I wake up every morning with an eternal question on what to pack for my daughter’s lunch. She leaves for school at 7 am and returns back post her school and extracurricular activities by 5 pm. The fact that she’s out of my eyesight for nearly ten hours a day, five days a week; the only way I can ensure her diet and nutrition is when I pack her bags myself.
Undoubtedly, it is not easy to wake up at 5 am every morning to plan three meal boxes and one breakfast every morning but a mother’s love, after all, has no bounds. This is my typical morning routine.
I pack three lunch boxes and these are my usual weekly meal preps:
Fruit box: My girl loves fruits and I make it a point to include seasonal fruits in this box. From strawberries in winter to Mango in summer, Watermelon and peach; this snack box is for eating on the bus ride to and fro or after her sports class. If you are packing fruits like Apple and Pears for the fruit box, don’t forget to wash, peel and soak the fruit in lightly salted water for a few minutes. This ensures the fruit doesn’t get brown for a few hours.
Meal box: This is the main box that is hopefully giving her the nutrients to sustain her busy, active day. I usually avoid packing chapati/sabji and prefer giving innovative snacks such as colorful idlis, mini burgers, cheese quesadillas, spaghetti aglio with garlic bread, hummus, assorted veggies and toasted pita and at times, a simple cucumber, chutney and cheese sandwich, mayo/cheese spread and tomato sandwich. Since the food is going to be cold when she eats it, I try to make her meals as oil and mess free as possible.
Fun box: This is a small bento box with 2-3 compartments which she can eat whenever she wants a ‘perk me up’ in her day. One has assorted dry fruits i.e. almonds, cashews and some raisins or sunflower seeds. The other compartment has cookies and the third compartment has a junk snack i.e. pretzels, mini waffles, nutella crepe or kurkure/peppy/lays/pringles.
She’s used to eating a heavy breakfast before leaving for school every morning and we usually rotate between stir fried noddles (yes, really!), pancakes with maple syrup, sunny side up, left over pav bhaji (again, yes, she can eat this at 6 am and 10 pm), dosa/idli sambar and dal puris (made with leftover green/yellow/black dal).
The preparations for her lunch boxes take close to 45 minutes every morning but that is only if I keep stuff ready and prepared the previous night. For instance, if I am to make burgers the next morning, I boil the veggies and keep the burger patty ready to cook the next morning. The idli batter is ready with chopped veggies and cheese. The veggies needed are always washed, cut and stored in tupperware in the refrigerator. The chutney ingredients are chopped and kept in the grinder container, in the refrigerator so that I simply grind it and use it fresh the next morning. These small preps are tedious and exhausting but are a prerequisite to keep the weekday mornings stress-free.
For additional time saving, you can also pack the fruit box and keep it in the refrigerator, the previous night and the fun box can be packed in advance too.
My girl doesn’t like milkshakes and juices, else, one of these boxes can be replaced for a glass of juice or fruit smoothies.
I hope these small tips help and make snack and lunch box time an easier process for you, as well!