This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Disney. All opinions are entirely my own.
Every summer, I fill my Pinterest boards with all of my wonderful ideas for the coming school year. This includes plenty of pins of all the amazing things I’m going to put in lunch boxes.
Then somewhere around, oh, let’s say, Week Two of back-to-school, this mom comes to her senses. There’s no way I can keep this up. I don’t have an hour per night to spend baking, cooking and assembling lunch boxes. I don’t even have an hour a week!
So this year, I’m determined to get real about school lunches. I know I can find ready-to-eat, convenient foods and still be making wholesome, responsible choices for my family.
I’m assembling what I call my reality-based school lunch kit — the things I like to keep on hand to pack a lunch box when I need to be out the door in two minutes flat. Here are the essentials I’m stocking up on:
1. Bottled water. Sure, that new lunch box came with a matching water bottle. But guess what? There’s an approximately 90 percent chance that water bottle is not going to be clean on the Wednesday morning when we need to be at school 20 minutes early for a make-up spelling test.
2. Berries and/or grapes. I tend to buy whatever berries or grapes look and are priced the best any given week for lunches. It’s fruit that doesn’t have to be cut, and I don’t have to worry about the fruit browning before lunch time.
3. Unsweetened applesauce cups or pouches. I always keep these around for that Monday morning when I didn’t get to the farmer’s market over the weekend.
4. Disney Frozen® String Cheese. This cheese is a good source of calcium and protein, and with a child who prefers no sandwiches in her lunch box, it’s sometimes hard to feel like I’m giving her enough protein at lunchtime. I found this Disney Frozen String Cheese in the dairy section at my Kroger. It’s perfect for lunch boxes because it is already individually wrapped and ready to go!
5. “Mini” vegetables. Choosing miniature versions of vegetables adds up to less cutting and prep time — grape tomatoes and baby-cut carrots require no cutting, in fact. We also like to keep mini cucumbers and mini sweet bell peppers for lunch box variety and color.
6. Crunchy things. Crackers, nuts (if allowed at your child’s school), pumpkin or sesame seeds and pretzels all fit into this category at my house.
7. Dips. Ranch, salsa, sour cream-dips, nut butters, hummus and cream cheese fit the bill.
8. Treats. While I’m a believer in keeping it healthy, I also think a school lunch needs a handful of fruit snacks or a small piece of chocolate, just to keep it fun.
These are my go-tos. You should tailor this list to your family’s wants and needs. I like to wash the produce and keep it ready to go in my refrigerator. You could also pack up mini containers of dips for the week in advance.
If you streamline your school lunch packing routine by keeping these 8 essentials around, zipping up the lunch boxes and adding lunchbox notes will likely be the most time-consuming part of your school lunch packing routine!
→ Right now, you can earn cash back with this Ibotta offer when you buy Disney Frozen String Cheese. It’s made with milk and is a good source of calcium and protein, making Disney Frozen string cheese ideal for lunchboxes and after-school snacks!
Check out more tips and find activities for your kids at www.cheeseadventures.com.