You can use the Lunch Box Meal Planner not only for planning school lunches, but also for the kids at home and your own work lunches you need to pack.
* See below for the Lunch Box Meal Planner Printable *
Creating a lunch box meal plan is not only super for managing your grocery budget, but also for making things much more simple & easy when packing lunches. It can also help you be aware of how nutritious you are being. I try my best to follow the Healthy Eating Pyramid below from Nutrition Australia for all of us and use this Nutrition Australia Guideline For Recommended Daily Intakes as it is different for each age group.
* If you do not know how big a 'serve' is take a look at eatforhealth.gov.au for a guide in each category.
Watch on the This Mum At Home You Tube Channel
What Use To Happen
See how I NOW do freezer sandwiches on a Sundays!
I don’t know about you but I’m rush rush rush in the morning getting Joseph ready for school. Packing his lunchbox can throw a spanner in the works if I havn’t been organized. I also now need to think about Isabella at home with me! I can only imagine what it must be like for those that have more children and that are also packing lunches for work! This is where I created lunch box meal planning for myself.
When I first started doing school lunches I had no process. I would just throw what ever I could find in the cupboard in there, a piece of fruit and a sandwich to just get it done. The problem with this was I would sometimes find I didn’t have enough things; I didn’t have balanced nutrition and Mr. would start leaving things and not eating them because he was getting bored and sick of the same things day in day out. As much as he loves apples (and he really does he’ll eat 5 a day if I don’t stop him) some different fruit was always received happily. I also found myself in a panic every morning doing it and sometimes late for school if I couldn’t work out what to put in. By the second term of his first year of school I had used the lunch box meal planning and boy did it make things more simple.
So what is Lunch Box Meal Planning
It is pretty much like your regular meal planning you may do for home, but with the added bonus of creating a working inventory. I even have special containers/areas in the pantry/fridge/freezer I keep my ‘stock’ in for each planned out school week. On a Sunday I get my special containers out and see what has been left from the week before. I then plan out what will go in the lunch box each day. The foods I choose for the kids usually consists of the following type of items:
- Main Lunch Item – is usually a sandwich that is Vegemite or ham/cheese are the favorites (he would love peanut butter, but he is not allowed nuts at school. Too many kids with serious allergies!). See this video on Freezer Sandwiches I do every Sunday.
- Fruit & Veg - two to three of the following is usually chosen apples, strawberries, pears, watermelon, blueberries, carrot, cheese & cucumber sticks
- Dairy – Cheese & biscuits, yoghurt, smoothie or custard (in summer I usually put in the squishy pouches frozen rather than the tubs so they stay ok in the heat and they thaw by the time he gets to it.)
- Grains (besides his sandwich) – one of the following Muslie Bars (usually Uncle Tobys as they are peanut free), granola, rice cakes or Aldi plain popcorn.
- Snack Item – these are usually items you should not have a lot of so I try and do just 1 item or maybe even just every second day now. Items are now usually Healthiers Potato Curls or Rice Wheels, pretzels or on the odd occasion a small piece of cake/cupcake, cinnamon donut etc.
- Drink – is always just water.
What I Do Now
So Sunday is currently my big Meal Planning day. I do all meals Meal Planning for my grocery shopping and that includes doing a separate lunch box meal plan on the below printable. I make sure to put ALL foods I will be packing into Josephs lunch box for the next 5 days away in a separate area to ensure no one eats at other times and I do not run short. Planning also helps make sure the lunch box is well balanced nutritionally.
The Steps I Take:
1. I look through my fridge, freezer and pantry on what foods I already have.
2. I start filling out each section of the Lunch Box Meal Planning sheet based on items I already have and then ideas of foods I would like/need to get in the grocery shop.
3. After I write up my plan I fill my 'special containers' in the pantry, fridge & freezer with the items I need for 5 days. This includes making my freezer sandwiches and pre packing fruits such as berries, grapes etc into small containers ready to go. Having these containers ensure that those items do not get eaten at any other time and ensure I have what I need for the lunch box - see Lunch Box Meal Planning - Simple Sundays video below.
4. The night before a school day, when I'm cleaning out Josephs lunch box, I quickly put in all pantry items I have pre selected and set aside for the morning. In the morning I pull the last pre selected foods I need from the fridge and freezer.
By doing my Sunday preparation now all of this takes less than 2 minutes to do and I'm out the door on time. Before it would take me 15-20 minutes (that I do not have or could be better spent elsewhere) selecting, sorting and making. I was so busy with everything else I needed to do in the evening (homework, baths, dinner, uniforms, clean up, work etc) and so stressed in the morning trying not to be late to school! Its now so much easier and made my life that bit more simple.