Our summertime schedule is pretty much the same day in and day out. Mommy spends the morning working and the kids attempt to “get along” and do the few chores that have been laid out the night before.
Simple things like feeding the hens, or hanging out the laundry.
And about 30 minutes before mom is ready to turn off the laptop, the kids make a picnic lunch and we head out on an adventure.
Now, most of the time, our adventure is the same each day as we head to one of the local lakes, but sometimes we end up hiking in the trees, or out on the sailboat, catching the breeze.
And as much as I tire of packing school lunches day after day during the school year, the kids are getting tired of packing picnic lunches ALL SUMMER long. (poor dears)
So, we have had to find a way to spice it up and keep even this easy chore, exciting.
Here are my kids tips for keeping a picnic lunch interesting:
1. Freshly Made Snacks
We try to keep our processed foods to a minimum, which means that the kids have learned how to bake and make snacks from early on. My eldest daughter is pretty good at making homemade treats, and the whole family works together to collect apples and other fruits and veggies from the garden so we can dry or “can” them for nibbling later on in the day!
2. Water, Water, Water
A cold drink is always needed on an adventure, but water has always been our drink of choice. Our kids know to fill our lunch box with cold bottles of water, with an easy to close lid, so nothing spills during our adventures!
We made the switch to water, not only for health reasons but also because it doesn’t attract the WASPS, which are extreme this time of year! Our kids each have a water bottle that stays filled, and is easy to clean and grab when needed!
3. Add Variety to Your Packaging.
Fill the cooler, add the ice, close it up, complete. Day in, and day out. It DOES get boring, so by adding a few neat items we can keep the interest up (and help identify who belongs to WHICH snack)
Themed snack bags are an easy way to add a little excitement to their lunch, but be sure to remind them to re-use them! Tossing out bags like this is never the answer.
4. Variety, Variety, Variety!
Some kids like the main meal, but others (like mine) love to snack and nibble like hummingbirds! We find small amounts, but a HUGE variety is what makes for happy snackers! We do a few treats, a healthy sandwich, some home roasted pumpkin seeds from our early garden pumpkins and dried fruits!
This method works especially well when we are hiking or being active as the kids can nibble their little bag of snack and keep fueled without having to stop their play.
5. Allow Them To Explore
By having the chance to explore the kitchen cupboards and build a picnic without Mom leaning over their shoulders and grabbing the “old faithfuls” we have discovered a few new items that we can now add to their school lunches. A small piece of smoked salmon for the girls, yesterdays cold pasta for the boy (?? Who knew) and different varieties of the old traditional.
But giving our kids the chance to explore their tastes, they will do it and potentially surprise you along the way!
But the best thing about having your kids start preparing the snacks and picnic lunches during the summer, is that they will be in the routine when school starts back in! Having a little help with lunch prep can make a tiresome job easier, and if your kids are excited about what their lunch bag holds, it will make the school transition even easier!