Sometimes it’s the little things. And we forget that one woman’s small tip is another woman’s life-changing idea. Recently a mom thanked me for something I said a year ago in a session at the Homeschool Moms Winter Summit. It was a sanity-saving secret for an everyday occurrence, my #1 best idea for homeschool lunches.
No, it wasn’t a recipe. Our normal homeschool lunches don’t usually involve recipes. They consist of leftovers, sandwiches, soup, eggs, nachos, and other quick and easy foods.
The secret wasn’t a new organization plan involving complicated forms or menus.
So what is my #1 best idea for homeschool lunches? Here it is:
Have your kids make their own lunch.
Before you gasp and choke on your coffee, here’s why:
Everybody can eat on their own schedule. Younger children are usually ready for an early lunch. As soon as they finish phonics and math and handwriting practice, turn them loose in the kitchen. High schoolers won’t have to interrupt their studies to join the family at the table. They can eat lunch when they reach a good stopping place, which may not match the timing of others.
It’s one less meal for Mom to cook. I rest my case.
It teaches independence and cooking skills. The average five-year-old at our house learned to pull up a chair to the countertop and cook a quesadilla on the griddle. There’s a certain amount of pride and self-reliance involved in being trusted to perform an adult task. Bonus: they just might cook a mean cheese and chicken quesadilla for you, too. Butter two tortillas, slap some cheese and leftover chicken between them and grill till golden brown. Easy peasy.
It encourages responsibility. They learn to close the bread bag and put away the cheese. Each person is responsible for basic cleanup of his or her own lunch mess.
It’s one less decision for your overloaded brain. You don’t have to plan lunches and feel responsible for feeding the multitudes. Keep the kitchen stocked with popular ingredients and you’re good to go.
Kids get to eat what they want to eat. Within reason. We do have a few rules. The meal has to contain protein, and it can’t consist of mainly sugar. But it’s okay if they decide to eat a peanut butter sandwich every day. Most of us appreciate the autonomy of choosing what we want to eat when we’re hungry. Kids are persons, too.
It sounds so simple. But amidst the curriculum decisions and social pressures and school supply shopping, this little idea may not have occurred to you. Often our children are able to take far more responsibility than we give them credit for.
There may be a season of training and messes at first. You may cringe at the thought of turning the kitchen over to the troops. If you feel that you can’t trust them or that they’ll whine and balk, that’s not a lunch problem. Your homeschool will go much smoother if you deal with those heart issues, lunch or no lunch.
Less time in the kitchen, less planning, and less cleanup for you: it’s a win-win situation. Try letting your kids take charge of their own meal at lunchtime. It might be your #1 best idea for homeschool lunches, ever.
How do YOU save time and sanity in the kitchen when it comes to homeschool lunches?