Wednesday, February 10, 2016

New Plan for School Lunches

It used to be that Matt made the boys' lunches every day. And I loved him for it. But my efficiency brain kicked into high gear when I noticed how long it would take him to make the lunches each night or how stressed he would be if he waited until the morning. 

My good friend and organizational muse, Maia Heyck-Merlin, introduced me to the concept of "batch processing." The idea is so simple. Instead of making 10 separate lunches 5 separate times, you make 10 lunches all at once. You save an immense amount of time because you only have to take everything out and put it away 2 times instead of 10 times. You only have to open and close everything 2 times instead of 10 times. 

Because I am at the very edge of my capacity in general right now (my organization is still in start-up mode! I have two young children! I'm trying to exercise! I'm trying to make time to talk to my husband each day!), I've been doing batch processing in the laziest way possible. Here's what I've been sending to school:
  • Ethically sourced turkey for Henry; chickpeas for Tate (in a Tupperware container)
  • Cucumbers (in a plastic baggie)
  • Cheese stick
  • Applesauce (in a container)
  • Crackers (in a plastic baggie)
It's been super fast and convenient this way, but I can't continue contributing to the land fill (and general demise of our world) in this way. It's time to invest in container. Ten containers, in fact. 

I know. It's going to be expensive. I recently read that the average woman has 27 pairs of shoes. I have about 4 (two for the summer and two for the winter). So at least I'm saving money in the shoe department? 

I'm going to try out the LunchBots Bento Cinco. We don't send a lot of liquidy stuff, so it should be okay. I'm going to start slicing the cheese instead of sending individually wrapped cheese sticks, so that will reduce the waste some. I like that the product doesn't contain any plastic at all. 


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Sarah said...

We use a different version of the lunch bot. If you put a silicone muffin cup in the smaller section, it can help hold more liquid stuff better. Good luck!

Virginia said...

We use the Lunchbot Trio for my 2.5 year-old's lunches and completely love it -- it holds plenty of food for her, so you might be able to save a few bucks on the kiddos' containers. (The Cinco is pretty big - more adult-sized, I think.)

Also, is an awesome blog that my friend writes about feeding littles -- and she does a whole section on lunches for daycare, which often feature the Lunchbot!

Nora said...

I'm guessing you're citing this poll,8599,1169863,00.html, which is only polling affluent people, with household incomes above $150,000.

Kate said...

We use Martha Stewart for Macy's snack pack tupperware kit. I love it. The only thing to know is that when you wash them - the tupperware rubber seal comes off for cleaning. Don't accidentally throw it away. :-P (Lesson learned!)

Jordan said...

You're dropping $400 on lunch boxes? This makes me reflect on your budgeting posts quite differently.

laura said...

i use the easy lunch boxes brand for this very reason and i think it's like $10 for a pack of 4 on amazon.

laura said...

another reason why i got the cheaper kind is that the top or the bottom has gotten lost before at daycare.

Mary Blakley said...

I think pre-planning lunches is great, but I too wonder about the cost for the food storage, and how tasty food will be once it is prepped and stored for a longer period of time.

My daughter is in full day kindergarten, and we keep things fairly simple with a rotation of sandwiches, leftovers, and "munch boxes" (veggies, protein, cheese, etc). Would your boys eat leftovers in their lunches? I find throwing some leftover pasta in a thermos with some sliced veggies is an easy lunch to prep.

Sara E. Cotner said...

Great idea, Sarah!

Thanks for the lead, Virginia. Looks amazing!

Thanks for sharing, Nora. I can't even remember where I heard the statistic. That's a great point about differences in socio-economic status. The stat seems consistent with so many of the female bloggers out there these days.

Thanks for the heads-up, Kate!

Hi, Jordan. I haven't made a definitive decision yet. I'm not opposed to investing a couple hundred dollars in something that will likely last for several years and make my life more manageable. Some of my friends invest in nannies to balance everything, while others go with au pairs. If I'm able to avoid both of those expenses by figuring out time-saving strategies that help me balance everything, it's worth it to me.

Matt and I both work full-time and are more than 15 years into our careers. Our incomes are high but we still budget. Every single dollar goes toward something, including saving for a future mortgage (so we can keep our current house as a rental in 15 or so years), retirement, or our children's college tuitions. If we spend this much on lunchboxes, we will have to pull it from one of these areas. It still might be worth it to us. Every family has to look at their income and decide what their priorities are for them.

Thanks, Laura! I'll check them out!

Hi, Mary! We are currently packing everything on Sunday and storing it a whole week and it's working out well. We actually don't have a lot of leftovers. After all four of us have eaten at night, there's usually enough for one meal. Matt or I typically take it for lunch.

Unknown said...

I get the no plastic thing, but if you decide you need to go with a cheaper version, check out the systema lunch cube. Holy mackerel, those things are awesome! Same idea of minimizing waste, and they are a great size. I can pack for myself or my kiddo, and love using them. Good luck!

Cali Cole said...

while i find 400 bucks a lot to spend on a level 1 teaching salary (with a partner in the same pay grade), i get your point. you seem to work your booty you buy those 400 dollar lunch boxes if you want to! maybe you could call the company and see if you could place a bulk order or something!

Nancy said...

May I suggest instead of getting 10 of this expensive bento, investing in pairs of several types? That way if you decide a month or a year down the road that you don't love the expensive one, you have other options. I completely see your point and the logic behind it, but with that kind of cash outlay I'd be terrified that these particular lunch boxes wouldn't hold up as expected, start leaking, not keep food as fresh, etc.

Jill Kovacs said...

I'm a long time reader and don't normally comment but I seem compelled to let you know that this post made me sad. If I'm honest, it sounds like a commercial for LunchBot. Also, I know your blog will get paid for linking to their product on Amazon so the claim that spending $400 on this particular lunchbox is the 'only way to simplify' seems pretty disingenuous and insensitive to your many readers (like me:) who are teachers on lower incomes. Ah, man. I love this blog and don't want to see it spiral down into just commercials for unnecessary yuppie parenting supplies. :(

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