Note: Over the next week, I’m going to take you with me on a meander through my day. No two days look alike around here, but this will give you a glimpse on my daily rituals of cherishing life. I do this very imperfectly. I would love to hear about your own rituals in the comments. And don’t forget to check out my favorite resources on the bottom of these posts.
Since lunch comes in the middle of our school day, I don’t like to spend a lot of time cooking or eating it. However, I know taking time for nourishment is important, so I’m trying to work on that. It is still more of a self-serve meal than the others.
Our lunches are more tips and tricks than actual recipes. Here are a few things we do to make lunch time smoother:
Make meals basic and easy for younger ones to prepare.
Our lunches typically consist of leftovers from the night before, sandwiches or snacks. When it’s time for lunch, any leftovers are on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator so they can easily be taken out and heated up in individual servings. I keep loaves of bread in the freezer so the bread is always fresh. The kids just take out two slices, lay them on a plate and defrost for 10 seconds in the microwave before spreading on peanut butter and jelly or leftover meats or tuna. I buy the pouches of tuna, so the older two can just dump it in a bowl and add mayo and onions to their taste. I also use tortillas for hot lunches and make cheese quesadillas on my cast iron griddle or have them do their own in the microwave. Another quick lunch is to spread the tortilla with tomato paste, sprinkle on Italian spices and a little salt, add some cheese and veggies and put under the broiler for 2-3 minutes for individual pizzas.
Prep food ahead of time.
When I put away dinner the night before, I think ahead toward leftovers the next day. I pack my husband’s lunch, then put the rest in microwaveable containers for us. Sometimes I repurpose the leftovers to make a new dish. For example, if we had pasta the night before, I’ll toss in some tomatoes, onions, shredded Parmesan and Italian dressing and serve it cold as a pasta salad.
I also like to chop up veggies ahead of time for an instant “salad bar” or to dip in Ranch or guacamole. I wash and store whole fruits like apples and oranges in a specific drawer or bowls in the refrigerator. I wash grapes and take them off the stems, storing half in a bowl in the fridge and half in a bowl in the freezer for frozen grapes.
Make cleanup routine and simple.
I love to use paper plates for lunch if I have them. If I don’t, I have the children each load their own dishes into the dishwasher. Then, I tell them each to put 2 or 3 food items away. A quick swipe of the table and counter tops, and we’re usually ready for the afternoon activities. I try to run the dishwasher with the breakfast and lunch dishes right after lunch, so they will be clean before dinner.
Resources for Easy Lunches:
Healthy Lunch Ideas printable @ Heavenly Homemakers – Sometimes, if I have time to cook something, I make her mac and cheese for lunch or grilled cheese sandwiches with quick tomato soup.
School Lunches @ 100 Days of Real Food – Great resource if you pack a lunch for your child to take to school or if you just want to pack it ahead of time to put in the fridge for lunch time.
Freezer Lunch Ideas @ Money Saving Mom – Crystal says most of these are able to be frozen and pulled out for sack lunches or lunch at home.