Lunch Ideas to Get You Through the First Week of School

Heading back to school is an exciting time for your child to meet new friends, try new activities and make new habits, but, as any parent knows, it’s also a pretty hectic time, too. Acclimating to a new schedule can seem like enough work for those first few days of the back-to-school whirlwind, and even the best-laid lunch plans might fall by the wayside. Instead of fretting about food, incorporate some of these helpful school lunch ideas into your first-week repertoire to keep yourself relaxed, your litter levels low and your child’s lunch bag fully prepared.

Lunch Ideas to Get You Through the First Week of School

Draft a menu

Nothing makes getting lunch ready easier than a clear plan. Instead of wandering around the grocery aisles tossing random chips into your cart, create a menu for the week and use it to write up a shopping list. Be sure to set your child up with a pencil and notebook for the brainstorming process too. Involving your kid helps him or her get the chance to make some important decisions, and you know you’re thinking up snacks and sandwiches together that he or she can enjoy in a few days’ time. With your expertly crafted list, you can head to the store with purpose and won’t have to worry about picking up any impulse buys that end up going to waste.

Buy in bulk

Putting together a varied lunch bag and lessening your environmental impact at the same time are easy to accomplish when you buy in bulk. Create an array of healthy snacks you know your child loves, but think bigger. Instead of purchasing individual string cheeses with all those wrappers that just end up in the trash, pack some slices cut off a larger block. Buy bunches of carrots and celery and slice them into sticks instead of getting the pre-cut, pre-washed varieties, and store them in our handy Pottery Barn Kids clear tubs in the fridge. When buying in bulk, you can also rest assured that you aren’t going to run out of supplies midway through the week and have to make an emergency run to the grocery store.

Prep once

One of the reasons why making lunches can seem so daunting is that it requires you to carve time out of a busy day to drop everything and whip up some food. And, on rushed mornings, lunch might be the last thing on your mind. On the night before school starts, set aside an hour or so to prep snacks and sides that you can store in the fridge and pantry all week. Divide servings of crackers into reusable baggies. Wrap chopped veggies in damp paper towels and keep them in small containers with snap lids in the fridge, and pre-portion a big jar of applesauce into a freezer tray instead of buying individual cups. Simply pop one into a storage container when you’re packing, and it’ll be thawed by lunchtime.

Stick with the classics

The first week of school is full of, well, firsts. Getting to know new teachers and classmates is fun, but sometimes a bit of familiarity can really help things go smoothly for your child. Stick to lunch items that you know your student prefers, whether that means easy PB & J sandwiches or a favorite homemade soup that stays warm in one of our handy thermoses.

Pack the night before

To really help mornings run smoothly, you can completely eliminate the need to make lunch during the early rush by organizing everything the evening before, instead. Keep your child’s lunch bag in the refrigerator already packed with perishables and items like water that just taste better chilled. When morning rolls around, you can grab the bag and nestle it in your child’s backpack before the bus even rumbles around the corner. With these school lunch ideas in your arsenal, you’re sure to free up your schedule for plenty of other first-week fun.