This year the older boy started 3rd Class, and the baby of the family has moved into Senior Infants – or as we call them in our house, Rang 3 agus Naoínán Mhóra. The two boys go to a Gaelscoil. Now that the eldest lemon will start College shortly (fingers crossed) I can safely say that I’ve literally made hundreds of school lunches over the years and I’ve hundreds more to make.
If you’ve got a child starting school this year here are my top, tried and tested, tips for packing a lunchbox:
- Make sure your child can open and close the lunchbox and drinks bottles by themselves. This sounds like an obvious tip but you’d be surprised how important this is.
- Teach your child how to open things like juiceboxes, yoghurt tubes, bananas, and plastic packaging. This is just important for the teacher as for a small child who wants to be independent. Just think about it, if a teacher has a class of kids that can’t access their own food without help, they’ll end up spending the entire lunch break helping children to eat their food.
- Test out new foods and snacks at home at least 5 times before they go into the lunchbox. You need to make sure your child will eat them. It’s frustrating to get handed a lunchbox full of food at the end of the day.
- Food is fuel. Make sure you pack enough food to last your child through the day.
- If your child won’t eat a particular item, stop putting it into the lunchbox, there’s no point in wasting food. Give them a healthy food that they will eat. Hungry children won’t learn as well and they will end up cranky in school and afterwards.
- If your school has a nut ban, you can get around this by packing other protein-filled snacks such as dried chickpeas.
With all of that in mind, here’s my 2 cheeky monkeys talking about what they like in their lunchboxes, plus there’s some insight from my 5-year-old about what Junior Infants is like.
How to Save Money On School Lunches
- Buy in bulk. A large packet of crackers is cheaper than individually wrapped snackpacks. Per portion a loaf of bread is cheaper than a pack of rolls.
- Use your freezer to make a loaf of bread last longer; only take out what you need the night before.
- Give your child water to drink, not only is it cheaper, but it’s also best for their teeth.
- Only pack the lunchbox with what you know your child is going to eat. Uneaten food is a waste of money.
- Invest in a decent dishwasher-proof lunchbox and make sure to mark them well with a permanent marker, not forgetting the lids.
How To Save Time Making School Lunches
- Get your kids to make their lunch themselves. If they make it themselves then they’re more likely to eat it. This is the most important tip of all!!!
- Sandwiches can be frozen (seriously), so if you’re short on time during the week, make them in bulk on Sundays then defrost in the fridge the night before.
- Love your leftovers and put them in the lunchbox. Not every kid needs a sandwich or roll in their lunchbox. There’s nothing wrong with pasta from the night before.
- Write up the lunchbox menu so that your kids can see what’s going into their lunch the following day. They might be inclined to help out.