My Instagram feed is filled with the most amazing things — dogs surfing in Hawaii, daredevils jumping off 200-foot cliffs, and get this…
…parents carving hearts out of cheese, making faces out of sandwiches, and color-coordinating the contents of bento boxes, all in the name of creating inspiring, wholesome, day-making lunchboxes for their kids. I have nothing against these parents – in fact many times I wished I was that parent — but the best kind of school lunch for my kids was one that I could assemble on the fly. Truth be told, most of the time that meant turkey and cheese sandwiches, but on the best days, I used to use this general formula to help keep me sane:
Something Crispy + Something Fresh + Something Leftover = Lunch!
Here’s how that breaks down:
Ideally, we’re talking low-maintenance produce here, things that need minimal prep: clementines, cherries, blueberries, raspberries, grapes, baby cucumbers, baby carrots, sugar snap peas, grape tomatoes, frozen shelled edamame (they’ll thaw by lunchtime), bananas. No parent should have to break out a melon baller before they are properly caffeinated.
Something Leftover or Pre-Made
In a perfect world this means whatever is leftover from dinner goes right from the stovetop to the PlanetBox for lunch the next day, but consider getting in the leftover frame of mind for other meals: Leftover pancakes and waffles can be frozen, then used as sandwich bread for nut butters, jam, or fresh fruit. A batch of hard-boiled eggs or simple omelets from the weekend can be an easy protein hit. Your kids’ favorite muffins can be made on the weekend, then deployed all week long in the lunch box. I used to save even the tiniest portion of leftover soups or beans or chicken because I found it all added up to something by the time I was faced with that bento box and a ticking clock. Gillian Fein, who runs LaLa Lunchbox, suggests having store-bought tortellini or ravioli at the ready, two easy foods that can be prepped in three minutes, drizzled with olive oil. The new book Lunchbox suggests store-bought gyozas, and the new children’s book — Lunch From Home — looks beautiful.
Trail mix, potato chips, crispy snap peas, seven-grain crackers, rice crackers, beet crackers, plantain chips, wasabi peas, gherkins. And I don’t know how we would have survived all those lunch-packing years without pita chips and hummus.
What are your tips for easy lunch packing? Please share below…
(Photo by Jimena Roquero/Stocksy.)