How to stay calm while building a real food lunchbox

Personally, who needs New Year's Eve when you've got September 1st?

Back to school is my favourite time of the year, and I'm lucky that my son isn't big enough for me to have to pack a lunch for him yet.

Let's get this straight, we're trading back to school lunches for tantrums in the middle of a downtown sidewalk (walking somewhere that HE wanted to go, no less), so please, don't envy me.

Since I've never packed anyone a school lunch other than myself, which only included bologna and mustard sandwiches for about 10 years straight, I'm obviously not an expert in the area

I've heard how annoying packing school lunches can be for a wanna-be calm mom, and how hard it can be to balance the need for you to be happy because they're nutritious with what your kids will actually eat (instead of throwing in the garbage, trading them or brining them home untouched), so I decided to bring in the big guns.

Everyone, meet Sara.

Sara Bradford is a good friend of mine who is a fellow holistic nutritionist and mom of FOUR, so she knows a thing or two about packing tasty, kid-friendly but still nutritious school lunches.

Read on for Sara's complete system for staying calm while building a real food lunchbox, with a kick-ass free offer at the end!

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Lunchbox packing madness is about to begin. And while many parents are craving the routine a school year brings, many (or most) ALSO dread the one thing that it means. 

Making Lunches. 

We can pretend this isn’t the case, though. If you leap in with a positive attitude and a few BASIC but AWESOME packing tips, lunchbox packing can feel breezy and you can once again feel calm. Better yet, more likely to send a lunchbox that’s going to return home empty. 

So…how do you send a stress-free lunchbox every time?

Oscar - Lunch Chart

1. PLAN AHEAD

A few minutes now will save you hours of heartache later. Nothing worse than the last-minute, “Oh my god we have no food”moment. You rush to the CORNER store to get bread and a really strange looking box of granola bars - forget fruit or veggies this time. Make a Lunch Chart. If it’s not for an entire week then make it the night before - or two days before. Prep ahead a little on weekends. Make a batch of muffins to freeze. Or a bunch of stew. Bake a loaf of bread if you’re really ambitious (I’m not). Or a roast for sandwiches all week. 

2. DON’T SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF

Why did that lunchbox come back mostly full? Who cares! It could be anything. Why don’t you just ask them? Maybe they didn’t like it, or maybe they were gabbing with their buddies, or maybe they ran out of time, or maybe Mrs. So-And-So was distracting them, or…

lunch 2

3. THE MASTER LIST

This is my ultra-favourite, number one, life-saving, lunchbox tip of all time. It’ll keep you calm. It’ll keep you sane. It’ll keep life a little more stress-free. Just make a list - right now - of all the foods your child has EVER liked. Put it in categories if you’re Type A like that. Whatever it takes. And put it somewhere to reference anytime you’re looking for ideas and inspiration.

4. THE NIGHT BEFORE

I’m not suggesting you pack the night before - I never do - but have a look around and see if there is ANYTHING that could make life better the next morning. Wash their lunchpail. Check to see if the bread is moldy. Get breakfast ready. ANYTHING!

lunch 31

5. SEND MOSTLY GORGEOUS FOOD - BUT NOT ALL

There are so many good reasons to send a healthy lunch. Better learning, less distractions, stable blood sugar and so on. But sometimes treats are good - or even great. Sometimes something out of a box is necessary - for whatever reason. You just need to let it go.

6. REMOVE GUILT FROM MENTAL VOCABULARY

Stop being so hard on yourself. And stop being so hard on them for not eating what you send, also.

lunch - themed

7. KEEP IT SIMPLE.

You are not Martha Stewart. So your kids don’t care if you cook like her. Elaborate lunchbox creating isn’t that special after awhile. Save something extra fun for special occasions - like turning your kid sandwich into a bunny. The rest of the time you don’t need to do anything but inject love, nutrition and tasty food in there. 

8. LOVE NOTE.

So maybe you DO want to do something special on a daily or weekly basis. I’m personally in love with The Love Note. I can assure you, unless your child can’t read, they will be SO INCREDIBLY DELIGHTED by the simplest of notes. “I love you!”, “How did the turkey cross the road?”, “Happy Birthday". And if they don’t read yet, then even your most terrible drawing will be loved and appreciated.

But this is also for you. It’s your way of blessing what is moving on from you to them, into the great big bad world of school lunch comparing and trading, to a place where you have no control and depend on their teacher to see they don’t dump it all in the garbage.

lunchbox e-book cover

9. GRAB MY BOOK

If you want to some seasonal, helpful, delicious recipes than you can grab this e-book for virtually nothing on my website (click here). It’s written by a mom, a nutritionist, a food-lover, a recipe-developer. And I want you to use it - a lot! 

10. 30-DAY CHALLENGE

Join my 30-Day lunchbox building challenge (click here). It’s all about sending real food, litter free lunches, with an ENTIRE COMMUNITY to share ideas with. There’s nothing like a bunch of moms keeping each other from tearing their hair out over a silly lunchbox.