3 Make Ahead Freezable School Lunches

make ahead school lunches{this post may contain affiliate links for your convenience}

 

It’s January. You’ve officially started the second semester of school with the kiddos and you are staring at their lunch box at 10pm wondering WHAT THE HECK are you going to put in there?

You started out the school year strong with those pinterest worthy lunches and planning a different lunch for each day only to burn out like on day 20 (or 4) and you had such great expectations and were planning to ROCK THIS school years lunches.

And you’ve just come out from the holidays and you are flat out D O N E with food things and cooking things and baking things and are contemplating just stocking up on lunchables, despite your vow to provide more whole and less processed foods in your kiddos lunches.

I get it. I think we have all been there. At least, I know I have been.

Heres a little secret I learned….you ready? You don’t actually have to have a new and different lunch every.single.day for school!

It’s true.

You might even already know that. It took me a while to stop trying so dang hard on the stupid lunches. I never cut out cute shapes or anything, but I did learn eventually that it’s absolutely OKAY to send similar, or even the SAME things, several days in a row. I’ve actually come to be a big believer that lunch time at school is not the time to insist our kiddos try all the new things. I typically save that for dinner time, at home. They’ve really got enough going on throughout the day, keeping lunch time familiar can be a good thing. For everyone.

When I was in school, I honestly only wanted a pb&j, a banana or an apple or orange, and my kool-aide and I was a happy camper.

Now, we have (sometimes) more guidelines for school lunches and need to be mindful about our friends with food allergies. And I am perfectly OKAY with that. I often provide nut free alternatives for my kiddos to take to school. Not because I’m trying to be all that, simply because we’ve always had at least one friend or two that has peanut allergies, so we just try to make it easier for all involved.

And, ironically, my kids sometimes get these notes that say “good job” or something of the like about having a healthy lunch packed. I wasn’t really sure what to think about it the first time it came home, made me kinda go “you’re paying THAT much attention to what my kid is eating??” Granted, where we live the school district has tried to provide more healthful options for the kiddos when buying lunch at school, which I am grateful for, but my kids still like to take lunch from home more than not, simply because they’ve told me “the apples taste funny”….

Anyhoo, along the years of two older kiddos going to elementary (and now middle) school, I’ve learned to navigate what DOES and DOES NOT work for us.

And trying to make a different awesome lunch every single day simply DID NOT work. And my second oldest likes a little more consistency. And some kiddos, like my second oldest, like predictability and sometimes don’t like something new. Some like the SAME thing each day. That’s OKAY too.

What has worked for us? Attempting to simplify the lunch making and taking process as much as possible. I’ve mentioned before how I love, love LOVE the Easy Lunch Boxes and how they have helped in the process of simplifying the lunch making and storing. And today I thought I would share with you some of our favorite make ahead lunches that add to the simplifying theme of things.

Here are 3 of our make ahead staples that you can FREEZE:

{I think the whole being able to freeze it is maybe my favorite part}

1. Avocado Turkey Roll Ups

I know, at first I was thinking it didn’t sound like it could work, but then I decided to give it a try

and it absolutely does! I can grab a pack of freshly made tortillas from the store (or you could make your own…or find awesome gluten free ones), grab some turkey, maybe some cheese and an avocado.

Here is how I do it:

-mash up the avocado with some lime juice. Spread some on a tortilla (I usually use one avocado per 10 tortillas). Place some turkey and (my kids fave) smoked gouda and wrap it up! Then I slice it in half and wrap tightly in some cling wrap. I typically make up about 10 of these, wrap them up tight and then place them all in a labeled freezer safe ziplock bag.

-Typically I choose one or two days a week {example below of what our weekly lunches look like} to grab two halves and toss them in one of the Easy Lunch Boxes the night before. Then by lunch time the next day, it’s defrosted enough for lunch time! And simply 10 of these will last one to two months for a one or two day/week lunch. And it take maybe 20 minutes tops to throw 10 together. A total win and time-saver!

