Finish the School-Lunch-Prep Chaos

My family is currently in countdown mode for the big back-to-school sendoff. While my two kids are fretting over choosing their ideal school supplies and outfits, I’ve been dreading the thought of returning to the daily grind of preparing school lunches.

I’m not fond of what the school cafeteria functions and prefer packing the children’s lunches myself. Ironically, the seemingly straightforward process has caused me endless grief, what with the mishmash of lunch box stuff scattered all over our kitchen. It’s like a bad comedy played out each weekday morning, wherein I am running around in my robe trying to find all of the carelessly placed pieces.

This season I’ve vowed to stop the lunch-making madness once and for all by means of a bona fide lunch management system. I’ve taken over a cabinet centrally situated between the fridge and the fruit screen. This embarrassingly straightforward solution took me 20 minutes to implement, and the results will save loads of time in the weeks to come.

Rollout trays let me retrieve lunch prep substances, including newly purchased lunch boxes which we’ve paired with older (and still functioning) parts from last year’s Bento-Ware Notebook lunch boxes. Our stainless steel Klean Kanteen collection has served us well over the past four decades of school lunches, and with fresh new sport caps, so they will keep doing so for years to come.

The base drawer contains my backup materials for when the children inevitably forget their lunch boxes in school.

I am happy to say I’ve finally learned to utilize only things that could go in the dishwasher every night or, in the instance of those lunch bags from Target made of wet-suit material, at the washing machine in the close of the week.

Heirloom Design Build

Space is key. We’d all be so lucky if we had this 5-foot-wide by two1/2-foot-deep pantry by Heirloom Design Build to operate with each morning. Heck, every child could have a shelf devoted to their own lunch box and accessories.

For a lot of us this may be impossible, but the key ingredients here are the tall, open shelves and sliding baskets. The shelving height accommodates a variety of lunch box and water bottle peaks, as well as tall cracker and cereal boxes so they can stand upright.

Sliding baskets of varying dimensions, like those from Sidelines, are fantastic for wrangling water bottle covers, Tupperware shirts, paper bags and plastic baggies. The best feature of this pantry, though, is its ability to be shut off.

Organization is everything. But let us say there is not an abundance of space on your current kitchen. Or the space can not be shut off. In both of these scenarios, baskets, like this rattan type, are a fantastic remedy for keeping lunch containers and their accoutrements in one contained place.

Baskets allow clean but still moist containers to dry overnight. Even in the event that you don’t have enough time to wash lunch boxes every day, mold will not grow as fast in open spaces.

Charmean Neithart Interiors

Keep it fairly. If you are working with open shelving, disguise its utilitarian purpose with a background that is calming amidst the lunch preparation insanity. Designer and contributor Charmean Neithart additional this calming print from Joseph Abboud for Kravet behind drifting custom shelves.

Fruit stored farmer’s-market-style supplies pops of color against the silent blue-gray backdrop.

Tommy Hein Architects

Pullouts are priceless. If you are remodeling a pantry to fit your lunch prep needs, consider adding pullout wire racks. Like baskets, they also allow lunch parts to dry out overnight. Unlike baskets, they let you see everything without any obstructions. There’s no losing Tupperware shirts in any recesses.

Just how can you plan to manage your lunch-box system this past year?

Browse lunch and bento boxes at the Products section

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