I am excited to invite you into my kitchen with our first ever professionally made video, or “vlog” as some call it! There was just no better way to show you how we set up for school lunch around here to ensure school mornings go as smoothly as possible. So enjoy (and be sure to check out the video notes just below).
P.S. In the video you’ll also get a sneak peak of our new logo coming soon!
How I Set Up for School Lunches
Planning ahead is key!
The Night Before…
- Pack lunches: For loads of ideas check out our most recent “School Lunch Roundup” post.
- Set out lunch bags: We love our “soft-sided” lunch bags from Lands End…they fit our divided containers perfectly. We also go ahead and put in a cloth napkin, any necessary silverware, and a Lunchbox Love card (use coupon code “100Days” for 20% off).
- Fill drink bottles: Our girls get water every day.
- Get out breakfast items: We keep it simple at our house – whole grain cereal!
- Set out snack supplies: Another daily repeat…oatmeal kept warm in a thermos container, by request.
The Morning Of…
- Serve breakfast: We just add fresh milk and berries to the cereal we set out the night before.
- Make & pack snack: We add the finished oatmeal to little drawstring bags with a reusable napkin and spoon.
- Add lunches to bags (with ice packs): With 3 to 4 ice packs everything stays plenty cold until lunch time!
How do you set up for school lunches?
118 thoughts on “Video: How I Set Up for School Lunch (and Breakfast)!”
I thought the breakfast or snack would have been overnight oats.
Hi, this isn’t a question about this particular video, but I looked around and couldn’t find if there are any recommendations for cookware. It probably doesn’t do much good to eat real food if your cookware is leaching chemicals or coating into your food. Does Lisa have a recommendation? I need to buy a set of pots and pans.
I would direct you to that link after she recommends the all-clad pan. It’s extremely expensive to get that set. This professional food blogger/chef would recommend the Tramontina set and you get all 5 of the essentials with lids for only $140, not bad. 1 all-clad pan would cost $100. I’ve looked it up. These would probably serve all of your needs.
Love all your ideas Lisa!
One way to save time with oatmeal is to use a rice cooker that has a setting for porridge. I put the ingredients in the night before and set the timer for the morning and it’s all ready to go.
I was wondering about the draw string bags also. Where did you get them?
Hello. Those are from Lisa’s own crafty hands. ~Amy
Love the draw string bags! Where are they from?
Hi Kelly. Lisa made those. :) ~Amy
I was wondering if I heard wrong, but I thought that cutting the produce ahead of time causes it to lose some of its nutritional value. Is this true? Thanks.
Hi Nancy. This will answer your question: http://nutrition.about.com/od/askyournutritionist/f/cutveg.htm. ~Amy
Lovin the videos! It’s so helpful and really makes me feel less intimidated!! We are on our journey but still have a few processed food items that we’re working on deleting. This also really helps my husband visualize how easy this can be! Thank you so much!
That was awesome!! You did a great job with the video. I agree with you preparation is the key to eating well and to avoiding problems in the morning. What kind of dry cereals do you use? Like which brands and types.
Hi Shelby. Lisa buys 100% whole shredded wheat, 100% puffed wheat, but most frequently uses her won granola: https://www.100daysofrealfood.com/2010/04/04/recipe-granola-bars-cereal/. ~Amy
Your video was well done and the ideas were great. My concern is the PLASTIC lunch containers. They can leach toxins over time and some can’t be recycled. Even if they are recyclable, they still create demand for petroleum products (plastic are made from oil). Perhaps you could use glass, stainless steel, wax paper/parchment paper (can be composted), or just reusable cloth wraps for sandwiches.
You can’t take glass to school! The plastic lunch containers can be used over and over and over again. I used the same ones all year last year.
Love the lunch help! I too, stuff the lunch bags with as much as can be preloaded the night before.
I have a “stupid” question: how do you do cloth napkins? Use once and wash for lunch ones? Use at breakfast and leave on table through dinner then wash? Where do you get nice colorful cloth napkins that absorb? (and don’t cost a fortune) We fly through paper napkins and I would like to reduce paper usage.
Hi there. Here is a link to some of the napkins Lisa buys: https://www.100daysofrealfood.com/2013/04/22/earth-day-tips-less-wasteful/. Another thought: I use terry dish cloths which really absorb well and are very inexpensive. I have two boys who are not interested in flowery napkins even though I think they are lovely. We typically go with stripes and plaids. And, we typically have the same napkin on the table for breakfast and dinner but a different one in the lunch box. :) ~Amy
Great job! Very information and quick video. I don’t know why most explanatory videos are so long and made to be overly complicated, but yours was straight to the point. Also, have never thought about using oatmeal as a snack. Easy, simple, SMART tips! Thanks!
Random question, but I notice you offer two homemade cereals. What are they? I’ve used your recipe for homemade granola cereal and it’s now a favorite in my house.
Hi there Lori. Lisa makes her own granola which they eat regularly. She also sometimes buys single ingredient cereal like puffed or shredded wheat. Here’s a post with more information: https://www.100daysofrealfood.com/2012/05/14/a-week-with-the-leakes-breakfast/. ~Amy
Great video. I have found that planning ahead does make such a huge difference, and it is helpful to see what that actually looks like…many of us out there desire to do it, but do not know where to begin. I look forward to more videos that will “hold my hand” as I journey towards a healthier menu and lifestyle for my family.
