Lunch for Busy Days #MealPrepMadness

Lunch has become the most difficult meal of the day for me. Jake needs to eat at 11:30 or we start running into hangry, I-need-a-nap territory. And if we have anything going on in the morning, it’s hard to be home and get it on the table before the meltdowns start. Add in a newborn who wants to be fed/changed/cuddled and I was ready to rip my hair out – not to mention the fact that I’d end up just eating whatever I could shove in my face fastest. So not ideal.

I ended up buying these containers on Amazon and they’ve become our “lunch boxes”. They don’t snap tight, but since we’re usually eating lunch at home and  don’t transport them, that’s fine for us.

LunchPrep

I fill them up with whatever leftovers we need to use up first. This week it was some broccoli salad, chopped salad and breadsticks. Then, I fill in with other stuff. Jake’s lunches (bottom row) are often deconstructed – bread with rolled-up cold cuts is a favorite. I’ve been sticking with sandwiches or salads.

It’s working out well. When they’re pre-made, it’s easy to pop one out of the refrigerator for Jake as soon as we walk in the door and it’s been keeping me from grabbing junk food to fill me up instead of making myself a meal. A win all around!

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Our Toddler Snack Bin #MealPrepMadness

One of the things I struggled with right after Julie was born was snack time for Jake. It seemed like every time I sat down to nurse her, he’d start begging for a snack. And, oh, the meltdown if I grabbed the wrong snack!

My solution was to make him his own snack bin. I filled it with pre-portioned snacks I was okay with him helping himself to.

Here’s what’s in the snack basket this week:

TodderSnacks1

The snacks in plastic bags are ones we buy in bulk. It takes me just a few minutes to grab a handful and add them to the bags – and is way easier than trying to get Jake not to eat an entire 1 lb. bag of yogurt raisins.

Here’s what everything looks like in the basket:

ToddlerSnacks2

The basket lives on the lowest shelf in our pantry. Jake can open the pantry to get to the snacks on his own, but 90% of the time he still needs help opening the packaging. This is proving to be the best of both worlds – he feels like he’s in control, but he still brings it to be before eating so I can monitor.

How do you handle kid snacks at your house?

Stocking the Freezer Pre-Baby, Take 2 #MealPrepMadness

Two years ago when Jake was born, we stocked the freezer with dinners we could throw together. It worked amazing so we knew we’d do it again – but this time, I had a different approach.

With Jake, we were only feeding ourselves – so I could wait until my husband came home from work if the baby was fussy or I wasn’t feeling it. That just doesn’t fly when you have a toddler that wants to eat at 5 pm on the dot so this time I concentrated on meals that I could pull out of the freezer and pop right into the oven or slow cooker.

It’s worked really well. I’m still finding a chance to make dinner 2-3 nights a week but it’s been so nice to have the freezer stash for nights that are a disaster!

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Here’s what we had in the freezer when Julie was born:

Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole
Oven Fajitas
Cheddar Ranch Chicken Thighs
Pineapple Teriyaki Chicken Thighs
Creamy Chicken Taquitos
Slow Cooker Cranberry Pork Roast
Slow Cooker Hawaiian Hula Pork
Chicken Potstickers
Spinach Prosciutto Lasagna
Taco Stuffed Shells

We also loaded up on bags of veggies and rice that we could throw in the microwave and a few frozen meals from Trader Joes. And, of course, Girl Scout Cookies.