By Cathie Ericson
PACKING LUNCHES CAN be a dreaded
morning chore, yet brown-bagging is typically healthier and cheaper than purchasing
a school lunch. We went straight to some
lunch-packing ninjas for tips to streamline
the morning lunch-packing craziness.
Pre-portion the goods
Purchasing bulk amounts can be friendlier to your wallet and the environment than
individually packaged snacks. After shopping,
take a few moments right when you get home
to parcel bulk items into smaller containers or
bags, ready to toss into each day’s lunch, says
Barbara Snow, food writer and culinary
instructor at Taste Cleveland Food Tours.
She suggests using the approach for all
kinds of edibles: pickles, olives, radishes, carrots, fruits, salad dressing, etc. Designate a
special spot in the pantry and fridge to keep
Pack once, eat twice
Because Costco member Chantay Bridges
regularly cares for two or three of her 10
godchildren each week, the Los Angeles
resident takes pre-packing to the next level,
organizing lunches for the entire week.
She portions condiments into tiny round
containers, puts the meat and cheese in a sand-wich-size container and then just adds the bread
each morning so it doesn’t become soggy.
Costco member Gaby Merediz, mom of
ID the bags
two boys, ages 4 and 6, and owner of a play
space in Wilmington, North Carolina, finds
packing for two days to be more manageable:
“It takes the same amount of time as prep-
ping one lunch, but it doesn’t take over the
kitchen counter the way packing for an entire
Ever accidentally put the wrong sandwich
in the wrong lunch box? Designating a red
water bottle, reusable containers and thermos
for Jenny and blue items for Jake can make it
easier to pop the right items in the right bags,
which can be especially important for someone
with food allergies, says Stacey Agin Murray, a
mother of two boys, ages 6 and 9, and a professional organizer in Fair Lawn, New Jersey.
back to school
The Costco Connection
Fresh produce, meats and cheeses, and salads, as well as refrigerated and frozen meals,
snacks, sandwich bags and plastic food containers are available at Costco warehouses.
THESE DAYS, a lot of members are looking for sources of protein that come from
foods other than meat. With the popularity of flexitarian, vegetarian and vegan
diets, our produce team is
happy to offer our members more plant-based
Members can now look
for Apio’s Eat Smart BBQ
Ranch Salad, featuring 16
grams of protein per serving. The salad kit contains
cauliflower, kale, red cabbage, savoy cabbage, carrots, slivered almonds, chia
Whether you’re making
chicken, stew or soup, cook
enough for the next day’s
lunches. Make a batch designed
for extras and pour some right
into the thermoses for the next
day. Or, cut a few extra veggies
for the salad and put them
directly in containers. “You’re
already in food-prep mode, so
it’s easy to repurpose items,”
says Costco member Mona
Shand, a journalist and mother
of three kids, ages 4, 6 and 8,
from Brighton, Michigan.
Get your kids packing
“If your children are old
enough to attend school, they
are old enough to help make
their lunch,” Murray says. She
recommends offering developmentally appropriate tasks, such as having
preschoolers dole out snacks in baggies and
having preteens assemble their own sandwiches and fill their own water bottles. “Don’t
let your kids grow up thinking the lunch fairy
appears overnight to fill their boxes with deliciousness,” Shand says, adding that packing
together allows the chance to discuss the
components of a healthy meal.
And that’s really the ultimate goal for parents: to have their child open a nutritious lunch
and know it was packed with love and care. C
Cathie Ericson is a freelance writer, covering
health, business and family.
pıck seeds, roasted soy nuts, freeze-dried corn and barbecue ranch dressing. The chia seeds, almonds and soy nuts offer a pro- tein boost, while the cauliflower, leafy
greens and carrots offer up a good dose of
fiber and vitamins A and C. Item #111505.
We are also featuring a Sweet Kale
Salad, which contains broccoli, Brussels
sprouts, cabbage, kale, chicory, dried cran-
berries, roasted pumpkin seeds and poppy
seed dressing. It’s chock-full of superfoods
to increase your antioxidant
intake and provides healthy
doses of vitamins A and C.
More good news? Both salads
are preservative- and gluten-free.
I especially appreciate that
these salad kits take the work
out of prepping, chopping and
slicing ingredients, and are
ready to go as fast as you can
open the bag. C
out of prepping, chopping and
open the bag.