiches on a paper towel and when I’m through, I wrap it in the paper towel and put it in the ziplock. He used to refuse to eat sandwiches because they were soggy, but he said the paper towel works well – plus keeps his grubby hands from touching his sandwiches.

  6. jj jayne says:

    I was making my hubbys lunch ahead of time because he leaves so early in the am. I would freeze his pb & j or ham & cheese sandwiches & they were fine. he did like a paper towel wrapped around them in the baggie.

  7. beckie says:

    Yah I am glad it saved you time. Thanks for the shout out and link to my uncrustables. I sure appreciate the exposure.

  8. Sheryl says:

    We wash our fruit like grapes, blueberries and strawberries. Set them out to dry. After the drying period is up (so fruit won’t stick together we place them in the freezer in snack bags. My grandchildren love to get frozen fruit. When it’s time to eat there lunch at school it’s still a bit frozen. It also acts as a ice pack for inside there lunch boxes. We still add a ice pack on the bottom, but it’s like getting two for one.

  9. Denise says:

    Great ideas!

  10. Belinda says:

    I have recently purchased the Pack-It lunch carrier that my grandsons saw advertised on television. It claims to keep food cold for 10 hours. We have been VERY happy with ours! I used to freeze the plastic water bottle that my youngest wanted to drink with his lunch, but the Pack-It stays so cold, it doesn’t allow the water to melt in time for his lunch – wonderful! Now I just stick the water in the freezer before breakfast and when I put it in the Pack-It for his lunch, it’s very cold and stays cold! I will admit, though, that the Pack-It is pricey, but I am finding it’s very well worth the price!

  11. Sheila H. says:

    Caroline had that sandwich today! I noticed it at lunch. Great idea!

  12. Sarah says:

    I make sandwiches by the loaf (or 2), ziploc each, then freeze. All the bagged sandwiches go back in the bread bag (which fits nicely in the freezer door!). The sandwiches thaw by lunchtime and I don’t need to worry about ice packs. Unless they are taking something else that needs to stay cold.

  13. tiffany says:

    Grapes and strawberries are great if you freeze them and then pull them out and put in lunch box. Also if you cut up Gala apples they will not turn brown these can be keep in the fridge a few days ahead of time. Peanut butter is great with the apples and yogurt is a great dip for the grapes and strawberries.

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  1. [...] few days ago I re-read a good post about making school lunch prep less stressful.  It was right in line with how I want my lunch prep [...]

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