We happily stepped back into our school routine last week, sharpening pencils and opening fresh notebooks, flipping through old books on our shelves and thumbing through new ones, too. I know not every home feels as enthusiastic about this shift toward structure and routine again, but I LOVE the start of a fresh school year––even the ones we arbitrarily create at home. Wink.
The key to fluid days around here is keeping snack and lunchtime simple, synchronous, and á la carte. I know. You expected some other deeper bit of wisdom, perhaps even something more specific to our studies? But this is truth: having or not having food in some amount of order for our days can make or break it. Meal times form the backbone of our day’s rhythm, and as it turns out, having a purposeful pantry and fridge at the beginning of the week is not only a miraculous gift, but also a contributor to peaceful days spent at home.
I realized several years ago, that although we don’t need to pack lunches for our homeschool, choosing a few quality pre-made snacks to have around the pantry is a life-saver to mix into the day, whether for lunch or a snack or a last minute outing. And I’m happy to partner with Annie’s Homegrown this week, as their organic snacks are longtime favorites to add to our school day table and beyond.
Since our children each have meal responsibilities during the week––helping to chop, prep, and create meals one day a week––they also choose how to pair and prep various fruits and veggies during snack and lunch. The á la carte style options allows each of the kids to choose how to create and re-create, even within limited options. Perhaps chopped apples and Annie’s White Cheddar Bunnies for snack one day will feel entirely different when swapping apples for berries or carrots and hummus. Even with young children, it offers variety while empowering them with options as the helper. Snacks often are planned at the beginning of the week together, which offers the benefit of choice but without the hassle of snack-time bickering during the day.
As for other ways we keep daytime meals simple, it’s important that everyone eats at the same time. Otherwise, our kitchen is a non-stop train of grazing, mess, and incomplete meals. Snack-time might be as simple as adding a box of Organic Snack Mix to our afternoon table, passing around––or more importantly, playing with––Organic Really Peely Fruit Tape, or setting a bowl of fruit at the center of our work table. The same can also neatly pack in a backpack on days we go for a nature walk or play with friends. It depends on our own needs for that part of the day, but it’s important we all snack at the same time so we’re ready for meals together, too.
Lunchtime is a more distinct pause in our day, a meal together without the distraction of any books or projects. I love creating lunch boards with my helpers to again create a selection for everyone to choose from and build on their own. They vary day-to-day sometimes with leftovers from dinner, or fixings for sandwiches or wraps, meats and cheeses or peanut butter and jelly. White Cheddar Bunnies are always welcome. We’ve also more recently discovered using cloth napkins with a lunch board can save time washing dishes and paper towels, too.
Whether you’re packing your littles off to school or trying to create fluid days within your home, having your children help can save you time and empower their independence, too. Let them pack their lunches the night before and plan with you a bit at the front of the week. Are they happy to eat the same thing every day or are there simple ways to swap one part for another? And for all of you mutual lovers of Annie’s Homegrown, use your Target Cartwheel app all month to save money and stock up on your family’s favorites.
This post is sponsored by Annie’s Homegrown, snacks our family has enjoyed for years. All thoughts and images are my own. And as always, thank you for supporting the businesses that help keep this space afloat.
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Target & Annie’s. The opinions and text are all mine.
These are great tips. Sometimes it’s the simple things that make all the difference. I homeschool with kids ages 6, 4, and 2 and it’s rare for ten minutes to go by without someone asking for a snack, and everyone wants something different. I’m also pregnant so add my cravings to the mix!
Do you have any added tips from when your kiddos were younger and not as independent/helpful?
Hi Anna! I completely remember those busy ages, and on my best weeks, I chopped veggies (carrots, celery, bell peppers, etc) on the front end of the week and stored them in a covered casserole dish in the fridge for the week. Chopping a quick apple or peeling fruit or grabbing a handful of snack mix was an easy compliment (and something even the youngest children could do to help). In short, prep ahead over the weekend when you have more help with the kids. Wink. I hope it helps!
Thank you for another great post- anything to help with kids! My kids go to school but these same ideas apply to packed lunches and snacks when they get home from school :) Do you mind if I ask where your gorgeous gray sofa is from? I am currently looking for a new one and love yours! Thank you!
Great idea with the lunch board and cloth napkins. Thank you for sharing!
Now I know your secret, ha! Somedays I would do an elaborate lunch because I try to be healthy and eat well but it completely derails school for us. It’s like I can’t win. :)
Will you share what is the name of the book that is opened? The heading of the page says “The Secret Life of Plants.” It shows the picture of the growth of the acorn into an oak tree, and the artwork is beautiful! You always have such beautiful books.
Yes! It’s Natural World, and I absolutely love the graphics and layout of the book. It’s more of a resource to flip and use than a read straight-through, but all of the pages are neatly tabbed and organized, and the cover transforms into a poster, too. So clever.
Could you please share the reference for the other book as well? Thanks for sharing your inspirations.