This is how I make school mornings easier. I’m not what you would call an “organized planner” type of person, however, when it comes to food, I can get serious about it.
Because heated up hodge-podge and random food from the fridge makes me sad, (and Jeremy left to his own devices will default to this) I came up with a solution.
So we have a “breakfast schedule” now. This will be our second full year on this schedule and I love it. Since we do one meal plan per month, it allows me to get used to buying the ingredients I’ll need each week, and because the kids love variety, they get a fresh menu each month and never eat the same things twice in the same week. Everybody wins.
If this post elicits an eye roll from you because I feed my kids roasted chicken and tomato omelettes with brie before school, just know that this is because I actually like this sort of thing. Like, I will be whipping up green juices and potato frittatas in the kitchen while my kids are upstairs scrounging around for clean underwear because laundry is not something I like. The point is, don’t feel bad. If you notice, I have a cereal day slated in for the month of August and some days are just hard boiled eggs and fruit. The food schedule is the thing to pay attention to, not necessarily it’s contents.
Jeremy actually is the one who normally makes school breakfast in our house. I’m the lunch packer. HOWEVER, do you know what happened just yesterday? I sat down to write this breakfast list and then to write my packed lunches list. Jeremy was next to me going over what our school schedule would be.
What time do we need to get the kids up to make it to school on time?
What will our homework policy be?
When I started work on the lunch list. I had written one week’s worth of school lunches out before Jeremy said, “Will Jeremiah want hot lunch this year since he’s starting middle school?” I looked up what the school cafeteria would be serving the first week of school. All the schools here serve the same food across the board, so whatever the elementary kids are getting, the middle schoolers are also getting. Jeremy said, “Looks like they are serving homemade pizza on Fridays, but every other day they make things like Peruvian chicken and vegetables over rice and they have grab and go salads everyday. Sometimes you make them bagels and cream cheese, Krysta. Hot lunch might be as healthy as homemade.”
I looked up at him.
For the past twelve years I have made my kids homemade packed lunches in the name of stay-at-home-mom duty and relative health. However, they are not what I’d call super HEALTHY. In recent years, in an effort to streamline things, I’ve adopted this blueprint for lunch: one main thing (sandwich, quesadilla, etc), one fruit, one veggie, and one “crap snack” like chips or a granola bar from the pantry. A water bottle and BOOM you’re done. I like this. Sometimes I’ll make things interesting and throw in some ranch for celery or carrot sticks, or guacamole for cauliflower, and lemon juice and salt with chili powder over cucumber spears, but sometimes I just throw in a naked bag of sugar snap peas and call it good.
I’ve been dedicated to making lunches in an unnatural way for years. Hot lunch has always been out of the question as far as I’m concerned. I’m a stay-at-home mom for goodness sake. What is my whole job if not to make lunches?
These are the things I think. I judge no other moms on whether they make their kids lunches or not. I’ve never even asked. It’s just I’ve always felt a duty to build my kids sandwiches lovingly from hand and cut carrot sticks into just the right size pieces. I don’t know. I’m crazy-loyal to the whole process and it’s ridiculous.
“Are you suggesting I not make lunches for any of the kids this year?” I asked.
“I don’t know. It seems like, pizza aside, it’s pretty good stuff.”
Not organic, I thought.
He could tell what I was thinking.
“Krysta, when you bake frozen chicken fingers from a box for them to take it’s no better than the schools chicken alfredo.”
But the chicken fingers are organic, I thought.
It’s true though. Sometimes I make incredibly stellar things for lunch, like roll ups with red peppers and cucumber or grilled chicken strips, but other times it’s some frozen chicken fingers or pizza pockets from the frozen section of my store. It’s true. Yeah they get the fruit and veggie but I serve all that at home anyway.
A delightful smile crossed my face just thinking about being free from the bondage of making my kids lunch everyday. Would I allow it? COULD I ACTUALLY ALLOW IT?!
I looked over at Ellie Hope. She is starting kindergarten this year. I really wanted my kids’ childhood memories to include homemade lunches from their mom. If I didn’t, one day she’d tell her friends, “My mom never made me lunch,” and part of me might die a little. But why? Would she even care? Isabella and Jeremiah would remember. I could hang onto that.
“What if you were the one to make the breakfasts and I made more green juices and smoothies to go with them?” Jeremy asked.
