Pick and Choose Chart for Kid’s Packed Lunches

Use these ideas to get your kid's packed lunch ideas flowing! Pick one thing from each section for each lunch packed and be sure your kids cover their food groups and enjoy their lunch at the same time. There's even space to add in your own favorites!

I may be new to the ‘kid’s packed lunch scene’, but it doesn’t mean I’m full of fresh ideas as to what I’m supposed to pack!

“Will she eat this? Is this even healthy? Wait, am I including enough food groups?” Seriously, packing a kids’ lunch shouldn’t be this dang stressful. And yet it’s one of my most dreaded chores.

My kids aren’t school age yet (my son is 1 and my daughter is 3) but three days a week, they go to a babysitter/daycare situation from 9-5, and they bring a packed lunch with them on those days.

I do this so I can actually get, you know, work done.

I send them off (despite working from home) so that I can actually work, instead of, say, losing my mind or temper or plonking them in front of the T.V. for eight straight hours. It’s a win-win for everyone, and they absolutely adore their babysitter.

I make their packed lunches the night before, while I’m cleaning up after dinner but before I put leftovers away. I find that if I try to cram in packed lunch prep in the morning, I usually forget something – plus, it’s way too stressful! We have enough morning time battles to fight, such as trying to brush my daughter’s hair without her running away from me. Ain’t nobody got time to deal with lunch making, too.

Use these ideas to get your kid's packed lunch ideas flowing! Pick one thing from each section for each lunch packed and be sure your kids cover their food groups and enjoy their lunch at the same time. There's even space to add in your own favorites!(click the image to pin straight to Pinterest!)

I’ve picked up a few tips and tricks along the way regarding these packed lunches:

  • Try to only have one food group item at a time (so, say- one piece of fruit, one vegetable, protein, etc)
  • Cheese sticks are my very best friend
  • Those reusable baby food pouches I bought too many of when my daughter was just getting into solids? Those are the perfect vehicle for applesauce.
  • My daughter tends to try more things at the babysitter’s house, so this is prime time to add in things like green beans, roasted broccoli, dried apricots, etc. She lives by the credo, “If it’s from mom, it’s gross. If it’s from the babysitter, I should try it!” So, I totally take advantage of this.
  • Leftovers are my other bff after cheese sticks. The nights before the kids go to the babysitter, I try to cook a dinner that is easily ‘leftover-able”. This saves me time and money, stretching a meal out this way!

Want some great ideas for a simple recipe you can make at home that works fabulously in kids’ packed lunches?

Check out this Facebook Live I did, where I made 15-Minute Peanut Satay Chicken Skewers and Broccoli Pesto Pasta.

Percolate Kitchen on Facebook Live: 2 Easy Back to School Packed Lunch Ideas

( Plus, I share my faaaaavorite reusable food containers, from Kids Konserve. They’re leakproof and practically indestructible! )

But wait! I went one step further, and created this handy little ‘Pick and Choose Packed Lunch’ cheat sheet for you! 🙌

Guys, this takes SO MUCH of the thought process out of planning and packing kid’s lunches. Add in a few extra options that your kid’s like; make it personal to you and your family.

Then, when it’s time to take care of the kid’s packed lunch, just pick one item from each section on the chart. Add it to the lunchbox, zip that sucker up, and toss it in the fridge or backpack.

It could.

Not.

Be.

Easier.

Well, easier if you had like, a maid to do this stuff for you. But you know what I mean.

Anyway, the download’s FREE!! No strings attached, no email to hand over. Just click and save and go about your merry little lunch-packing way.

Enjoy the school year!

Click here for the straight-up pdf version. Or, click the image below to download!

Use these ideas to get your kid's packed lunch ideas flowing! Pick one thing from each section for each lunch packed and be sure your kids cover their food groups and enjoy their lunch at the same time. There's even space to add in your own favorites!

