Aug 30 2011

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The Once a Week Lunchbox


Once  aweek lunchbox

Once upon a time, when I had just one or two children, I was a big fan of Once a Month Cooking. Now that I have six kids, I should be a bigger fan, but to be honest, it is the daily and weekly meal planning that helps keep me sane. I love to cook dinner, so I actually did not enjoy having that task removed.

What I hate making is lunches! I don’t like feeding lunch for my kids during the summer. I’m not a huge fan of coming up with lunch ideas for the babies. I’m glad that the Rev. likes to pack leftovers for his lunch. (That is, when we have leftovers).

So, after the girls were born, I took a vacation from lunches. I had the boys all buy hot lunch from school. Our mornings were happy, the kids were happy. However, hot lunch expenses add up.

When I saw these great lunch ideas on 5Dinners in One Hour. (She also sells a lunch plan). I knew that this would be what would work for our family! I bought two restaurant quality bins to set on a shelf in our refrigerator, and I have one dishpan that I keep in the pantry for dry goods.

I sat the little boys down and asked them what kind of things they would want to pack in their lunches. Then I set out on Sunday night and made the food! (It took a while, probably two hours, but the kids prefer large carrot sticks to baby carrots, so that took time).

I made 18 ham and turkey subs. (I bought 18 Bollilo buns from the Bakery section of Sam’s Club for under $4. . .they are delicious!). I cut up an entire two pound bag of carrots. (I packed them in snack sized bags, one cut up carrot per bag.) I sliced apples and dipped in lemon juice. Half an apple per bag. I also have small portion cups with caramel sauce for dipping. (about a teaspoon). In the pantry bin there are pretzels (with peanut butter for dipping), Cheerios with raisins (one of Ethan’s favorite snacks), granola bars, and dried fruit strips.

In the morning the boys pick out what they want in their lunch and pack it themselves and top it off with a water bottle!

They are happy, I am happy, and we are saving money!


Chime in! What are some of your time saving lunch tips? What are your kids’ healthy favorites? You know I’d love to hear from you!

About the author


I'm a Lutheran pastor's wife and mom to six kids, including toddler twin girls. My life is sometimes normal, and sometimes crazy; but through it all, I know that I am blessed! Some people say that I have my hands full, I prefer to call it living life with both hands full, and I love it!

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  1. KX Rachel

    I am so in love with this idea! I too hate packing lunches and this would make me so happy. I’ll have to discuss with the kiddos and see if this would work for us.

    1. Dakotapam

      They boys have really been on board with it all! I like that the items are their choice, not mine!
      Dakotapam recently posted..The Once a Week LunchboxMy Profile

  2. Kristin K

    I will definitely have to look into this idea… it would be awesome to have it go so quickly during the mornings.

    1. Dakotapam

      It is way quicker in the morning. Like 30 second quick! And I don’t have to yell. Total win.
      Dakotapam recently posted..Charming KEYper: Review and Giveaway!My Profile

  3. Krystle

    This is great! No lunch at school for my kids for awhile, but I love this idea!
    And I too prefer carrot sticks cut up to baby carrots from a bag! They taste better!!

  4. Michelle

    I don’t have school-aged kids yet, but I LOVE this idea and will keep it in mind for when my kids do start school…or better yet, maybe I’ll try it w/ my husband! This would be WAY cheaper than eating out at lunch every day!

  5. Essie

    I made sandwiches ahead of time last year, with a loaf of bread at a time, and put them in the freezer. I take them out every morning and they’re thawed by lunch time. Makes lunch making so much easier. I’m going to look for those sub buns at Sam’s though, Zach LOVES turkey subs.

  6. Andi

    I love this…I have 6 kids also and I do the same thing. I just don’t give them a choice because they change their minds too much. You get mother of the year! 😀 That is so funny though when I read this because I hate doing lunches in the summer too!

  7. Sue

    My kids are grown, so there’s just me! And I hate to cook. Opening a can of cat food for my kitties’ dinners is about all I want to do in an evening! I like the idea of fixing lunches for myself a week ahead. I really do have to do it at least the evening before, or I don’t have time. And I DO like baby carrots!

  8. Kristin

    Great idea, Pam! I am going to have to be packing one kid’s lunch daily and it sure would be nice to be able to have two at home to grab easily for the little ones, too.

    Love the idea of the premade snack packs and cut fruit/veggies. Must get on this, pronto!

  9. lissa

    Great ideas!! I was a hot-lunch Mom most of last year, but so far this year the boys are wanting to take cold lunch. I need a system to make it faster, instead of scrambling the morning before the bus comes. 😉

    Averie is doing hot lunch at middle school.

    1. Dakotapam

      Yep, my Middle and high school kids do hot lunch. The elementary kids like cold lunch because then they can eat faster and get to recess quicker. Which is good, because they have A LOT of energy to burn off!

      William likes the subs at the middle school.

  10. The Meaning of Me

    Great ideas – I like taking lunch from home, but hate the packing part. This is great!
    The Meaning of Me recently posted..Back to School MusingsMy Profile

  11. Robin Machado

    I used the make ahead type system when my children were home. When i had little ones at home we even made their lunch and put it in their lunch box so they could be just like the big kids. We lived near the school and dd cold tell by the bells when lunch time was so she would go get her lunch out and eat her along with her snack for being good. Even put little prizes, zippy straws, stickers etc in the lunch boxes when I had time to shop someplce other than the for food.

    1. Dakotapam

      Oooh, packing a lunch for the littles, that is a great idea! Then, when they get hungry, I can pull that out! Fast and easy! Awesome!

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