It’s back-to-school, which means one thing : meal prepping is back on your agenda. We’ve put together a few tricks that will keep a healthy hold on your child’s lunch hour - while keeping your prep time at a low. 

 Lunchtime starts with choosing the right lunchbox.  How big should it be? Which material should it be made of? Once you have it in hand, there are a whole plethora of accessories that can help with meal prep and transportation. Once you’re fully equipped, let the cooking begin!

The lunchbox

First, you want your child to be comfortable bringing their lunchbox to school. This means it has to be big enough to contain all necessary snacks and meals, but not be too heavy to transport. You will have to choose between a fabric and hard-shell lunch box; both have their benefits. Fabric lunch boxes are lighter and can probably fit into a backpack, if needed. The solid model is easier to clean, and not necessarily heavier - but it offers no flexibility. Both are suitable options depending on the characteristics that are important for your lifestyle. As for the look, why not let your child choose the one he likes best?

 The accessories

  Over the past few months, we have heard a lot about single-use plastic and its impact on the environment. Fortunately, with the wide selection of reusable containers available, it is easy to make an eco-conscious choice. Having many containers in various sizes will simplify your meal prep : pick a few smaller sizes for toppings, dressings and snacks, with bigger sizes for the components of the main course. This will help you to avoid using plastic bags. Glass containers are also available in different sizes; they are easy to clean and quite sustainable, though heavier than plastic or silicone containers.

 Aside from containers, three other accessories could be considered essential : a snappable cutlery set, some ice packs, and a thermos. With this kit in hand, you can easily avoid single-use plastic cutlery while ensuring your child’s meal is the right temperature.

 Efficient nutrition

Some recipes never get old, and have the added advantage of being suitable for everyone’s diet. Shepherd’s pie, for instance, is a classic that is beloved of children, and can easily be reinvented. You can top it off with melted cheese or even swap out regular potatoes for sweet potatoes. For a vegetarian version, seasoned lentils instead of ground meat easily do the trick. Shepherd’s pie is easy to freeze, heat and pack!

Adding to your cache of ideas for pre-prepared lunches, consider casseroles and bowls, both easy and nutritious meal options. You can even put together a Mexican rice bowl that provides your growing child with every nutrient their body needs in just under 20 minutes. You can personalize it by adding the veggies and spices your child prefers : sweet potatoes, carrots, tomatoes, onions, coriander - whatever they like best. To optimize your lunch-making logistics, you can put the Mexican rice into a microwaveable container, while placing cold toppings, like sour cream, shredded cheese, and avocado into smaller containers. Rice bowls are also a great way to use what is left in your fridge!

Bowl recipes are very trendy these days, and their biggest advantage is that they can be adapted to everyone’s taste. If your children have different food preferences, these bowls can be a great solution for quickly creating meals that everyone likes. Rice or vermicelli, a variety of vegetables, the protein of your choice, homemade dressing - and that’s it!

There are as many lunch options as there are families. What matters most is finding a way to make everyone happy, including the person preparing it all!