You might also like: 

 How To Cook ‘Family Meal; Just Like a Chef 

3 Reasons Why You Need Better Kitchen Organization

The 5 Minute Meal Plan (Quick Cooking Tips #1)

This is How To Store Your Fall Produce

How do you store your favorite autumn fruits and veggies? Use this handy guide (and free printable!) to help keep your fall produce fresh, tasty, and ready to use!

How do you store your favorite autumn fruits and veggies? Use this handy guide (and free printable!) to help keep your fall produce fresh, tasty, and ready to use! How do you store your favorite autumn fruits and veggies? Use this handy guide (and free printable!) to help keep your fall produce fresh, tasty, and ready to use!

Fall’s bounty of fruits and vegetables is hard to beat, but how can you best store fall produce so it stays fresh and tasty!?

I love buying fruits and vegetables from the farmer’s market in the fall when the air is warm and the breeze is crisp. Wondering how you can store fall produce from the market, so you can enjoy all that autumn-y deliciousness while it’s still fresh? I made a handy guide to help you with just that, showcasing some of the fall’s most popular fruits and veggies!

I’m writing this in July, in the middle of a heat wave, dreaming of fall leaves, pumpkins, and steamy bowls of apple and sausage chili (swoon). Thinking cool thoughts keeps me from melting in the heat!

Another thing I love about fall produce is how it easily lends itself to roasting.

Summer produce is delicious on its own, but squash, pumpkin, brussels sprouts, eggplant… they’re all so much better with a little roast-y caramelization, don’t you think?

I love to toss roasted veggies warm on top of a salad or stirred into pasta. So simple, and then you’ve got a totally deliciously healthy meal with very little hands on time.

Most of all, I love how roasting fall veggies on chilly nights both warms up my kitchen and smells so dang good. Three cheers for double duty! (or would that be two cheers? hmm…) 

Why just these veggies and not others? Blame fall’s cornucopia of produce!

I used some of my favorite fruits and vegetables in the printable below since fall’s bountiful harvest was a litttttle more than I could possibly fit on a graphic and still make it easy to understand and follow along.

If you’re looking for a great resource for help figure out just how long all your produce will last, I recommend heading over to the site EatByDate.com. There you’ll find a huge trove of not just fruits and vegetable use-by recommendation dates, but other foods as well; dairy, meat, etc. I refer to it all the time!

Click on the image below to download the pdf, no string attached! It’s free, it’s handy, and it’s super easy to print off and hang up on your fridge or pop into a meal planning binder.

How do you store your favorite autumn fruits and veggies? Use this handy guide (and free printable!) to help keep your fall produce fresh, tasty, and ready to use!

Enjoy!


 You might also like: 

Caring For Your Cast Iron Pan

How To Cook ‘Family Meal’ Just Like a Chef 

3 Reasons Why You Need Better Kitchen Organization 

The 5 Minute Meal Plan (Quick Cooking Tips #1)

How I create my '5 minute meal plan' each week, using a super simple system! Once you have it set up, you won't believe how easy it is to use.

I’m spilling my favorite secret today with my ‘5 Minute Meal Plan’ tip!

Today I thought I would share one of my favorite time saving, quick meal planning ‘hacks’. It’s Evernote, the cloud-based note-taking app! I’m going to break down, step-by-step, how I use this super simple app and program. Then you, too, can work a super quick 5 minute meal plan! 

My Evernote system is something I use regularly when I’m making my own family’s meal plans, and I also use it when I create my customized, bespoke meal plans.

It’s nothing special or crazy or complicated, but you do need a smartphone to fully pull it off.

I use Evernote to store all my recipes.

No binders or recipe card boxes here!

If you’ve never used or heard of Evernote, I urge you to check it out! It’s a cloud-based list making app, and it is so powerful. Since it’s based in the cloud, it will take up very little room on your phone, tablet, or computer. Yet it has the capacity to store thousands, if not millions, of your recipes!

