So, distracted as I am by the eighty voices inside my head, it took me a little while to get my method down for the actual morning of the lunch-packing.
Ultimately, I decided to
throw the responsibility at someone else and run away delegate.
In an ideal world, your kids would be able to help you pack their own lunches in the morning, no matter how young. As matter of fact, having a hand in the choice of foods they put in their own lunchbox often gives younger children a feeling of control. This increases their likelihood of actually eating the food you painstakingly prepared. For the record, this same trick has worked countless times with dinner. I
trick invite my youngest to help out, and he’s so proud of what he did, he polishes off a meal he would have normally spent forty minutes breaking into pieces and scattering about the plate.
Now, I know it’s not practical to always have the littler ones help out in batch lunch-making. They can insert a hotdog in a muffin like a rock star, but may hinder progress when five recipes are being made simultaneously. But lunch-packing is completely doable, if you make the system easy for them to use.
Having a crisper drawer full of veggies in the fridge never achieved that. It’s too easy for the kids to ignore produce if there’s more than a minimum of prep involved. Not to mention the fact that I myself might ignore the veggies in the drawer because it’s extra steps. Ironic, since I spent entire days making sure entrees were done to avoid precisely this type of situation.
My Solution? I Have Three:
Produce Keeper boxes
I freaking love these. They are the mainstay of my lunching success AND snacking success when the kids get home from school. They’re supposed to prolong the actual shelf life of veggies, but I can’t attest to that, because they have the actual opposite effect: they ensure rapid veggie consumption. I haven’t had the chance to test how long things would last.
Let me explain: they do control humidity, so I have no need for a crisper drawer anymore. Instead, I completely removed the drawers from the fridge, and I now simply use different-sized Oxo boxes. I dump my veggies in there (no bags) and arrange them all on one shelf.
They’re see-through (a little hard to visualize in the photo, but the white mesh basket liner allows you to see the content), and I always keep one filled with baby carrots, one with washed sugar snap peas, and one with blueberries/strawberries/grapes (my kids are older and no longer require pre-slicing). My kids are free to pick their veggie/berries in the morning and they fill their lunch containers (click here if you want to know which ones I recommend). That’s one task
thrown at someone else delegated.
As I said, these boxes have made an ENORMOUS difference in the way I use my produce and how much of it goes to waste. Since I can see everything at once (and it all looks so pretty, by the way!), it’s easy for me to see all my produce at once, and there’s no digging around in the back of my crisper to find mushy bags of rotting something-I-can’t-identify (not that I would ever have let that happen to me … yes, yes it was me, and I just vomited a little into my mouth remembering). Total game changer.
Kids can go nuts from these
Nothing fancy or special here. You may have seen this once or twice on my kitchen counter in the background of my posts. It’s one of the mainstays of my lunching/snacking plans with the kids. I always keep two or three baskets of whatever’s-in-season on the kitchen counter. The kids grab wha tthey want with breakfast. And when they get back from school, they’re allowed to have as much as they want to snack, from those baskets or the Oxo boxes. No other snacks before dinner, but they can go nuts as long as it’s the produce from one of “their” baskets.
Again, nothing special here. But it’s labeled, and my kids get a boost out of having something labeled like it’s theirs. So their “snack” basket is full of things they can grab for school and after-school activities. Like I said above, they’re only allowed produce for snacks once they get home at the end of the day. It also helps because that way, they tell me when we’re out of fruit leather. Or apple chips, or mushroom chips, or bagel chips, or whatever else I happen to have made.
Now, I have a clear advantage here, too, because my kids are old enough that they don’t have to wait for me to get home to replenish their snack basket. They can pull out the dehydrator and make their own fruit chips themselves – not because my kids are particularly amazing and brilliant (though we all know they are, of course), but because the things practically make themselves.
So there you are! My hubby or I reheat the entree, but the kids pretty much do everything else. Lunch containers always go in the same place, ice packs always go in the same place. The rugrats can actually participate in putting everything together while I
run around half-dressed desperately looking for the comb that’s tangled in the back of my hair relax and do my nails in the mornings.
The rest of my house may be a pigsty. But my fridge looks the way I wish the inside of my head did. And it’s taking care of two birds with one stone, because it actually tricks my kids into doing more for me.
Questions? Comments? Pics of your gorgeous fridge/freezer, with or without half-dressed/tangled-comb selfie?