I would also love to know what cereal you feed them. My kids aren’t into homemade granola, and sometimes we (I) need a break from hot breakfasts. Thanks again for all the yummy food ideas!
Hello Sharee. Lisa does makes her own granola which they depend on often for breakfast. She also sometimes buys single ingredient cereal like puffed or shredded wheat. Here’s a post with more information: https://www.100daysofrealfood.com/2012/05/14/a-week-with-the-leakes-breakfast/. ~Amy
I love it! Can you let me know what cereal your children eat for breakfast? I would love to feed them easy cereal in the AM….our hot breakfast prep takes a lot of time and effort and energy.
Hi LP. Lisa makes her own granola which they depend on often for breakfast. The girls also usually have hot oatmeal at school as their morning snack. She also sometimes buys single ingredient cereal like puffed or shredded wheat. Hereâ€™s a post with more information: https://www.100daysofrealfood.com/2012/05/14/a-week-with-the-leakes-breakfast/. ~Amy
You could also make “overnight oats” which is kind of like a parfait. It’s one of my favorite breakfasts when I have to rush to work in the morning! Just grab it and go.
There are lots of recipes out there for overnight oats, but here’s the way I’ve made it in the past: http://www.mamacado.com/2012/12/easy-breakfast-vegan-overnight-oats.html
I always mean to do more the night before, but if I can’t (fall down exhausted), I make twice the lunches in the morning to use on that day and one for the next. Otherwise I do something crazy like make two strombolis on the weekend and freeze into individual packets to send in. I completely agree with setting out the packs ahead of time. And I don’t know why, but getting the drinks together the night before seems to save twice as much time as doing it the morning of (strange morning math…). YAY!! Love the vlog!! :D
The video looks great, beautifully shot and lit, very professional. As usual your piece was informative, and I’m so looking forward to your cook book. I have to know, though, what gas cook top brand and size is that? It’s incredible!
This is a great video Lisa! You look amazing on camera. I hope you’ll do more videos. And I love how simple you make the lunch and breakfast planning and prepping look. Thank you for sharing. Hugs!
Hey Lisa! Thanks so much for the video! I have adopted so many of your ideas for school lunches, and have also learned so much about REAL food from your blogs! You are so inspiring! Thank you!!! P.s. I overheard my 4 year old boy say to my 3 Year old boy, “don’t get the red Gatorade or you will die!” Haha, I guess he overheard me weeks before teaching my husband about red 40! Of course he interpreted red dye as red makes you die! :)
I love these tips. although i’m not at the point of packing school lunches just yet, I’ll be introducing solids soon. I find some of your tips hard for a full-time working Mom (as apposed to a SAHM). Do you have any tips for those that work full-time on reducing processed foods?
Also, I notice your meals for yourself and husband aren’t very big meals. Do you find yourself hungry after dinner?
Hi Melissa. Many of us juggling busy schedules find feeding our families a challenge. I think the biggest help is planning ahead, cooking big batches, using leftovers and freezing lots of meals and pieces of meals. Last night I pulled egg souffles, black bean soup, and pumpkin muffins out of my freezer and it made the morning breakfast and lunch packing go fairly smoothly. Regarding Lisa and Jason’s appetites, I assure you they never feel deprived or skimp on meals/snacks. We are conditioned in this country to expect large portions…far more than we need. :) ~Amy
What kind of cereal do you eat? We have been avoiding it bc we haven’t found anything good but some mornings it’s so much easier!!!
I loved this video!! I hope we get to see more videos!!
I wanted to post the link for the glass jars.
Hi Lauren. You can find them here: https://www.100daysofrealfood.com/2012/08/24/my-favorite-school-lunch-supplies/. ~Amy
Where do the smaller containers that look like cupcake liners come from? What are they made of? I love that your lunches are visually appealing – I feel like that must make such a big difference in getting your kids to want to eat it!
I LOVE the video!! You make it look so easy which is a nice reminder to not over complicate the process. :D
Do you purchase flour for your recipes? I was reading about sprouting red wheat and grinding flour after drying it…choices here in Upper MI are limited, in terms of what you can find, so I am looking around for options for when I cant find what I need :D.
Hello June. Lisa most often uses King Arthur’s White Whole wheat and various other whole grain flours from Earth Fare. As you can see from this post she does sometimes buy bulk wheat and grind it herself: https://www.100daysofrealfood.com/2011/07/05/grinding-your-own-wheat-is-not-crazy-after-all-including-video/. ~Amy
Where did you find the Ziploc divided containers? I’ve looked all over Charlotte and can’t find them in any store.
Hi Kristy. If you can’t find them locally, you can find them here: https://www.100daysofrealfood.com/2012/08/24/my-favorite-school-lunch-supplies/. ~Amy
Great video. Where did you get those Huge jars you keep your cereal in? I recently bought one of these type plastic containers from Bed, Bath and Beyond http://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/store/product/OXO-Good-Grips-reg-Food-Storage-Pop-Container-10-Piece-Set/1016108510?categoryId=10602
Are canisters better to use than something like this?
Thanks for all your help,
Hi Kristen. The OXO containers work well for storage. The airtight glass jars can be found here: https://www.100daysofrealfood.com/2012/11/16/moths-invaded-our-pantrybugs-like-real-food-too/. ~Amy