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Evolved Mommy | November 19, 2019

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How to manage school lunch menus: A quick & easy back-to-school lunch system - Evolved Mommy

Guest post by Holly Shacklett, professional organizer and favorite Evolved Mommy contributor.

I wish I’d had my act together more when my first child started Kindergarten.  I did such a good job setting up and creating an affordable and easy-does-it launch pad last year that I’m not changing a thing with it this year.

There were a lot of new things to learn for me.  So much so my mind was jumbled and it wasn’t until the second week of school this year that I created a system regarding lunch.

In Kindergarten the kids didn’t get a hot lunch choice. You either brought your lunch or you ate the one choice the school offered you.  Every week I’d look at the menu ahead and guess which days she’d want a hot lunch and then I’d ask her the morning of.  What a terrible plan!

In my district they rotate the menu so that it’s exactly the same every month in the same order.  And it is color coordinated.  Talk about an organized system.  And in first grade you get to choose your hot lunch.


Color-coded back-to-school lunch calendar

The school calendar from Holly’s school district

How to plan school lunches

On the second week of school I sat my 6 year old down with the menu.  On each day of the calendar I drew a black horizontal line between the two choices.  Then we went through every day on the menu and I asked her to choose to either bring a lunch, choose hot lunch A or choose hot lunch B.  And if she chose a hot lunch she highlighted which one sounded best.  I felt so very smart because now those choices were made for the entire school year.

How to organize school lunch calendar

Holly’s lunch calendar

This has been working out so well I wanted you evolved mommy readers in on it.  Maybe you already do this, you’re so smart!  Maybe you haven’t had time to even consider this easy plan, I’m so happy to share it with you.

More school lunch ideas for kids

The next step beyond this is to do some planning for the days your student chooses to bring a lunch.  Here are some ideas:

  • Use the same calendar and write the lunch you (he) will make on the days your child chose to not eat a hot lunch.
  • Create an idea list of meals you (she) can choose from based on what you have on hand.  Create a list for “main”, one for “sides”, one for “dessert”, etc.
  • Bring home one lunchable from the store every week so that one packed lunch is a cinch.  If your kid wants pinterest worthy food tell them they can do it but they can’t be late to bed or to school.
  • Create a separate calendar which consists of four rows with five boxes in each.  Fill this in to correspond with the school’s menu.  In each box plan and write out each item that will be packed in the lunch box for each day.  Fill out the whole month if you can.
  • Have a lunch making station to simplify the process.

Keep your menu posted in the kitchen.  Ours in on a wall in the pantry where my daughter’s lunch box hangs and where I start my day with a cup of joe.

This system can work for you even if your district creates a different menu every month.  Just highlight the days a hot lunch will be eaten and plan for lunch box days.

It’s not techy like so many evolved mommies.  But it’s simple and it works.  And you can just stand there in your frazzled state with your cup of joe and know you have a plan!

Simply Organized NWA home and office organizing service, professional relocation service fayetteville, arHolly is the c0-founder of Simply Organized NWA, a professional organizing service in Northwest Arkansas. She gets very excited about containers, but also helps clients understand that not everything needs to be contained, or even kept for that matter.