If you’ve followed me for any time here on this blog or Instagram, it’s likely not a surprise that I have a regular menu for my kids’ lunches. I like routine, but more than anything I like not using brain power to make decisions around things like kids’ lunches. I much prefer to save this sort of brain power for books, business decisions, and planning fun activities with family and friends.
In addition to brain power, I also save time (and possibly money), because I buy the same foods for their lunches every week. Having a menu makes planning, shopping, AND prepping the lunches easier than if I was trying to come up with something new every day.
Find tons of lunch examples in the “bento love” highlight on Instagram.
The Weekly Lunch Menu
Each day, the kids’ lunches have the “main course” listed below along with a fruit, veggie (and often a dipping sauce), and then a snack food of some sort (puffs, muffins, pretzels, gummies, etc).
MONDAY: Sunbutter Sandwich
TUESDAY: Turkey Deli Meat
WEDNESDAY: Hot Dog w/ Ketchup
THURSDAY: Pasta or beans
FRIDAY: Hard boiled egg
Shop + Prep
As I mentioned, one of the benefits of this routine is that shopping and prepping are so easy. I have a standard shopping list for lunches (it’s actually for lunches + breakfasts + snacks, so that’s why it might seem like a lot for just lunches) that I look at each week while placing our grocery order. I know I will always need to buy fresh produce, but the other items I try to buy in bulk so I’m not buying them weekly.
Fruit - four types (over time I’ve figured out how many apples, for example, we need for that to be one type of fruit for the week)
Veggies - two types
Three dozen eggs
Loaf of bread - either Canyon Bakehouse from the store of Coco Bakes if I buy in bulk and freeze
Turkey Deli Meat - usually the Plainville brand from Costco because it freezes well; if we are out I grab Applegate from the store
Hot dogs - my kids will no longer eat the grass-fed hot dogs at Costco, so I usually buy Applegate from the store weekly
Pasta/beans - bought in bulk usually from Thrive Market or Costco
Sunbutter - our preschool is nut free so we are always stocked up on Sunbutter for sandwiches and to swap for peanut butter in other foods that might make it to school
A variety of snacks - one of my kids is GF and DF (like me, poor kid) so we buy a lot of our snacks on Thrive Market. We also find a decent amount of foods that work for us at Costco, and the remainder of our snacks I prep.
Most of these groceries make it in the lunch box as is, but I have a few things that I try to prep on the weekend for lunches (and snacks/breakfast) during the week.
Gummies - my kids love these and they are so much healthier than many of the fruit snacks or Jello available. Bonus is that they only take 5 minutes to make plus half hour or so to solidify in the fridge. I don’t have a recipe on the blog, but I like to my How To saved story on Instagram where you can find them.
Dips for veggies - I find my kids eat 83% more veggies when they have a dip to go with it. Right now we are big on dairy free dump ranch (I need to get this up!). They also love hummus (there’s currently an allergy at school so we can’t pack this in lunches), guacamole, and Sunshine Sauce.
Mini muffins - I try to always make a batch on the weekend that’s used for snacks, breakfasts and lunches. I store them in the freezer so we have a few varieties going at any time.
That’s pretty much it! It’s super simple for me but because we are switching up fruits, veggies, and snack foods, the kids don’t find it repetitive. We also recently streamed to all YumBox containers for lunches - we have two original and two panino. Four seems to be the right amount for us for two kids.