Easier school lunch packing: designate a pantry “lunchbox zone”

My kids just started middle- and high school and I still hate packing their school lunches.

The obvious retort is well, then, why don’t you get them to pack their own lunches?

Because I also love packing their lunches.

I should say: I love the nurturing, generous part of packing lunches. But I hate the details: the lost lunchboxes, the forgotten or unwashed containers.

But my #1 school lunch annoyance is the surprise disappearance of food I bought specifically to pack for school.

It’s usually the stuff that’s easy to grab and munch — crackers, chips, cookies. Food that’s more "treat" than "snack" that I throw into my kids’ lunchboxes for a little mid-day perk. Food that — unless I hide it — gets mowed through during the after school snack rush.

(But when I hide it, I forget about it.)

This year, as part of my back-to-school organizing, I designated a "Lunches Only" shelf in a small cabinet in my kitchen. Stuff on that shelf is off limits for any other purpose (including my work-at-home husbands’ snack attacks).

Pretty basic, but it has made a huge difference to my sanity. Now, when I’m packing the weeks’ lunches, I know everything will still be there, even on Friday.

I’m not alone in my battle to simplify school lunches because you’ve submitted many school lunch hacks over the years. But there’s always room for more!

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