This year my youngest started full-time preschool and I went from packing his sister's five lunches a week to packing 10 lunches a week for both of them. I realized I could save time each morning (not to mention my sanity and some dishwashing) if I packed all 10 of those lunches at once. I started slowly, by packing three days at a time and working my way up to a full week of lunches packed in about an hour on Sunday. Here's what I learned and how I pack a week's worth of school lunches on Sunday.
Ask for Help
Once you set out to pack a week's worth of lunches, you might not know where to start. Reach out to friends, family, and other parents in your network and see how they pack. You'll get a few useful snippets and plenty of funny stories too. I actually e-mailed my daughter's teacher to ask what she sees most kids actually eat from their packed lunches and she gave great advice: "Only pack what you know they can eat at home. A whole sandwich might fill a lunch box better, but is overwhelming to little eaters who'd only eat half a sandwich at home."
Our Readers' Advice for Packing Lunch: The Best Way to Pack School Lunch
Use the Right Tools
The smallest but most important component of packing a week's worth of lunches is to make sure that you have enough lunch containers. Make life even easier by selecting matching containers with divided compartments. Matching containers are easier to stack in the fridge. Divided compartments keep wet and dry foods separated and help them last longer in the fridge.
Pack While You Cook
While I'm cooking dinner on Sunday night, I lay out all 10 lunch boxes on my kitchen counter. This way I can cut up fruit or vegetables while dinner is roasting and pack dinner leftovers into a few lunches. It also means I'm only cleaning the kitchen once for both Sunday dinner and lunch packing.
Get the Details: My 5-Point Strategy for Packing a Week of School Lunches on Sunday
Working your way from packing two to three days in advance to five days will help you learn what packs well and what doesn't. Check the Thursday and Friday lunch boxes each week on Wednesday to see how they are holding up. Practice is the best teacher — before long, packing a week's worth of lunches at once will become an enjoyable habit.