This post contains affiliate links. Originally published 8/18/2009.
Back to school means back-to-organizing. You might not have ever thought of it in those terms but it’s the truth.
When the kids go back to school, you organize school clothes and school supplies. You try to get a bedtime routine established. Drop-off, pick-up, car pools or bus schedules are analyzed.
There are two back to school organization projects that tend to fall by the wayside. They’ll drive you crazy …and then drive you crazy some more. Those two things? Breakfast and lunches.
We all know, it’s not a good plan to skip breakfast or lunch, nor is it a good plan to go crazy every school day, it’s time to try some organizing for those two areas.
Back to School Organization: Breakfast
- Take advantage of your kids’ love of eating out. Attach a wipe-off board to your fridge and make a menu. Following your weekly grocery shopping, create a list of choices. For example, it might read “waffles with syrup, scrambled eggs and toast, breakfast smoothie and banana.”
- Having a menu board eliminates repeating the contents of your fridge daily. and over and over to each child.
- For non-readers, you can draw a picture.
- Or, you can also start to cut out pictures from the packages and use refrigerator magnets to create a picture menu.
- Probably the biggest thing you can do to organize back to school breakfasts is to organize bedtime. Tired and cranky kids don’t want to eat. If mornings and breakfast are a struggle, gradually make that bedtime earlier until you find the right mix.
- Eating under stress isn’t going to work. Have you noticed that they only eat slower when you start saying “Hurry or you’ll miss the bus!” Try to eliminate stress as by setting up and planning for the morning night before and leaving yourself enough time in the morning. Backpacks are filled and by the door and clothing is laid out.
- Plan a breakfast menu that matches your child’s eating style. If they don’t like to eat much but love smoothies, then offer healthy smoothies. If they don’t enjoy breakfast foods that much, offer what they do like. Perhaps you could try rolled up ham and cheese, a mug of soup or heat up something from last night’s dinner that they do like.
- Turn off the morning TV. Remove the toys from the table. When children start watching cartoons, pushing cars and trucks across the table or coloring, they stop eating. This doesn’t mean breakfast can’t be fun – cheerful music, for example, is a great way to start the day. You can even have a different family member pick the music each day of the week!
Back to School Organization: Lunch
Have you ever thought about how the typical parent packs a school lunch?
First you open the fridge and grab some lunch meat. Then off to the pantry for the bread. Back to the fridge for the mustard or mayo. Over to the drawer for the sandwich bags. Then you head to the cabinet that has mini-bags of chips. Then you open the fridge again for a piece of fruit and a drink. Finally off to the cookie jar for a dessert. Wait, not done yet….off to the table for a napkin. (Did I mention that you need to multiply this times some 180 or so school days?)
No wonder it takes so long! You’ve been all over the kitchen more than once. Here’s how to organize your kitchen for school lunches. choose a cabinet to be your lunch center. Empty it out.
- Gather your lunch packing essentials: plastic bags, napkins, plastic flatware, any containers and lids you might use.
- Next shop in your pantry. Move everything that you buy for lunches into the lunch cabinet. Don’t forget the bread and even the peanut butter!
- Now tackle the fridge. To organize it for lunches, get a large plastic box (this is a good use for that one with the missing lid!). Place all your lunch packing ingredients into the plastic box. This includes snack items. Make sure that your lunch meat is in its own sealed box or bag so it doesn’t leak on anything. You can even add condiments on the side. Slide your lunch-packing box back into the fridge.
- When it is time to pack lunches, simply pull out the whole box and put it on the counter under your lunch packing cabinet. Everything is at hand without so many trips around the kitchen.
- During dinnertime clean-up or after the kids get home, set up a lunch packing routine. Wash out lunch boxes. Have each child choose their side items and put them in the box. The next morning, drop in the sandwich and the drink. Even the sandwiches can be made ahead and refrigerated.
- To pack leftover dinner, use a glass bake safe container to store and reheat to save time.
- Buy extra freezer packs to keep food cold so that you have a spare if the cold pack doesn’t make it back into the freezer.
- If your child uses a lunch box, keep a few paper lunch bags on hand for the day they might forget to bring it home.
- If you can prepare something that they like in larger size, you can divide it into several lunch size containers to be ready for the next day or two of lunch. For example, my girls loved pasta salad. Noodles, chopped veggies and some protein make for a good lunch.
Embracing Imperfect welcomes Lea Schneider, author of “Growing Up Organized: A Mom-To-Mom Guide” and “From Closet Clutter to Closet Control: Four Steps to Organizing Your Clothes.” Her organizing advice has appeared in Woman’s Day, Natural Health, Better Homes and Gardens Kids’ Rooms and College News magazines, numerous websites and newspapers.
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