Back to school: Gearing up for lunch

Ready for another 180?

Sure, you’ve braced your kids for the early mornings. You’ve bought them their shoes and shirts and binders and book covers. You’ve even scheduled their haircuts and made sure their backpacks can handle another year of abuse. But have you prepared yourself for another 180 school days of packed lunches?

And what about your own lunches? We always say we’ll pack our own because it’s so much cheaper and healthier, yet somehow…

Fact is, there’s not a lot you can do to change the fact that lunch duty is a chore. But a little information – as well as the right gear – can keep it from turning into a dreaded chore. So let’s start with some basics:

– THINK AHEAD

I don’t mean plan out a week’s worth of lunches. That’s just crazy talk. Rather, at dinner the night before, cook a little too much. How much too much? It depends on how many lunches you need to pack the next day. Either way, those leftovers are your easy building blocks for lunch the next day.

Grilling steak or roasting a chicken? Make a little extra and turn it into sandwiches or wraps or a robust salad in the morning. Pasta night? Boil up a little extra. The next day, cold leftovers plus some bottled vinaigrette and whatever veggies or meat you have handy become an easy pasta salad.

– COMPARTMENTALIZE

Ditch the idea of structuring lunch around a main-with-sides model. That’s fine when it works, but often it just puts extra pressure on us. Most people – and particularly kids – are just as happy with a bunch of small items to munch on. Assemble some fruit, fresh veggies, cheese, crackers or bread, a little cold meat, maybe a yogurt and you have a pretty satisfying meal.