52 week challenge week 35: Back to school routines and lunch stations

Too much lunch!

Too much lunch! (Photo credit: flakyredhead)

School days are coming close – or for some of you, may even be here! Time to create (or maybe fine-tune?) your plans.

First, what routines will you have? Making a plan and instituting it early (if you still have time) will help smooth those rushed mornings. I suggest at least 2 routines:

  • Night routine: Because we all know that a good morning begins the night before. This is the time to pack backpacks, check folders/homework, make lunches (or prepare what you can), think about and set out breakfast (bowls and cereal are easy, or fruit and plates to be filled), choose and lay out outfits, and whatever else you need to do to ensure you are ready. This is also the time to think about what time to go to bed and wake up – and don’t forget to set your alarm!
  • Morning routine: Because you did so well prepping last night, this should be relatively easy to do – just get through grooming and self-care, and then come down to breakfast, put your (already packed) lunch into your (already packed) bag, and go. Be sure to leave some margin time, though, because things happen…Maybe leave time for a chapter of your read-aloud book if all kids are ready on time? Some incentive never hurts! I’m working on getting a handle on this myself, so expect more on this here soon, bli neder (Update: Here’s a post!).

Next, I find it helpful to set up a way to make making lunches easier. Even though my kids aren’t taking lunches (we eat together at home – we’re homeschoolers!), my husband is, and sometimes we’re on the go and eat lunch away from home. I find it helpful to have things bagged and ready to go, whether for lunch or snacks! Here is how we do it:

  • Prepare produce when you get it home. This takes some time, I know, but when you can find sandwich baggies of carrot sticks or cucumbers, prewashed apples, and salad fixings all ready to go, it makes packing a lunch – or snacking – easier. We set aside a whole produce drawer at the bottom of our fridge for these, but I know other people who use a plastic bin. It’s easy grab and go!
  • Buy bigger bags / make bigger batches of snacks and portion them out. Again with the pre-bagging, I know. But getting a bunch of baggies out once and preparing for your family’s meals is easier that letting whoever grab whatever in a rush. I have a whole drawer of snacks that the kids can get whenever they are hundry, but you could have a bin just for lunches–modify however it works for you. Ours has banana chips, cashews, whole grain crackers, homemade granola, raisins, and dried cherries now. If you buy single servings of applesauce or fruit cups, this is the place. As I’m putting away dinner, I might make a lunch main dish (or several) in a resealable container, and then set those out for our lunch-toters. I also freeze some of these and pull them out as tv dinners!
  • Have a shelf or another specific place for lunch food:  In our refrigerator, we have an area where there are always salads/mezze foods (veggie relishes and appetizers) from Shabbat. We also have a place for easy lunch makings: hardboiled eggs, deli slices (OK, not in our current country, but when we had easy access!), string cheese, etc. In the cupboard, common sandwich fixings are all grouped together. This is to make it easy to get to – so lunch making gets done!
  • Have a lunch-making station: For us, this is a drawer with all of our plastic bags and lunch containers and the counter above it. The lunch bags get rinsed out when they come home and are in the drying rack, and everything else needed is in easy reach.
  • Have a back-up plan. Sometimes, lunch (or dinner) needs to happen on the fly. This is especially difficult as Jews, because we can’t just go order out. So we have a stash of easy meals on hand, things like instant soup / ramen,  a frozen meal, a can of tuna, r even something like a La Bruite meal. (We keep some La Briute meals in our Shabbat-on-the-go kit, or buy them for travel, but they can add up quickly!)

Last, try to consider waste. If the baggies aren’t dirty, bring them back and refill them. You could get some reusable baggies, too! All the individual packaging means more waste, so reduce it where you can!

How are you getting ready for school?

About Amital

A die-hard listmaker and observant Jewish mommy of 5, managing the challenges of life bit by bit with the help of a Shalom Bayit book and lists. And chocolate, of course. Lots of chocolate.

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