Psssst… this post *might* contain affiliate links: see my disclosure here.
And… they’re OFF!! At least one of them is. Eleanor’s first day of school is today. In the past, it’s hit me with a sucker punch to the emotional gut. This year it’s been easier. Today she’s ready! Outfit picked out on Tuesday. Hair braided. Tooth missing. Ladies and gentlemen… we have ourselves a FIRST GRADER. You know what this first grader needs to bring to school? Like EVERY day? Lunch. I love lunch. But I HATE packing it. Have you ever looked on Pinterest for lunch box ideas? Don’t. It’s all sandwich rolls and bento boxes and cartoon shaped sandwiches and sooooo many colors. My kid won’t touch anything in the RO or GBIV spectrum of the color wheel… only the Y. Salad? Nope. Sliced red peppers? Definitely not. Edamame or sushi or multigrain anything. Nada. Needless to say, our lunch boxes tend to look like a neutral color wheel.
This year, I decided to delegate and try something new with the whole lunch thing. We’re going self serve. Boom.
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After some quick googling, I decided that the containers would be divided into: Proteins, Fruits/ Vegetables, Drinks, Snacks and Treats. I will be responsible for the main course. Maybe a sandwich or leftover pasta or soup or something.
Martha and I hit to grocery store and then I came home, unpacked everything and divided up items amongst the various bins. One thing I noticed from the get go, was that it will be easy to note when something needs replenishing. Our previous system of throwing everything onto the shelf meant that half the time I couldn’t find things and the other half I realized when supplies were low when lunch consisted of raisins and rice cakes.
The premise of the system is that the kids can choose anything in each container but they can only have the number marked on the tag: 1 snack, 1 treat, 1 protein, 1 drink and 2 fruits/ vegetables.
Snacks and treats live within reach on our kitchen shelves. I labeled each one and made a note of how many items from each basket the kids can grab: 1 treat and 1 snack.
The refrigerator bins hold fruits/ vegetables, proteins, and drinks. In addition to the prepackaged food, I included some sliced carrots and apples in reusable snack packs.
Oliver helped me pick out a simple basket that can hold everyone’s lunch boxes. A wooden crate stores tupperware, snack bags, and my favorite reusable food pouches (affiliate).
Lastly, I used these chalkboard tags to label the baskets and plain ol’ washi tape with a Sharpie for the refrigerator bins.
We shall see how the kids do with this system! Obviously it will be up to me to keep things replenished, but I love the idea that they will be actively choosing what they eat and hopefully gain an understanding of what a ‘balanced-ish’ meal should look like! It may not be quinoa or chia seed pudding, but… it’s a start. Baby steps here.