Before I dive into all things lunches, I have to take a minute to say THANK YOU! You’re all loving my Month of Preschool sets and I’m so excited that I’m able to make your life easier with these – I know how precious your time is and I hope that these are saving you time and energy that you’re able to re-focus on your students. If I could put a great big heart emoji here I totally would! I’m working on April as we speak, so it’s coming I promise!
Let’s talk lunch packing… As a teacher, lunchtime was the bane of my existence. Here’s the thing, having families pack lunches sounds like it would make life easier for the program right? No having to worry about providing meals, shopping for food, making menus, all of those things BUT, if your program is a licensed childcare facility, there are state and federal lunch regulations that have to be met EVEN when families are providing lunches. This means checking every child’s lunch to make sure they have all of the required components – and having to let parents know if something is missing, while also providing that missing piece. Oy, that’s a lot of extra work for a teacher who already has more than enough on their plate (pardon the lunch pun).
I didn’t even mention trying to make sure that 3 and 4 year olds can open all of their different containers – some of those are ridiculous, who makes these things?! All of this played a major roll in the amount of time and effort that I put into finding just the right storage options for my own daughter’s lunches. I needed something that made my life easier, was leak-proof, and easy for her to use. I also really didn’t want to deal with a million different lids and tiny little containers that only fit one very specific type of food.
Enter the Systema Bento Box Adult Lunch Box (this is an affiliate link). After using these for more than half of a school year I can say that they’re absolutely perfect from both the mom and teacher perspective. As a mom, I can pack 3 or 4 at a time and stack them in the fridge so that I only have to pack lunches a couple of times every week (instead of every night), and there’s plenty of room for a variety of different foods while still keeping each item separate. They also clean well in the dishwasher and while there are some pieces and parts to keep track of they all store easily in the lunch container so I’m not looking for them when I need them. Here’s a great photo of the inside (don’t judge the food choices, my kid is picky!):
As a teacher these would be my first recommendation for any family (though I may suggest this smaller option for a preschooler or younger child). It’s really easy to “assign” specific foods to different areas of the container, like grains in the large section, fruits and vegetables in their own spaces, yogurt or dip in the cup with the lid, etc. This ensures that parents are meeting all of the requirements simply by making sure each assigned section has something in it. You could even have a universal packing chart for these, showing families what they should put where, which would make checking everyone’s lunch so quick and easy.
Some other tips that I’ve picked up along the way:
- When you’re packing batches of lunches, put any cracker-type item in a plastic bag so it doesn’t get stale or soggy in the fridge
- If you have yogurt cups, gogurt tubes, applesauce pouches, etc. make sure your child can open them OR put them in a container that your child can open to build independence and save a teacher’s sanity
- My girl NEVER eats her whole lunch, so when she gets home I put out whatever’s left and that’s her afternoon snack
- I tried keeping a plastic spoon and fork in her lunch box but I was always forgetting to wash them or they would get broken – now I throw a spoon right into the bento box as I’m packing, one less thing to worry about every morning
Let’s make this a place for all of the tips and tricks! What are some of the best ideas you’ve seen over the years? Leave them in the comments!