For many, this school year was supposed to be our return to whatever this new normal is. With many students now back in the classroom for the first time in over a year, parents and teachers alike have been on edge ensuring that we keep children, and everyone else safe.
Parents like myself who work from home, are re-adjusting to leaving the house in the morning for drop-off and facing the rush-hour traffic as we head back home to work. While we knew it would take some time to get used to what used to be our usual routine, many of us didn’t account for some of the other challenges that have presented themselves since school started.
While there are certainly more pressing issues happening around this return to school, one thing many of us parents didn’t account for was the apparent shortage of popular lunch items like Lunchables, boxed and pouch juices, and multi-pack snacks. Grocery aisles are practically bare at most stores in certain sections, with items flying off of the shelves faster than they can be restocked.
Last week, I placed four Instacart orders in one day, in hopes of snagging Lunchables. To no avail, I had to go back to my original lunch routine, which included me making sandwiches daily and assembling a lunch that my now 5th grader will approve of.
With Lunchables, it was pretty easy to place the contents of the kit in the lunch box, with a few substitutions due to my daughter not always liking the snack the accompanied her favorite sub sandwich or deep dish pizza option. On Friday, my daughter made a comment that she was happy that Lunchables were hard to find so I could resume packing her lunches again with sandwiches and her other favorites. So, I figured I may as well share a few quick tips of what I’ve found easier, and most importantly, in-stock amid shortages and shipping delays.
- Main Course: Sandwich-making is quite simple, but the same sandwich each day may get a little boring. You can make them more fun by cutting them out in cute shapes, or by swapping sandwiches out for small salads, or other quick and easy meals that can be eaten at room temperature like chicken salad with crackers.
- Healthy-Snacking: Fruits like grapes, or sliced apples and strawberries are quick and healthy snack options for lunchtime. For veggie lovers, you can also include carrots or celery with a sealed cup or packed with ranch dressing or dip.
- Family Size to the Rescue: If multi-pack snacks are scarce in your area, consider purchasing family sizes packages of your child’s favorite snacks and packing a small portion in a ziplock bag each day.
- Water Anyone?: Having a hard time finding your favorite juice drinks? Water to the rescue. Look for mini water bottles and pair them with your child’s favorite flavor of drink mix for a splash of flavor.
In addition to the suggestions above, you can also personalize lunch by placing a special note, or words of affirmation in their lunch bag or box to give them something exciting to look forward to. This Lunchable “shortage” has actually made lunch-packing time a little less routine-like for me and has me thinking of new items to include.
Hopefully these suggestions will spark your creativity as well!