I still can’t believe that A is going to be a kindergartner?! When did this happen? My husband and I are still in disbelief that we will have a child in elementary school! It feels funny to talk about it when most days, I still feel like a student myself. But I guess that’s just wishful thinking and (not) realizing my actual age.
While we’re still soaking up the best of our summer days, I am starting to (slowly) plan for the upcoming school year. If there’s a thing or two I’ve learned about parenthood, it is that most of us are winging it most days of the week. But, when it comes to being prepared for school, it helps me to have a little bit more structure to keep this happily chaotic household running a little bit smoother.
One of the things that I enjoy doing (especially during the school year) is grocery shopping and meal planning for the week. While grocery shopping with all three kids is sometimes like running a marathon, a trip to Target is always welcomed by everyone in this house. It’s a great place to shop for all the things and the boys love to help me pick out their favorites. I love being able to use my Red Card for extra savings on top of the great prices on brands that I readily purchase every week.
You know me, I’m always about keeping things as simple as possible. When A transitioned to a full-time preschool schedule last fall, I picked up a few tricks to keep the whole packing school lunches a stress-free process. Here are my easy meal planning tips for school lunches:
Strategic Shopping & Buying in Bulk
Not that I needed another excuse to head to my mom mecca, but Target has a great variety of my go-to items for school lunches. From the Glad MatchWare Food Storage Containers to A’s favorite snacks, like Danimals Smoothies and OREO Mini Cookies, Target is my go to for all of our kid-friendly meal items. I try to shop weekly or bimonthly to grab all of the necessities. I love buying the NABISCO Multipacks, Mini NILLA Wafers, BARNUM’S Animal Crackers, Kleenex Wet Wipes and the Horizon Organic Milk Boxes in the bulk sizes.
Keep It Simple
A is a great eater, but he definitely has his go-to meals for lunchtime at school. The most important easy meal planning tips for school lunches is to keep it simple. I used to pack these overly elaborate lunches, only to find out that he didn’t eat most of it or would throw it away. With the lack of time (and mom brain space), I use a list of all of the food items we have on hand and then make multiple lunches.
I always make sure to pack a Danimals Smoothie drink. A’s favorite is the Strawberry Danimals Smoothie, so I stock up on those when we’re at Target. Another item I add to his school lunches are Kleenex Wet Wipes. I use them myself before and after meal prep. And it’s easy for A to wipe his hands and face during meal times at school, too.
My Go-To Lunch Recipes
Turkey Wrap with Veggies & Fruit
- Turkey, cheese, & lettuce tortilla wrap
– 1.5 oz. turkey
– 1 oz. cheese
– Lettuce leaves
– Flour tortilla (6 inch, 43g)
- 5 celery sticks
- 1 tbsp Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing
- 1/2 cup blueberries
- Mini CHIPS AHOY! Cookies
- Danimals Strawberry Smoothie
- 1 Individually wrapped KLEENEX Wet Wipes
Turkey Pita with String Cheese & Fruit
- Turkey, avocado and tomato on whole wheat pita
– 2 mini whole wheat pita
– 1.5 oz turkey lunchmeat
– 2 slices tomato
– 1/4 avocado, sliced
- 1 reduced-fat mozzarella string cheese
- Banana, small
- OREO Mini Cookies
- Danimals Strawberry Smoothie
- 1 individually wrapped KLEENEX Wet Wipes
Changing Up One or Two Items
With the NABISCO Cookie Multipacks, it’s so easy to switch up his snack for the day. Sometimes he opts to have a pita instead of a tortilla wrap. And I switch up the fruit depending on what we have in stock at home. It’s super easy to use the Glad MatchWare Food Storage Containers for both his main meal and fruit/veggie side. It’s the perfect serving size and fits perfectly in his school lunchbox.
Setting Aside Time for Meal Prep
I take an hour or two during Sunday nap time to get school lunches ready and made for the week. The wraps and pitas are easy to assemble and the NABISCO Cookie Multipacks, and Danimals Smoothies are easily added each morning. Minimal time spent on preparing school lunches is a win for me. I always seem to be short on time in the mornings, so this helps me to be organized and ready to go for school drop off each morning.
Now that A is officially headed to Kindergarten, I love the idea of packing little notes in his lunch box. Just a little reminder during his busy day at the “big kid” school.