Two years ago, our pantry was a cluttered mess of lunchboxes and lunch supplies. Each morning I fumbled through the shelves trying to piece together a lunch for my kids, resulting in more disorganized chaos and wasted time trying to hunt through items. Not to mention, all of this was happening before drinking my morning cup of coffee.
I decided to come up with an organizing system that would help me stay organized, but also encourage my two children to start helping create their own lunches. The system I created was simple. I fitted two three-drawered plastic organizers neatly under our pantry shelves to create a designated prep area for school lunches.
The Organization Solution
I placed chalkboard labels on the drawers, but mailing labels or an electronic label maker would work just as well. This definitely does not have to be pretty or fancy to be functional. Let’s take a peek inside the drawers to get a few ideas for items you could keep on hand for your kids, and they’re able to be tailored to your own family’s personal taste for snacks!
Foods to Include
- Snacks: Granola bars, low-fat puddings, natural fruit leathers, nuts, fish snack crackers, rice cakes, wheat crackers, sunflower seeds, homemade cereal mix, fruit snacks
- Fruit: Natural applesauce, yogurt-covered raisins, raisins, dried fruit, apples, bananas and oranges
- Drinks: Juice boxes and organic milk boxes
- Chips: Sweet potato chips, veggie chips, pita chips, pretzels
- Water: In one drawer I store water bottles so that the kids can grab one in the morning and before any extracurricular activities.
- Miscellaneous Items: This is where I keep cookie cutters, homemade play dough and craft supplies. Try to think of odds-and-ends items that your kids occasionally need, and to help them find it easier, use an extra drawer to hold those items.
Contain the Cool
Of course, preparation doesn’t only happen in the pantry. Another easy way to prepare lunches for the week is to pre-package any cold items you will need from the refrigerator. Kids can aid in the preparation of these items too!
I designate one crisper drawer in our refrigerator as a lunchbox drawer, and it holds homemade puddings, veggie slices, lunchmeat sandwiches and cheese sticks for the week. It’s also a great spot to tuck commonly forgotten items like spoons or napkins that you want to remember to put in their lunches.
Create an assembly line with your children. Older kids can help make the items, while smaller children can help bag them.
Change with the Seasons
The best part about this system is that it is also a great to utilize in the summer months too. Since we spend a lot of time at our community pool, we can switch the label on one of our drawers and designate it for sunscreen, sun sticks and bug spray. The other drawers can be filled with pool snacks, drinks and water bottles, just as they were before, except a beach tote replaces our lunchboxes for grab-and-go ease during hot summer months.