That excited me a little. If I could clear the headspace normally used for lunch packing, I could channel it onto more elaborate breakfasts and dinners. Besides I have books to write and trails to run, weights to lift and books to read, lunches with friends to have and groceries to shop for and laundry to do and dishes to load. Recipes to test and photographs to take, back-to-school clothes to shop for, and research on non-profits to read. Plus maybe I’ll start a theatre company. Who knows. I got a whole life to live, yo.’
So that’s what I decided to do. But I just need to put it on record that I struggled with the whole Ellie-not-knowing-her-mom’s-lunches thing AFTER TWELVE YEARS OF DOING IT ALREADY. It doesn’t seem fair. I put in the time.
So lunches gone, we have more elaborate breakfasts. And probably dinners.
*Note: editors would take this whole section out on lunches because this post has to do with BREAKFASTS and it’s distracting, but this is my blog and I do what I want.
It stays in.
So I don’t know if you are interested in doing something similar, but for this otherwise unorganized mom it’s really a great system. It’s pretty easy too. Just write the month at the top of a blank piece of paper and then days of the week under it. It helps to do several months at a time because when you are in the groove, it’s easier.
Next, pick one breakfast that a no brainer for you. Cereal or oatmeal or over easy eggs, avocado toast or cinnamon toast and berries. You know, things that don’t take much prep, then write that for one of your days. Next pick one day and make a smoothie with plenty of hearty filling ingredients in them, like yogurt and nuts or protein powder or fats like avocado or coconut oil. That can be another day, and it’s minimal prep. You can even make frozen smoothie packs ahead fo time to prepare if you fancy (measure out all your fruit and greens in appropriate proportion with nuts and place in a ziplock freezer bag). Write how much milk you need to add to the blender. You’ll forget in the morning rush and be glad you did. You can find great smoothie recipes on Pinterest or in Julie Morriss’ book “Superfood Smoothies.” “Crazy Sexy Juice” is another great one. Next pick something fancier if you want or just something that takes more thoughtful prep, such as egg and toast in a cup, french toast, or spinach egg muffin cups with fruit, egg and toast in a hole. That sort of thing. That’ll get you going. From there, you can fill in the remaining two days with either more easy stuff or intermediate or fancy. You pick.
Here are my current breakfast lists to inspire more ideas:
—watermelon lime smoothie w/ hard boiled eggs.
—green juice (kale, lemon, cucumber, celery) with sausage or bacon and oranges
—egg omelettes w/sour cream mixed in with roasted asparagus
—carrot lemon or red cabbage juice and apple or bananas with almond butter
—egg in a hole with berries
—egg and toast in a cup
—strawberry banana w/ greens powder smoothie w/ bacon
—green juice (romaine, lime) with over easy eggs and melon
—french toast with berries and whipped cream
—herb baked eggs
—apple cinnamon oatmeal
—breakfast salad (bacon, eggs, arugula, basil, balsamic, blue cheese or feta)
—green juice (green apple, cucumber, celery, kale, lemon) w/ gf morning glory muffins
—sausages and sautéed cinnamon apples
—avocado toast w/ oranges
—garlic sautéed kale bowl with avocado, feta, over easy eggs
—cream of wheat w/ cinnamon sugar w/ green juice (kale, cucumber, lemon, turmeric)
—hard boiled eggs and fruit
—broccoli parmesan scramble
—carrot and lemon or red cabbage juice w/ cinnamon toast
—Mayan black thunder chocolate smoothie
— kale, red onion, bacon hash with eggs
—roasted tomato, chicken, and brie omelette and green juice
—cereal w/ milk
— breakfast tacos w/ avocado
And now a recipe for my Watermelon Lime Smoothie, because I know you were wondering 😉
Watermelon Lime Smoothie
- 3 cups watermelon, cubed and frozen
- 1 ripe banana, peeled and frozen
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup or raw honey
- Zest from 1 lime
- Juice from 1 lime (about 2 tablespoons)
- 1/2 cup water
Blend together until incorporated and pour and serve right away. This smoothie begins to separate but it’s easy to reincorporate with a stir of a straw and has a soft, creamy dreamy texture.
This smoothie doesn’t have protein or added fats to I typically serve with with a side of something to keep the kids full— an half of a avocado with lemon and salt, or bacon does the trick.