Monday, January 4, 2016

How to Prep School Lunches Only Once a Week

I had a "duh" moment the other day.  You know when you realize something is as easy as pie and you don't have a clue as to why you have never thought of it before?  I had this duh moment the other day when I saw this post over at Your Modern Family about preparing all the lunches for your family only ONCE A WEEK.  It's basically all about how to prepare school lunches only once a week by making a bunch of lunch sandwiches or wraps ahead of time at the beginning of the week.  Then you freeze them and the kids just grab and go as they pack their lunches.  Easy make-ahead freezer lunches.  Brilliantly easy, right?  Duh. Duh. Duh.

Now this is particularly a really DUH moment for me because I am the same person who wrote some posts in past years about this very thing.  Remember How to Make Easy Freezer Pancakes?  And DIY Frozen Breakfast Burritos?  These two posts have gone crazy on Pinterest and yet, I never thought to expand my own idea to lunch.  And, I even hate packing lunches for my kidlets!  But I do it anyway (with them helping me) because it saves so much money, and it's healthier, and sometimes school lunch is questionable, and blah blah blah you know this stuff already.

So I knew I had to try this idea of DIY make-ahead freezer sandwich idea.  Gosh, you could even continue this idea in the summer months.  Here's what you do to get it done in 30 minutes or LESS (it took me only 23 mins!):


1.  Get all your sandwich makings out at once.  Just the basic items are needed--bread, spread, and main ingredient.  Some ideas:

peanut butter and jam
almond butter and honey
turkey and cheese
ham and cheese
pepperoni and cheese
wraps of all kinds using large tortillas

Don't worry about prepping lettuce or tomatoes or any extras.  Kids can add these in later on their own OR you can slice and wash them and put it in the fridge ready to go for later--see more below!

2.  Lay out all your slices of bread on the table.  I used about one and a half loaves of bread to make 12 total sandwiches.

3.  Start spreading your ingredients on.  Work fast, doing one condiment on all sandwiches at one time.  It's even faster if you have someone to help you

4.  Add the other ingredients and close each sandwich by placing a piece of bread on top.

5.  How to deal with different tastes and picky kids:

If you have kids that are really picky about certain sandwiches or how they are made then you can creatively think of ways to manage this using these ideas:

--Cut the sandwiches in different ways for different kid.  For example, diagonal cut means "no mustard", or Dad's sandwiches are whole and not sliced, etc.

--Make the sandwiches very basic.  Kids can pull them out of the freezer as they pack their lunch and add their own extras.  

--Wash and slice lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, and other extras.  Keep them in an airtight container in the fridge and kids can add in as they want each day.

--Some schools have condiments on hand for kids to use in the lunchroom (this is the case for me), so I'll have them add their extra mustard at school if they want.

--I've seen little condiment packets for sale at stores.  That is an option too.

6.  Wrap each sandwich with plastic wrap or sandwich baggies.  I use the little fold-top baggies because they are quick and cheap.  Then store in an airtight zip top bag or container and FREEZE!

7.  To complete your lunch preparations, wash and slice fruits and veggies as needed so kids can just add those to their lunchbox along with the sandwich.  Put juice boxes, granola bars, and other lunch items in an easy place for kids to reach.  I'm a big believer in teaching children to be responsible for themselves as much as possible!  I've heard of moms actually dividing out crackers and chips into little baggies too, so the kids can just grab and go (I've never done that, but it's an awesome idea if you have enough sanity left when you get home from the grocery store).

So there you have it!  Now YOU are having a DUH moment too. 

What do you do to make school lunch prep easier?

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  1. This is a great idea! One that I could really use for myself :)

    1. I know! We tried it for my hubs too and it totally saves time for him.

  2. I like this cause I have to make lunches for preschool. Great idea

    1. Oh good idea. Anything to make life easier. Miss you guys.

  3. How does the pb and jelly freeze? I've never thought to do that but it would be such a time saver. Have the kids said anything about the texture changing?

    1. So far they have liked them. The PBJ texture is totally fine--like Smuckers frozen sandwiches. I tried a turkey and cheese one for lunch and it tasted great. Cheese doesn't freeze as well in slices though so grated maybe something you'll want to consider.


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