Remote learning is only one part of the equation when it comes to at-home school. Many families rely on school cafeterias for either time-management support or financial reasons.
Adding on full time “cook” to the list of things parents have on their “plates” right now just doesn’t seem possible for many reasons. Making every breakfast, lunch, and dinner is a job in itself. It seems impossible to do when parents are working from home and juggling a million things during this time.
But keeping your child healthy and making sure they’re having a balanced source of nutrition during the day is just as crucial as filling their brains with a high-quality curriculum. And we know our kids will ask “So [insert mom/dad here]…what’s for lunch?” Everyone can benefit from some lunch hacks right now! Let’s talk about ways to get creative about at-home lunching with your child!
Create a Routine Meal Structure
Think about an easy “meal equation” routine you can get into and either put the equation as a different option each day of the week or leave the choice to your child to come up with the solution. The equation could look like “fruit + dairy + carb + protein + veggie optional = lunch”
Parents can proactively make a schedule for the week and post it so your children know what to grab. For example:
Monday = apple, cheese, pretzels, hummus, carrot sticks
Tuesday – bananas, cheese, crackers, tuna fish, celery
Wednesday = grapes, yogurt, turkey sandwich
Thursday = peach, cheese, pepperoni, tomatoes, crackers
Friday = banana smoothie, english muffin pizza
Or just have sections of your refrigerator for each part of the equation (fruit + dairy + carb + protein + veggie) and they can take one of each to fill in each variable. It also “serves” as a fun way to teach math!
Teach Kids to Make Their Own Lunches
Teaching your child to independently make their lunch is a great skill! You can use a teacher trick called “modeling” and “scaffolding” the task.
Modeling means that the teacher shows the student how to do something first before expecting them to know how to do it. It really can be summed up into “I do it first so you can watch. Then we do it together and I help you. Then you do it alone independently.” That is a great way to scaffold a task into student independence.
For example, if you want them to be able to make a PB&J independently, you can teach them that task using three different steps. First, you would do it by yourself on a weekend (for example) and talk through each step that you’re taking. Then do it together–ask your child “What do we do first when we want to make a PB&J? Do you remember what comes next?” and go through it once together as you ask guiding questions and support. Then the third time, see if they can do it without your help at all! This is a practice teachers do to help support students in their learning.
Remember that teaching students how to do more tactical things like making lunch is still learning, so being patient and repetitive is important. Also, make sure to not take over and control the task, but let them make some mistakes for the sake of learning.
Here are some fun recipes to look into that you could make with your child:
Make a Leftover Plan for Lunch
Leftovers from past meals can be huge time savers. If you’re already planning dinners for the family, try to pick meals that make easy leftovers. You can also create multiple meals based on one protein (like chicken for example…turning chicken breast dinners into chicken salad sandwiches or a grilled chicken salad). Getting smart about the work you are doing and stretching out your work is important. At-home school lunch motto: Work smarter, not harder.
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