Last March I started packing a lunch daily for myself, Cady, and David. By April I knew that I needed to come up with a plan to make the process easier. Let me tell you something, if you’ve never packed three lunches while trying to get everyone dressed and out the door in the morning, it isn’t easy. I decided to organize a “lunch station” to make meal prep easier and speed up my morning routine.
My kitchen cabinet was completely disorganized, which was slowing me down. Every morning I had to dig through this to find containers for our food:
No fun. Plus, all of the other supplies I needed were spread out between the pantry and other cabinets. I decided to reorganize my cabinets so that all of the things I needed to prepare lunch were in one spot. Thus the lunch station was born.
The first thing I did was take everything out of that messy cabinet. I threw away the bowls with no lids and the lids with no bowls. The small containers that could be used for lunch items were placed in an upper cabinet next to where I prepare lunches. Everything else traded places with my baking pans in a new, smaller cabinet where they are less likely to fall over and spread out.
Also in my “lunch station”, I added thermoses for hot food days, and I moved the sandwich bags from the pantry to the cabinet. In addition to those supplies, I keep a small grater for cheese and eggs, a cutting board for slicing fruits, tortilla roll-ups, and sandwiches, and a food scale. Lunch kits are returned to the counter when we get home so that they are easy to find in the mornings.
In the pantry, I keep all of the lunch items like bread, pretzels, crackers, fruit cups, etc. on one shelf. I walk in once, grab everything I need, and take it back to the counter to work. I do the same thing with cold items that are stored in the refrigerator. All drinks are kept in the outside frig.
Another thing I noticed when I started preparing daily lunches for all of us was the number of storage bags and other disposable items that were being thrown in the garbage every day (or making their way home for me to toss). I’m not terribly environmentally friendly, but even I was offended by the waste.
I purchased a set of Easy Lunchboxes (affiliate link) for Cady to use. I really like them, but they are not spill proof, and sometimes I pack something that leaks. This year I also ordered a couple of these Laptop Lunches bento boxes (affiliate link).
I like that they come in a container that can be pre-packed the night before and placed in the refrigerator. The next morning I just have to slide it into their lunch kits and add an ice pack. If you decide to purchase either of these, I recommend that you verify the measurements for the lunch kits you are using. Last year, the fit for the Easy Lunchboxes was a little snug for the lunch kit Cady used.
The mad rush of busy back to school mornings will be on us soon. This year I will be packing four lunches. I’m going to try to do some meal preparation at night, but in the past I haven’t been great with keeping up with that. I’m thankful I came up with this idea for a lunch station last year and have had a chance to put it into use and even make some improvements. I know it preparing a healthy lunch will be a lot easier than when I started in March.
Do you pack lunches for your family? What ideas have you put in place to make the process easier? Any other time saving back to school tips you can offer would also be appreciated.