1. Get your kids involved! Sit with them and ask them what they would like to eat for lunch. It's okay if they don't give you a full blown menu, but gathering their input helps get you on the right track.
2. Plan a weekly menu. If you're stuck and need some ideas, go online!
Here are my favorite sites:
Allergic Living recipes: The creamy pasta salad is delicious! I pack this pasta once a week. You can make this ahead of time. I think it's so tasty the next day as the flavors had time to immerse and absorb with the pasta.
Momables: This site really gives you everything you need from planning, recipes, and even meal delivery! You gather great ideas just by browsing through this site. Try their sample weekly meal plan for free too. Laura Fuentes provides everything in an organized way making even grocery shopping easy with her ready made grocery list. My daughter loves the Spinach mini quiches!
Petite Allergy Treats: If you have a sweet tooth, this site has plenty of ideas! This site caters to multiple food allergies. One of my favorite is the Pancake Sandwich. How creative! http://petiteallergytreats.com/pancake-sandwiches-panwiches/
3. Consider your dinner meals for the week. I love transforming leftover dinners into a fun lunch for the kids. It saves me money and time too. My favorite is taking leftover baked chicken and turning it into the creamy chicken pasta salad seen above in the Allergic Living recipe.
4. Once you've gathered your ideas, create a grocery list and go shopping!
5. Try to prepare the meals ahead of time and freeze what you can.
6. Sort your snacks ahead of time. I usually have all my fruits and vegetables cleaned, cut, and packed for easy grabs. I also have their favorite cookies sorted in snack size bags. Occasionally, I am guilty of giving them their favorite chips too:)
7. Before I go to bed, I have lunch bags laid out on my kitchen counter with a note next to it listing the menu for the day. I don't know about you, but I'm definitely not a morning person. My brain is still foggy early in the morning, so lunch notes help me tremendously! All I need to do is read and react. My kids have different allergies, so it also helps to stay organized and make sure I don't make a mistake packing their lunches. That wouldn't be good:(
8. Add a special note! My kids still love those sweet notes from me. For the first week, it's definitely a must have!
9. To create an added awareness to their allergies, I also attach my fun Alli-Caps to their lunch bags. They love it, and their friends love it too! It usually strikes an interesting conversation because kids are naturally curious. So if you want your kids to start advocating for themselves, this is a fun way to do so!
10. Remember which lunches were a hit and which lunches were a bust. Replace the bust with a new recipe. Before you know it, you'll have an inventory of savory and fun lunches to last a good month. All you'll need to do is alternate each week!
Wishing you all a safe and enjoyable school year!