2. Pizza Muffins

I use this pizza dough recipe ( or you could totally use canned dough…I won’t judge you. Sometimes we gotta do what we gotta do) and then roll out the dough and place your fave toppings on. Our faves are roasted garlic and plain old pepperoni.

These freeze awesomely well and just pop into the lunch box the night before and call it D O N E. My oldest can actually heat his up at school, so that’s a nice option too. My second oldest just eats them defrosted in her lunch.

I typically make 2 dozen of these and they last for two weeks worth of lunches for BOTH big kids and also substitute for a great grab n go lunch/snack/dinner on those busy weeknight or event filled weekends.

3. Avocado or Basil Corn Cakes

This is one of those use your favorite basic pancake recipe, and then add in extra goodness. Aaannnd, if you don’t have a favorite, here’s what I use:

-2 cups of flour

-2 tsp. baking powder

-2 tsp. each of onion and garlic powder (or to taste)

-2 eggs

-1.5 cups of coconut milk (or whatever milk you like to use)

-1 avocado, mashed up (if making avocado corn cakes) OR a bunch of fresh basil, chopped up (if making basil corn cakes)

-1 cup frozen corn

Place flour, baking powder and spices in med- large bowl. Add in eggs and milk, blend together. (I use a whisk or hand mixer for these. I prefer just by hand with a whisk, personally). Next, add in mashed up avocado (or basil), then stir in corn.

Heat up your skillet and make up pancakes as you normally would!

{PS…a more detailed recipe will be up on the blog next week!}

This is a look at how I literally make up the lunches for the week:

makeaheadlunches

I typically shop for one or two fruits for the week and prep those and place them all in the lunch boxes ahead of time, along with some crackers or goldfish. I usually do this Saturday or Sunday evening. Sometimes I have also made lunches Tuesday or Wednesday through until the following Tuesday or Wednesday, eliminating that OH CRAP! moment on Sunday at 10pm. BUT, having some made-ahead frozen options already made up and in the freezer, it takes a LOT of the stress off doing it on the weekend.

makeaheadlunches

Then I choose one of the made-ahead options and toss it in the lunch boxes. I usually do this the night before…too many days ahead could result in some soggy-lunches and nobody wants that!

Here is what has worked so far this school year:

Monday: Avocado Turkey Wraps

Tuesday: sunbutter, honey and jam sammie {we call these honey-butter and jam sammies}

Wednesday: avocado corn cakes

Thursday: curried egg salad ( I make a batch of this up and it’ll keep for a few days, so sometimes it makes it’s appearance on Tuesday AND Thursday in sammie form the same week)

Friday: Pizza Rolls

Here is what a a few days worth of lunches looks like all done up:

makeaheadlunches

I try to vary the extras more than the “main course”, so to speak. Like, one week it might be Oranges and Apples, or Apples and Cherry Tomatoes…another week it might be Oranges and Grapes. Sometimes it might be sliced bell peppers and cherry tomatoes, or carrot sticks. Really, whatever works best and your kiddos like.

Since doing it this way, it has seriously helped to simplify things and I now have a lot less OH CRAP moments. And, I think, we could all use a little less of those….

How about you? Do you have any tried and true lunch ideas that have rocked your world?

 

 

 

When Validation Is What’s Really Needed

validation

A scenario for you:

A new (or newish….sometimes not so new) mama says something along the lines of “this is so freaking hard!”…..

And someone might say something in response like “we’ve all been there!”.

And you sometimes think, was that supposed to be encouraging or make me just want to crawl into a corner and cry some more?

I say this because it is often times (not always, I know) followed up with statements such as “get used to it”, “it gets worse!” or “just wait until they’re teenagers!”.

There are more varied responses, I know. Those are just a sampling of what I’ve personally heard, or have heard others say to the new parent on the playground.

I do believe the intention is there to be encouraging, but sometimes those responses or “advice” statements seem to be opposite of that.

