“How was your day?”
“What did you do?”
“What made you laugh today?”
“Who did you sit by at lunch?”
These, along with 50 other questions, are what I fire off at my kids the very second they get home from school. Some days my kids rattle on and on about the happenings on the playground, but more often they simply give me a few grunts, blank stares, and mumble “I’m hungry. Can we have a snack?” If I leave those two to their own food scavenger hunt, they will dive head first into the pantry, eat a bag of chips, and plop onto the couch in a carb comma until dinner. So I created a snack system that carried over into the kids helping to pack their own lunches in the morning. Now I know they are getting yummy, healthy, and proportioned snacks after school and the dreaded task of packing lunches, has gotten so much easier. Add these to my list of back to school parenting hacks to make snacking and lunch box packing a breeze.
Create a Snack Station
Use small plastic storage containers as your designated snack bin (I got mine at the dollar store)—have one for the fridge and one for the pantry.
For the fridge, pack the container full of snacks your kids love: yogurt, cheese, cut up fruit in sandwich bags, fruit cups, veggies and dippers like hummus, peanut butter or ranch (use small to-go condiment containers for the dips), small portions of meats in sandwich bags, juice and milk boxes and small bottles of water are just a few ideas.
For the pantry bin, portion out bagged snacks like chips, crackers, and trail mix and throw in applesauce, raisins, and granola bars.
My kids know they can have two items from the fridge and one from the pantry. I try to only refill the items once they have eaten everything. This way I know they are getting some variety of food after school. With Snack Stations, I know my kids aren’t over eating and won’t be full on snacks and ignore dinner.
Create a Lunchbox Making Station
Depending on the storage space in your kitchen, use either small, plastic stackable drawers in the pantry or baskets to organize each menu item. While I’m packing their “main course,” the kids are choosing what else will go in their lunchbox based on the numbers listed outside the drawers or baskets. You can use chalkboard paint just a sharpie to write the number on the outside of the container. The rule in this house is they don’t have to take everything, but they need a variety and cannot take more than the actual number (unless it’s a fruit or veggie, then take as much as you want—a mother can dream ,right?)
In the Pantry
Drinks (in addition to water): 1
Salty, Crunchy snacks and crackers (individual bags that I proportioned or the lunch size):1
Apple sauce, fruit cups: 1
Special Treats like fruit gummies or a piece of chocolate: 1
In the fridge
Different cheeses: 1
Yogurt and yogurt drinks: 1
Fruits and Veggies: 2
This system allows them to make choices on what they want to take and they are being responsible (and saving me time) by packing their own lunches.
Also I use command hooks inside the pantry door to store their lunchboxes when they aren't in use,
I designate a drawer that has everything I need to put their lunch together in one place: plastic utensils, napkins, sandwich bags, and little Post-Its and pens so I can write little notes to my kids. Since my kids are really little, I draw silly pictures and it makes them laugh, which is always rad.
All this talk about snacks has me hungry! Looking to make breakfast a little easier? Check out my breakfast sanity savers!
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