Jen Oh

Making Lunch Easier

Lunch. As a mom, it’s the meal I dread the most. Even when I have the best intentions, our morning seems to be full of groggy running around, trying to quickly pack lunches, and getting out the door. Even as homeschoolers, it seems we are forever on the go. If I don’t pack us lunch, we end up eating out – which costs a lot and isn’t always healthy.

As a nutritionist, I wanted to find a way to make it easier for me to create easy, simple, but delicious lunches that everyone (including my husband and I) would enjoy.

Know Your Limitations

For lunch time to be easier, I had to understand my limitations. I am not always great at meal planning, but I try to bake or put together at least 1-2 healthy snacks a week. We’ve baked a few of my favorites in my classes, but it can be as simple as going to the bulk bins and creating our own trail mix to use for the week.

I have about 15 minutes in the morning to put together our lunches. So I need it to be quick and easy for us, At an HMN of San Jose meeting, we started talking about listing our lunch favorites and the idea led me to creating an easy pieces and parts cheat sheet, which I’m sharing with you. To help give you ideas, I’m sharing my cheat sheet filled out with our favorite staples (with links to my favorite snack recipes) and a blank version so you can create a custom cheat sheet for your family.

Buy Lunch Staples

Using my cheat sheet, I can make sure I buy are favorite staples at the farmers market and store. I try to have 3-5 staples from each list, so I don’t hear complaints about too many repeats. I also try to prep my washing, cleaning, and/or cutting. As soon as we get greens, I wash and dry them so they’re ready to go. I pre-cut carrots, celery, and cucumbers. Hard boiling eggs, having pickles on hand, and making extra dinner for leftovers also help us save so much time in the long run!

Have the right lunch box

Finding the lunch containers, box, or bag that’s right for you makes packing lunch faster and easier! For us, a bento system seems to work best. We have a few different brands/systems, but the one thing in common is that they have at least 3-5 compartments or containers. The largest is used for our main dish (usually with our protein), next is veggies, fruit, and then sweet treat (if it’s a 3 part system then the fruit is our sweet treat). I have found this system to be especially good for my kids (and husband) to utilize to help pack lunches faster. They seem to have no issue with picking their fruit, veggies, and sweet treat – so I can focus on the main dish.

Keep it simple

It’s easy for me to feel guilty that my kids get quick packed lunches. No cute bentos, with animal shaped rice balls and heart cut veggies here. Some days, my kids get meat and cheese rolled around pickle spears. Other days, I can make amazing Mexican bows with rice, beans, cheese and all the fixings. What’s important is that my family eats and is well fed.

Hopefully, these tips and suggestions will help you too!