How to Make At-Home Lunchtime Easier for Everyone
Making lunch while kids are remote learning (and parents are working) is challenging—so we asked parents for some advice.
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Encourage kids to make (or at least heat) their own lunch.
It’s possible! Beverly Chase in Brooklyn has an 11-year-old son who makes his working-from-home parents lunch every day. “It is really the only ‘chore’ that he does voluntarily, and it does mean that we have to eat deli meat sandwiches every day,” she says.
For those who aren’t so lucky, it might help to set the kitchen-stage for kids. Aimee Hartstein in Maplewood, NJ says she always has the basics on hand (“frozen pizzas, burritos, and sandwich stuff”) and schooled her sixth grader in a few basic concepts. “I vaguely taught him to make cheesy eggs, a grilled cheese, and a quesadilla,” she says. She also bought a quesadilla maker. “It’s divided into 8 “pizza slices” and presses together so he’d be more into it.”
Nicole Davis in Hastings says she makes croissants and muffins available throughout the day. “For lunch I have frozen lunches like Amy's, frozen farmer's market chili—all prepared, ready to reheat.”
Ko suggests boiling a bunch of eggs and keeping them in a grab-bowl in the fridge. To streamline daily lunch prep, she also likes preparing big batches of building blocks, such as grains and beans. “I keep them ready-to-scoop in refrigerated airtight containers,” she says.
This might be the year your 9-year-old finally learns how to make scrambled eggs. "Since schooling from home doesn't take as long as going in-person, you can use the extra time to add an important life skill to your child's curriculum—cooking in the kitchen!" Leake says. Check out our favorite kids cooking classes—not only will your kids gain a new skill, they might also start making lunch.
Finally, there is an upside to lunch at home. While the prep and cleanup can be a drag, lunchtime might bring the family together. Jessica Arinella in Westchester says her kids who became closer during the summer don’t see each other as often during school hours. “So they’ve been reconnecting at lunch,” she says. Chase points out that “pre-pandemic, we would be spending tons of money on lunch or we would never have time to stop and eat lunch at all. Now it's the only time of day we all stop doing whatever we are doing and eat together, even if it's just for ten mins.”
Easy Make-Ahead Recipes: