Well its that time of the year again, kids are back to school and if you were lucky enough to get a break over Christmas/ New Years you’re back to work too. Question: Have you ever noticed that at the start of the year we decide that THIS year will be the year of change! THIS year will be the year I am organised! THIS year will be the year that I save up for that holiday! THIS year will be the year that I change my eating habits! Or THIS year will be the year I keep all these promises! Yet by March all that enthusiasm has gone and we are left queing up for our lunch along with everyone else for most of our break while watching those few individuals who have their adorable packed lunches sitting in the park, reading a book and enjoying the midday sun. And as for our children’s lunch boxes they are filled with yet another boring sandwich that they won’t eat or we send them off to school with lunch money in the hopes that they will make healthy lunch choices (we know they won’t, but we always hope). Don’t get me started on how much money we could save if we brought lunch from home! Sometimes after spending $15 on a sandwich and a drink I think to myself “Wow I could probably make a whole weeks worth of lunches for that much!”. You see I am great at organising my Children’s lunches for school, but for some reason I seem to manage to drop the ball when it comes to looking after myself. I tell myself its a “mum thing” (whatever that means), but why is that? Do we mothers not think we are important enough to be looked after? We are so busy making sure that our loved ones are eating right and yet we spend our time, money and energy in lines waiting for meals that we could easily make at home and with the extra money that we have saved at the end of the week we could spoil our selves with a little treat perhaps or at the end of the year go on that really cool family holiday we have always dreamed of.
So I have decided that THIS year will be the year of change for me and I am going to start with something as simple as lunch. I am going to apply the same strategies I use when looking after my loved ones. Are you with me? I promise it will be one of the easiest changes you make, all it takes is a little organisation and together I know we can totally make this work! Here is what I do when I am preparing school lunches for my Children and instead of making lunches for 2 I will make them for 4 as Kate has come on board on this mission of mine to look after ourselves better, not only for ourselves but for our Children! Lets get started!
1) WRITE A MEAL PLAN:
Through out the week I make a mental note of what my Children have really enjoyed in their lunch boxes and also what hasn’t been so popular. On friday night (Or saturday morning) I sit down and write up a quick meal plan of school lunches for the week. This meal plan doesn’t have to be complex at all and there have been many weeks where my children have been more than happy to have a savoury muffin everyday for lunch so don’t let this part stress you out. Just think about what you have everyday for lunch, I bet you often have the same dish more than twice in a week. Keep this in mind and only create 2 or 3 dishes. For example either buy a BBQ chicken or roast a chicken at home and base your meal plan on that. Monday: Roast Chicken Frittata, Tuesday: Roast Chicken Salad, Wednesday: Roast Chicken Salad Wrap, Thursday: Roast Chicken Frittata and Friday: Roast Chicken Four Bean Salad.
2) GO SHOPPING:
Saturday or Sunday morning I hit the farmers markets and shops with my shopping list and meal plan in hand, which I often used as a guide. I try to eat seasonally as its not only better for you and the environment but also friendly on your wallet, so if there is something on special I buy that and change the menu a little to fit it in. One thing to keep in mind is that it’s very easy to buy too much especially if you have an empty stomach so make sure you stop and get that bacon and egg roll at the markets before shopping. For me buying too many perishables that will go off before you can enjoy them is like throwing money away so always ask yourself: “Do I really need 2 kilos of peaches?” remember you can always buy extra from your local fruit and veg shop during the week if you run out.
3) TIME TO COOK:
Late Sunday afternoon is when I prepare lunches for the week! That’s right in one afternoon I prepare all the lunches for the week ahead. Now the first couple of weeks it may take you a little longer than an afternoon, but you will soon learn to multi-task in the kitchen and will be able to ease through the process without breaking a sweat. Sometimes I try and get Damian and Anabelle to help with making the lunches, but there are many times when I find it much easier to send them into the living room to watch a movie or outside to play while I turn up my music and find my happy place in the kitchen.
4) PORTION AND STORE:
Let me start off by saying I LOVE takeaway containers! And because of this love I have plenty of them. They are cheap and if you lose one here and there your not going to stress like you would with your expensive Tupperware containers (Plus all the lids are the same size!). I portion out the weeks lunches in these containers and write the weekday they are to be used, you don’t have to write the days they are to be taken but I just find that this helps when I ask the kids to get their lunch in the morning. If I have made salads I don’t dress them but instead use a little container with a some olive oil and vinegar and place that inside the larger container with the salad which then gets dressed just before it gets eaten.
As you can see its not very difficult it just takes a little organisation, and to be completely honest with you this has been a life saver for me when it comes to Damian and Anabelle’s school lunches so I can only imagine that it’s going to work wonders for all of us! Make sure you keep an eye out for my weekly lunch box ideas and remember this isn’t rocket science, that my friends is what we send the kids off to school to learn about!