It kind of goes along with things like “sleep when the baby sleeps” (not that that’s all that bad of advice), and the “oh, enjoy this time because it goes fast!”.

And it so very much does. They are not lying. Being a mama of 4, the oldest and youngest two being ten years apart, I get it. You just blink and they are heading toward tweendom and buckle up! Because, holy moly!

I know….I know these 2 year olds are going to be there faster than I’d like, but I also know how very hard the early days/weeks/months….years….can be!

Absolutely, I have been a mama that has said “we’ve all been there” to a new/new-ish mama. And I have absolutely intended it to be encouraging….kinda like “we’ve been there, we totally get it. It’s hard”. But I have found myself in this season of life being more mindful of how I respond. I will often try to follow up the “we’ve all been there” with, “you are not alone, us mamas that have been there before get it, we’re here when you need to chat”.

Because, let’s face it, it’s freaking hard, this parenting thing!

I know I’ve been guilty in a quick response of saying “we’ve all been there”, only to wonder later, when someone has said it to me, if the person I’ve said it to before took it as encouragement, or just a “yeah, we’ve all been there…join the club!”.

Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve not found that entirely encouraging when dealing with tiny humans and feeling like I’m losing my mind. I have found myself wondering “I am supposed to just suck it up and deal with it? Am I doing something wrong? Why do I feel more alone than not?” And yes, there are times we definitely need to suck it up and deal with it. Life happens and you gotta roll with it.

What I have found helpful? When a fellow mama or, more seasoned than myself mama, has said “we get it. It’s hard….we’re here for you, you are not alone”.

Followed up with statements such as “and you are doing a fantastic job!”, doesn’t hurt either.

Sometimes? Sometimes a mama just needs validation that it’s HARD. And it’s okay to hide in the bathroom or a closet, or the pantry or laundry, with some chocolate and cry.

We have ALL been there at some point! And it helps soothe the rough day, even if just a little.

I think it’s easy to compare….to the mama that has 3, and you wonder why you’re having such a hard time with only one!

{by the way, I totally hate the word “only” when used like that….}

Or the mama with 2, three years apart, looking at the mom of twins thinking “and I thought I was having a hard day….I only have two, not the same age!”.

Or the mama with 3 that can’t figure out how that mom over there with 5 is managing so much better! She should be able to handle “only 3″…..

And it becomes easy for those thoughts of  “they’ve all been there, I just need to deal” to pop into our heads, making us doubt if we’re even cut out for the parenting thing.

You are. We are.

When I had an “only” for 8 years, I often doubted myself. Then I went from being a mom of ONE to a mom of FOUR in less than two years and I REALLY began to doubt myself.

Here is what I have learned….

When it is ONE, it’s hard because it’s all you’ve known. You are caring for a tiny human and they cry and are super needy and helpless in the beginning and you are just trying to figure this whole thing out! There was a time, when my oldest was itty bitty and I was crying, he was crying…it was bad. I looked at him and said, “I’m new at this whole mama thing, and I know you are new at this being in the world thing, so let’s bare with each other and figure it out together, k?”….I gave myself grace. I didn’t know it all and I had to learn a whole lot. I am STILL learning a whole lot since I am about to embark on the teenage years with that one.

When I had TWO? I had NO IDEA what I was doing. I was a brand new mama all over again, but this time through adoption to an almost 5 year old, that I’d missed the first 4 plus years of life with….talk about figuring things out! I’m still learning on that, too.

Then, SURPRISE! Add some twin babies to the mix and It was, again, like starting all over! I’d not had twins before, and they were new at this whole life thing!

I’ve learned that it’s OKAY not to have all the answers. And it’s okay to give yourself GRACE in the learning process and curve balls that will, absolutely, head your way.

So, fellow parents, will you join me in being more mindful and thoughtful in our responses to the new parents on the block?

I don’t know if you do resolutions or not, but this year I want to be more mindful, THOUGHTFUL, and intentional with how I speak or respond to others.

How about you?