Homemade School Lunches: 3 Easy Tips (to keep you from giving up!)

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By the end of summer, parents are dreaming about that first day of school. Summer is long enough to forget about one not-so-fun part of school life: School Lunches. My oldest son started school last year. I was excited and happy about the idea of packing healthy yummy food. Of course, the magic only lasted for a couple of weeks. I was soon debating whether or not I should enroll in the school lunch program. So before I went the easy route and enrolled in the school lunch program, I made some adjustments to our routine which helped with prep and planning.

My boy was great at eating what I packed, but he started to talk about what his friends were having and wanted a similar lunch. So, I had to give in and get a little more creative. A year later, I have a couple of musts that save me time in the morning and keep his lunch fun.

Leftovers as School Lunches

My number one go-to for school lunch is leftovers. It’s a no-brainer. The main thing to keep in mind is that you must make enough food for the next day. But, in my house, we usually go for seconds. Yes, we eat a lot… but no one is judging, right? As I’m serving I put aside a tupperware only for him. I have a small glass container the same size as his school lunch box. That way its ready for heat up in the morning and everyone knows that food is reserved for lunch. 

Another thing to note, before we started school, I was signed up for a meal delivery plan. I loved it! We cooked new things a couple of times a week and added new flavors to our spice drawer. This great program had one big flaw: no leftovers. So, we moved away from meal deliveries and started to plan our own dinners. 

Homemade Lunchables

Homemade Lunchable

Oh, the Lunchables! I had no idea what they were and that kids would love them so much. Yes, I’m one of the few weirdos who had never had them before… I guess because I’m an immigrant and arrived here in High School. After a couple of months, my son started to beg for Lunchables. He pointed them out at the supermarket, so I caved in and got the organic version. 

Shortly after I started making my own version of his favorites. Lunchables are really nothing out of the ordinary. Mostly a deconstructed sandwich or pizza. But if you use the magic word, it becomes a great treat. Play around with the ingredients and add your favorite fruits and veggies and you have a full meal. For pizza Lunchables, I use store-bought pizza sauce and cut up some pita bread. I also always add celery, carrots and mini peppers to ease the guilt. 

Mac and Cheese

When everything else fails, you can always count on the good old Mac and Cheese. I keep a few boxes of my favorite organic version and it’s a lifesaver. Ten minutes of prep and you are ready to pack. Of course, I always prefer a home version, but a rich and decadent mac and cheese takes more time to prep. So, my fast version has proven to be as popular as the boxed one. I always add frozen veggies to the water as it boils, then add whatever pasta I have. After its al dente, I drain the pasta, return to the pan and add Curcuma, olive oil, two tablespoons of heavy cream and whatever grated cheese is in my refrigerator. In ten minutes I have a healthy pasta with a good serving of veggies. Add to the lunchbox and you are out the door. 

Of course, there will be days where you want to give up, buy something pre-packed and call it a day. That is completely ok and understandable, after all, there are about 180 school days in a year. But I hope these three tips can give you ideas and ease the pain!

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Tatiana was born in Bogota, Colombia and moved to the United States at age 15. She moved from Houston to DC in 2007 to work for an international organization. She met her husband at work and married in 2011. She has two children: Santiago (2013) and Antonio (2015) and a Masters degree in Conflict Resoliution. After the birth of her second child, she decided to take time off to stay home and focus on the kids. She is passionate about nutrition, self-led weaning and homemade food. The Story of My Table is her Instagram account and blog where she shares her adventures in the kitchen. She strongly believes that a wine a day keeps the doctor away and that the key to parenting two boys is to keep in good shape. She is not a fan of baking, but would occasionally do it to avoid highly processed food. She is an advocate for natural foods, Montessori education and allowing children to get bored. One day she dreams of building an organization where she can combine her passion for food with peacebuilding.