I've been packing lunches for my girls for 9 years now, starting from when Big Sis was a mere tot in preschool. Wow, that's a lot of lunch making! Back then, it was pretty easy. Life was just slower paced and we really didn't have places we NEEDED to be. The girls themselves might have required more work, but we had a pretty easy-going life. Fast forward 9 years and though the girls are more self-sufficient now, life has become a mad dash. Between their school, 6 soccer practices, piano lessons, and basketball and my own volleyball league, we are constantly on the move Monday through Friday.
With back-to-school looming for some and already in full swing for others like me, it's so important to stay organized and simplify life where life can be simplified. One of the major areas in my life that requires planning and forethought is in the food department. Between breakfasts, school lunches and figuring out dinners in the midst of relentless activities, my refusing to hit the drive thrus and take out as much as possible, my kitchen and fridge need to be organized. Whether you're a working mom or a stay-at-home one like me, life is just that much easier if you can get organized.
Now's the perfect time to starting thinking about back-to-school routines and stocking up on those items that make life a little easier and run a little smoother. While I love to cook and make things from scratch as often as possible, sometimes you just need the quick and easy. Luckily there are great affordable options that my kids love like State Fair® Corn Dogs, Tyson® Chicken Nuggets and Jimmy Dean® Pancakes & Sausage.
On top of the hustle and bustle of activities, I also have a very skinny picky eater, and we are determined to put some meat on her bones and get her to grow this year. Protein is our tool of choice. Not only do these three items fit into that category (all three are high in protein), my choosier one LOVES every one of them, as does the less picky one. Yay! :)
I found these at my Neighborhood Market Walmart in the frozen foods section. State Fair® Corn Dogs are found in the Snacks & Appetizers section, Tyson® Chicken Nuggets in the Dinner Foods section and the Jimmy Dean® Pancakes & Sausage in the Breakfast section. While you're there, be sure to stop by the refrigerator section for a wide selection of yogurts, cheese and other cold snacks. And don't forget to make a pass through the produce section as well, to pick up favorite veggies and fruits to complete your meals!
Making these meals is easy peasy when you get organized. Let me show you how I do it:
1. To get started, try to pick a set day of the week where you can set aside some time to perform the mundane, dreaded tasks of food cleaning and prep. Sunday would be ideal since you can start using the items first thing Monday, but if you're like me and just can't (i.e. won't) do it, Monday works great too. :) As painful as it may be, a little time up front will save you a ton later on.
2. Pre-wash your veggies and fruit. Don't pre-wash berries, though, as they won't last nearly as long. Use a scrub brush or soak and rinse them, depending on the produce. Clean with a 3 parts water to 1 part vinegar solution, a veggie cleaner found in stores or just plain water. While you're at it, wash their packaging in warm and soapy water, to reuse for storage and save yourself and our Earth from another baggie. :) Make sure the veggies, fruit and bags are thoroughly dry before storing in the fridge. This will help them keep longer.
3. Cut the cheese. ;) Cut the meat. Cut the whatever you see fit :) Take, for example, cheese. I usually buy the sliced kind for sandwiches and cut them in quarters, the perfect size for crackers. Return them to the baggie they came in.
4. Pre-fill little containers with snacks and dips your kids eat frequently, like hummus or applesauce. It's amazing how mind numbing it gets to fill these on a daily basis. These little gems are Little Dippers by EasyLunchboxes.
6. Find a nice, convenient spot in your fridge. That slightly-too-short shelf that just won't fit that much stuff was the perfect one for me.
And tada! You're organized and ready for a week of quick and easy breakfast/lunch/dinner making! This also makes it fun and easy for kids to pack their own lunches as well!
Now let's see 'em in action. Wednesday is our crazy busy day. Big Sis comes home from school, then we go pick up Little Sis from school and take her straight to piano lessons. After that, we beeline it to her indoor soccer practice, followed up by Big Sis' basketball or soccer practice (we're double booked right now). That means quick and easy meals are a must, but healthy and high in protein are just as important. The girls were excited to see my sign that corn dogs were on the menu today! A special treat. With my lunch box gear ready to go, I quickly (and easily) got to work.
Here's that dinner with State Fair® Corn Dogs:
Another fun dinner is this chicken taco made with chopped up Tyson® Chicken Nuggets. It's nice for evenings when you can eat at home but are still pressed for time.
Last but not least is breakfast with Jimmy Dean® Pancakes & Sausage. These are a great Monday morning breakfast when it's just too hard to get up earlier to cook up something more involved. ;) With Big Sis going to school an hour earlier than Little Sis now, these are a huge help AND she LOVES them! The perfect way to put more meat on her bones. ;)
Which products will YOU be stocking up on? For more ideas to get back to your back to school routine, click here and sign in.