Here’s a quick rundown on how I have my Evernote set up:

(more…)

3 Reasons Why You Need Better Kitchen Organization

Better kitchen organization is crucial to making quick, easy recipes. Don't just DIY it; use this handy template for ideas on organizing your own kitchen! Better kitchen organization is crucial to making quick, easy recipes. Don't just DIY it; use this handy template for ideas on organizing your own kitchen!

It’s super important, but: Do you know why you need better kitchen organization?

I worked for years as a line cook in a variety of restaurants, and you know what tip stuck with me the most? Hint: it wasn’t splashing water next to a cheeseburger on a grill so the steam would melt the cheese (good tip, tho).

No, the best tip I took from working in professional kitchens is this: organize yo’self. 

Pro cooks call it ‘mise en place’, which is French for ‘set in place’. This is the most important part of your kitchen organization.

Put simply, it means everything in the kitchen has a ‘home’. And not only that, but God bless you if you move something out of its home and you don’t put it back; you will face the wrath of not just your boss but the rest of the kitchen staff, too.

But another, more important reason for everything having a ‘home’ is that it makes a cooks’ life easier. You work faster this way, without scrambling to find butter or breadcrumbs when you need them the most.

If your home kitchen isn’t organized with a clear, easy-to-follow system, you might not feel the wrath of your boss for being a slowpokey mess. But you will have a harder time making the most of your kitchen.

PSST: Want to grab the template from this post AND all 22 recipes, cheat sheets, and worksheets from all the other posts in the series?

Make the Most of Your Kitchen

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Let’s take a look at my top 3 reasons why you should get yourself a kitchen organization system already.

With an organized kitchen system, you can:

1. Grab it quick

It probably goes without saying that a well-planned organization system will help you find your stuff faster. You don’t want to start baking cookies only to have to hunt down the baking soda.

But the real magic in an organization system comes not just from knowing where things are, but why they’re there in the first place. For example:

  • Keep the baking ingredients in the cupboard above the stand mixer and mixing bowls.
  • Store your pans with their lids close to the stove.
  • Keep silverware close to the sink so it’s put away clean much easier than traipsing halfway across the kitchen.
  • In the fridge, place defrosting meats in a dish or bowl on the bottom shelf. This way, any dripped juices won’t contaminate the rest of your fridge.
  • Put hot sauce and ketchup in the fridge door so they’re grabbed quickly on the way to the table.

These little things make a big difference in terms of speed!

Check out this example diagram I put together. Obviously, every kitchen is laid out different and requires its own system. But see how like item is placed with like item? The ‘flow’ of products, appliances, and ingredients makes sense compared to the location of the stove, sink, and fridge. I only wish my NYC kitchen was this big and airy, but that’s for another day.

Do you know why you need better kitchen organization? Years as a line cook taught me this important kitchen tip: organize yo'self. Here's why.

Side note, I only wish my NYC kitchen was this big and airy, but that’s for another day.

Make the Most of Your Kitchen

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2.Use FIFO

‘FIFO’ stands for ‘first in, first out’.

It’s also the way grocery stores stock their goods; the oldest thing goes in front of the newer thing.

Example:

You have a box of chicken broth that will expire soon. That soon-to-expire box of chicken stock should be used in something so it doesn’t go to waste, yes; but it should also be in front of the next oldest box of chicken stock. Not only will you be able to grab it quickly, like in Step One, but you’ll be able to tell immediately that you need to write ‘chicken stock’ on your grocery list.

This means a little extra work when you’re putting away groceries since you have to rotate the new stuff to the back, but it saves a ton of money in the long run and gives you peace of mind.

Won’t it be nice to never have to find yourself hunting down, say, tomato paste while swearing to yourself, “I KNOW I bought it last week! Or did I use it? Did someone else use it? WHERE DID IT GO.”

 3. Ninja-like speed

When you have a kitchen organization system, you can cook much faster. There’s no scramble. As you get to know your system, you can reach without thinking to grab the olive oil, or a pan, quickly move boiled pasta from the stovetop to a colander without extra steps involved. A smart system means you work faster, which gets dinner on the table quick. And that’s why we’re all here, right?

