Packing Lunches Is The One Ritual I’ll Never Get Rid of — No Matter Where School Is

published Mar 3, 2021
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Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn

At the beginning of the pandemic, my children’s spring break turned into a two-week hiatus and then an experiment in distance learning with a timeline that kept getting extended. I found comfort in the extra time with my children and doing things together like puzzles and making pasta from scratch. Enjoying these moments anchored me in a sea of uncertainty. 

I also found relief in not having to do certain things anymore, like the morning stress shuffle. You know, the one that involves shoes and backpacks and trying not to be late to drop-off lines. And I really, really didn’t miss having to pack lunches. Whether we did it the night before or the morning of, making lunches always seemed to be a struggle. Not having to manage it felt like a small freedom. 

But not packing lunches meant we had to cook them — and clean up after them. Cooking and cleaning up after three meals for seven people every day at home got old really fast. Even if we were just heating up leftovers, we were still left with dishes to wash and a dirty kitchen. And because all the kids have lunch breaks at different times, the kitchen was abuzz in opening and closing refrigerator doors, beeping microwaves, and clattering dishes for a good two hours every school day. It was a lot of chaos and commotion and it was getting to be too much. 

So we reverted to packing lunches, even though the kids (still) aren’t going to physical school. Just like in the pre-times, we try to have them make them the night before, but even if they do it in the morning before hopping on to digital school, it saves the whole household so much stress. 

The kids are able to grab their lunch boxes out of the fridge right when they need them, and because they’re packing their own, they can leave out what they’d rather not have and include the treats they prefer. 

Using our trusty and beloved PlanetBoxes has made the process as simple, straightforward, and earth-friendly as it was before COVID. The compartments are perfectly sized for apportioning an appealing selection of kid-friendly food. And the best part is, once the kids are done eating, they stick them in the dishwasher and the kitchen is left practically untouched. 

Who knew we’d ever pack lunches when we didn’t “have” to?!

Our Favorite Lunch Ideas

Here are some items we love putting in our PlanetBox compartments: 

  • PB&Js
  • Ham and cheese sandwiches
  • Bagel bites
  • Chicken nuggets
  • Veggie sticks and hummus
  • A few M&Ms 
  • Animal cookies
  • Tortilla and Nutella roll-ups
  • Cheese sticks
  • Squares of lunch meat and cheese
  • Crackers
  • Cheese puffs
  • Veggie straws