Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Simplifying the Packed Lunch Process

        Most jobs will interrupt a meal. Often times it becomes too much of a hassle to pack a lunch, and so we may give in to the temptation to stop somewhere to pick something up. Not only is buying lunch out expensive, but also isn't always the healthiest of options. The key to calmly keep a packed lunch going out the door daily for the hubby (or if you have children) is to stay organized.
          I'm a big fan of organization and working ahead. In the kitchen, that means portioning things out in advance so that when the time comes I can just grab and go to the lunchbox, stove, or where ever else. We typically do our grocery shopping each Sunday, and my goal is to have everything that gets packed for a weekday meal to be portioned out and set aside. Portioning out also ensures that each member of the home gets a share. (I'll admit to be a junk food junkie of sweets and certain snacks- ah hem, the Cheez-Its in the picture above!).
        The greatest cost savings comes in the form of skipping all the packaging. Yogurt can be purchased in the larger 32oz tubs and then divided into seperate containers. We've recently made the switch from processed meats (can we say- ew!) to purchasing a whole ham or turkey breast to cook, cut and freeze. One morning spent cooking the meat is well worth the 5-6+ weeks of sandwich meat availability (and no mystery of the "meat"). Although the baby carrots and precut celery sticks on the store shelf look nice, they cost so much more than the unprepped versions. The few minutes spent chopping will be worth the effort! (You can keep these items in water in the refrigerator to keep them crisp and fresh). I'm still working on getting to the point of having homemade sandwich bread each week. I'm having trouble with it drying out and crumbling before the end of the week. Any suggestions/recipes with or without a bread machine? Eventually, if I can master the bread making then I'd like to have a loaf for the current week and a spare in the freezer for a backup in case I don't get to baking a fresh loaf one week. I have made homemade Ritz-style and Nilla wafer-style crackers before, and if I have extra time I'd like to keep with that endeavor. However, if need or hubby's tastebuds call for something else from a box, then I'll certainly oblige. My goal is always for balance. If we can cut some packaging out through utilizing homemade then -yay!
            I typically just replace the baggies back into their original containers. However, Real Simple Magazine and IHeart Organizing has some great ideas for staying organized!
iHeart Organizing
Real Simple
                A few lunch box food ideas: apple (cut then tie back together with a rubberband to perserve freshness), orange, grape, grapefruit, bananas, peaches, honeydew/watermelon/cantaloupe in small dishes, cheese, crackers, cookies or other sweet, yogurt, celery, broccoli, carrots, pretzels, trailmix, breads etc etc. At least, these are the ones I've thrown in so far! (I also throw in a note written on one of the baggies with a sharpie. I'm sure hubby loves opening a lunchbox to find baggies of goofy drawings and "I love you's!" haha)


  1. Whitney, what great tips! I pack my little guys school lunch and it does go by so much smoother in the mornings if I've prepared before hand! Oh, and yes the money you save when you do just a little extra work your self, veggie trays, shredding cheese etc. Hope you can link this up at my Homemaking Party.

  2. Genius! I like the idea of keeping the smaller baggies in a larger, plastic container.

    Thanks for linking up the Growing Home!

  3. Love it! I need to be super organized too.

  4. I make several loaves of bread machine and thinly slice with an electric knife (so much easier to cut thin). I also cut some thicker for toasting. I freeze the bread slices and it doesn't seem to dry out when you defrost it. I also freeze pbj sandwiches for the kids, it doesn't seem to get soggy if I freeze them right away and set them out an hour or so before lunch.x Wrapping individual portions of brownies or cookies are nice for special treats.


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