The key takeaway

The thing is, all three steps work together in order to best get your kitchen organized. Once you’ve got things in their ‘homes’, are operating with a FIFO rotation, and are so knowledgeable as to how your system works, your meals will get on the table faster, you’ll save money at the grocery store by not buying what you need, and (bonus) anyone can come into your kitchen and easily find their way around.

This also marks the end of this series! Woot woot! If you hung with me all the way through, you’re a freaking rockstar. I’d love if you shared your favorite part of the series so others can benefit, too!

Click below to read the last three posts in the ‘Make the Most of Your Kitchen Series’ 

How to Cook ‘Family Meal’ Like a Chef

‘Don’t Throw That Out!’ Reusing Leftover Food

The 5+ Best, ‘Must-Have’ Kitchen Appliances Every Busy Cook Needs

Make the Most of Your Kitchen

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“Don’t Throw That Out!” Reusing Leftover Food In Your Kitchen

Stop! Don't throw it out; follow this guide to reusing leftover food. Here's a huge list of ideas, with downloadable recipes & an easy infographic.

Stop! Don't throw it out; follow this guide to reusing leftover food. Here's a huge list of ideas, with downloadable recipes & an easy infographic.

Stop! Don't throw it out; follow this guide to reusing leftover food. Here's a huge list of ideas, with downloadable recipes & an easy infographic.

Stop! Don’t throw out those old leftovers before reading this first. Here’s a handy guide to repurposing and reusing leftover food.

It’s the hallmark of good meal planning; stretching one dinner into two. Of course, it’s a simple change to turn a roast chicken dinner one night into chicken salad the next; but what do you do with those really random ingredients, which might not be so obvious? Reusing leftover food can save you so much time and money!

You have to think outside the box and figure out just how you’re going to use up the rest of that buttermilk, but that’s not always so easy when you’re busy and dinner needs to get on the table, pronto.

One Meal, Two Dinners

I have totally been there! So I put on my designer hat and created a handy cheat sheet that helps you figure out just how go about reusing leftover food in your own kitchen.

You can pin the image to save for later! It’s got some great recipe ideas, each of which is listed below. If the recipe is available on this site, it’ll be a clickable link. If you want access to all the recipe, click the big yellow button below to download a full PDF.  Follow the ‘read more’ link for more!

Stop! Don't throw it out; follow this guide to reusing leftover food. Here's a huge list of ideas, with downloadable recipes & an easy infographic.

(psst! Before you click- leave your email to access ALL 22 recipes, cheat sheets, worksheets, templates and advice in this ‘Make More Of Your Kitchen’ series!)

Make the Most of Your Kitchen

Get this FREE ebook chock full of recipes, cheat sheets, guides and advice to help you get your act together in the kitchen.

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How To Cook ‘Family Meal’ Just Like a Chef

Have you ever heard of the restaurant “family meal”? It’s a term used in the hospitality industry, and it usually means a big meal that the chef makes for the rest of the staff.

Before service, everyone on shift that night sits down and eats together. Family meal is the perfect way to connect with your fellow staff members before the insanity of a busy dinner shift hits. It’s also the perfect way for the kitchen to reuse leftover food and cook straight from the heart, instead of ‘by the book’.

Since everyone is sitting together, the family meal also gives the manager a chance inform the staff about important things going on that night. They’ll run through specials, what’s 86’d (ie what the kitchen or bar has run out of), big parties or special guests that have reserved tables, or give a heads up on items that need to get “pushed” (ie, encourage your customers to buy)

Isn’t that just like how you imagine a good family meal in your own home to be? The best meals use up whatever is currently in the kitchen to make a big, satisfying meal, then everyone sits down together and hashes out their days and plans.

(psst! First, download ALL 22 recipes, cheat sheets, guides and templates from this kitchen series!)

Make the Most of Your Kitchen

Get this FREE ebook chock full of recipes, cheat sheets, guides and advice to help you get your act together in the kitchen.

We won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time. Powered by ConvertKit

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