I HATE making lunches. With everything I have I HATE it. I make lunches for two guys who have working beta cells, so it should be easy. Fruit, sandwich, snack, whatever. It’s never that easy for me. Mostly because I HATE buying pre made franken food snacks and I can NEVER seem to keep up enough of an arsenal of my home made stuff to shove into lunches.
If you ever have this problem, I have a million ideas. I’ve managed to execute some of them, actually. For that I’m proud. Lately I’ve been in a busy whirlwind so my stock is running a little dry and thus irritating the hell out of me. So I thought I would put a list of ideas here for you all because, well, if you’ve ever gone through lunch hell, you know what it’s like.
Keep in mind I never said “healthy.” I like cooking, and being such that MY beta cells don’t work and I can’t actually HAVE sugar, I love making things with sugar for people who can have it (even though I do realize they SHOULDN’T have it). It’s torture I know and ass backwards, but it’s true.
Tip#1: Your freezer is your friend. Most things can be frozen and tossed in lunches STILL frozen because they will thaw out by the time the lunch is eaten. This also quickly teaches them to eat breakfast so they aren’t attacking their lunch mid morning and biting into a frozen something or another.
#2: When you make desserts, whether it be brownies, cakes, muffins, cupcakes, whatever, learn to do what I’ve done: steal half of it and freeze it before anyone has the chance to get at it. Most families aren’t going to go through 18 muffins or a whole cake in a few hours, so there is ample time to let it cook and snag em up to the freezer. It’s the same concept: Wrap in foil, then in a baggy, and freeze. If you are freezing something frosted like cake or cupcakes, then put them in the freezer on a cookie sheet long enough to harden the frosting, then wrap and store.
#3: Grab some 8 oz jelly jars, half pint masons, or take away containers and make some jello or pudding. Pour into the individual cups and you’ll have frugal, easy snacks.
#4: Dried food makes great lunch snacks so if you have a dehydrator, go for it. Jerkies, dried fruits and fruit leathers can be stuffed into lunches and they have a crazy long shelf life.
#5: Don’t deny the power of the leftovers. Today’s left over pot roast, pork roast and meatloaf can be turned into a roast beef sandwich, pulled pork sandwich or meatloaf sandwich. It’s a nice switch up from PB&J and lunchmeat.
#6: On the power of leftovers: Get yourself a good microwave safe dinner container. You know, the ones with the sections. This way you can stuff leftovers in that and as long as they have access to a microwave they’ve got a hearty hot lunch.
#7: Pop a couple quarts of popcorn, not too much since it goes stale in a couple days, and season it with some interesting spices. Whether it be cinnamon and sugar or curry and garlic, you can make a whole batch and stuff them into baggies for instant snacks.
#8: The old stand by! I purposely make/order extra pizza whenever we have it so I can snag a few pieces to make up for lunches. Even if there is no microwave we all know pizza still kicks ass cold.
#9: This is cheating, but I have to say I’ve done it. Good frozen dinners. When I’m going to whole foods, I’ll snag up some good organic Annie’s frozen dinners or something of the like just in case I’ve forgotten or something came up and I’ve not had time to make a lunch. It’s a good ass saver. Also cheating, but canned soup. Texan particularly likes this one, especially in the winter. A can of soup will prove to be a good meal and a good switch from a typical sandwich lunch and also serves as an ass saver in those times where the lunch was the last thing on your mind.
#10: Make them ahead. This is probably the best tip. You CAN make several sandwiches ahead and pack several lunches, especially PB&J which keep great in the fridge for a couple days. Then it’s a grab and go thing and you don’t gotta sweat.
It’s amazing how something as simple as a lunch can turn into such a big deal when you aren’t prepared. For me anyway. I like to have as much of an arsenal as possible, but sometimes (like lately) it just doesn’t work out that way. So until they make a robot that can do all this for me, I figured I’d share in some of my tips in case you can sympathize with my lunch-hell-panic.