First off, congratulations to the winners of the “back-to-school” giveaway. Meggin Wetherill, a mom from Texas and Lori Herbert, a Tennesse mom, have Pottery Barn Kids’ backpacks, lunchboxes, thermoses, and handy storage containers coming their way. Stay tuned for a second giveaway to be announced on September 6.

Secondly, thanks to everyone for sharing lunch packing tips. It made me wonder why I’m the one writing the food blog. They were GREAT. So great, I culled through the comments and turned them into a guide: 6 steps for seamless packed lunches. Now all you smart moms can learn from one another.

1. Plan Ahead

• Pre-pack snacks and sides in re-usable storage containers for the week so you can “grab and go” on school days. Sorting and packing your own sides is more economical and eco-friendly than buying pre-packaged single serving items.
• When you come home from the market, clean, chop and store fruit and veggie sides right away.
• Make a game plan on weekends as to what lunch will be each day.
• If the weekend is too far out, do it the night before and get much of the packing done ahead of time.
• If you are a “morning of” kind of gal, wake up early to avoid the mayhem.

2. Involve the Kids

• Brainstorm lunch ideas with your kids. The more involved they are, the more likely to eat their lunches.
• Find out their likes and dislikes. Having a peek at what comes home uneaten each day can help.
• Get their input when you are writing out a shopping list.
• Try a new sandwich or other food item together on non-school days to see if it’s a winner.
• Let them have some control: they get to choose snacks, sides or sandwiches.

3. Make Use of Leftovers

• Turn leftover rice or noodles into a lunchbox main course by adding veggies to create a one-dish lunch.
• During dinner prep make enough extra to set aside for lunches.
• When putting food away after dinner, package up leftovers for school lunch; one less thing to do in the morning.
• Invest in a good wide mouth thermos to keep leftovers warm.

4. Enlist some Helpers

• Get the kids involved in preparing lunches to help promote independence and lighten your load.
• Given some parameters, older kids can do the job themselves, younger ones can pitch in.
• Ask kids to empty reusable containers when they come home from school. Older kids can clean lunchboxes and wash containers themselves.

5. Make it Fun

• Get creative to make the process more interesting for everyone.
• Try cookie cutters to create interesting sandwich shapes.
• Use bento box style lunch containers for a variation on the norm.
• Include a little note reminding your child how much you love them.

6. “Try it on Tuesdays” (This one I lifted directly from one clever commenter…you know who you are, so thank you for the idea!)

• Pack foods you know are safe bets every day of the week except Tuesday.
• Take Tuesdays to get a little adventurous with the lunchbox, experimenting with new menu items.
• Get the kids involved in deciding what the next “try it on Tuesday” is going to be.
• Incorporate new foods that go over well into the weekly rotation.

Mom’s Kitchen Handbook has teamed up with Pottery Barn Kids to develop recipes and tips for a healthy back-to-school season. As part of this exciting partnership, the company has provided Mom’s Kitchen Handbook in-kind product for reader giveaways and personal use. You can my find recipes and “how to” cooking videos by going to Pottery Barn Kids .

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  1. 08.17.2011 at 12:19 PM #

    These are really handy tips. My toddler (21 months) is headed to nursery school for the first time on Monday and I’ve been fretting about packing his little snack. Also, I have to share that after reading your post on Greek yogurt I introduced my son to it and he LOVES it! I sweeten it with either a bit of homemade peach jam (a new hobby of mine) or honey. His eyes lit up when I gave it to him. It’s always great when you find something a toddler will actually eat!

    • katiemorford
      08.17.2011 at 12:38 PM #

      That’s great. Greek yogurt has double the protein of regular yogurt, making it extra nourishing for the little ones. Adding your own homemade peach jam is brilliant…of course he loves it!

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