What’s for Lunch?

It started with Ayub eating peanuts.  Then he would eat peanut butter, but not on crackers or bread.  It had to be on a spoon.  “Peanutbudderspoon.”  But then, I bought some Uncrustables for the older kids. For those of you who don’t know what that is, they are pre-made, frozen, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with the crusts cut off.   We hadn’t had them in quite a while, because they are pretty expensive for what you get, but I was tired of making lunches, so I succumbed.  Ayub, of course, thought this was a pretty neat concept and tried one.  HE ATE IT!!

Now, many people would not be excited to have their son try and like an overpriced, frozen food that is probably filled with preservatives I can’t pronounce.  However, to me, it was the open door I needed to make a change in his lunch habits.  You see, up until now, I’d been making pasta (spaghetti or macaroni) every morning and putting it in a thermos for his lunch.  Yippee for sandwiches!!

Yet, sandwiches still take time to prepare, so I had to streamline this process.  Yes, I am that crazy.  So, if the Uncrustables people can freeze them, why couldn’t I?  Thus, I embarked on the biggest PB&J making event of my life.  Two loaves of bread, laid out on individual baggies.

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Add peanut butter.

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Add jelly.  I have switched to squeeze bottle jelly.  I used to find it disgusting, now I find it time-saving.  Don’t judge me.

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Finally, I put the sandwiches into their individual baggies, then put 9 sandwiches into a gallon sized freezer bag.  I nestled them carefully in the freezer next to the Lean Cuisine and shiro.

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Total time to make 21 sandwiches – 19 minutes.  SCORE!

The next morning, I packed three frozen sandwiches into lunch boxes and asked the kids to report back.  Eleanor said that hers was soggy.  I was crestfallen.  But then she added “but I liked it – you should do that every day.”  Whew…  As for Sam, he didn’t notice a difference.  Boys.  And Ayub?  “I ate it all, Mom.  My tummy growin’.”  Yippee!!

Now, I will admit that there are some down sides to this plan.  First, I had to use disposable bags rather than our cute reusable sandwich wraps.  I feel slightly bad about ruining the environment with more trash.  Second, if you don’t have a separate freezer, you may not have the room to do this.  It did take up quite a bit of space.  However, a few months ago, our freezer broke and everything was thawed, so we have more space than usual right now.  Last, these are great for school lunches because they thaw, but they aren’t something you can just pull out on a weekend when the kids are hungry.   Overall, though, I will definitely be doing this on a regular basis.  It made packing lunches in the morning so much quicker.  I just grabbed sandwiches, some fruit, a drink or water bottle, and shoved it all in.  Since mornings are by far the craziest time of our day, it helps immensely to not be boiling pasta anymore.

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8 responses

  1. Love it! My family is half the size of yours (but same adult to child ratio) so I’m always trying to figure out how to make routine things easier too.

    As for using the cute, reusable packages you have, could you make the sandwiches, freeze them on a cookie sheet (maybe stack time w/saran wrap between the layers. Then, when they’re good and frozen, put them in the gallon ziplocs. When you need one, you could pull one out and wrap it. One more step in the morning (and possibly not worth it) but it could reduce the sandwich bag usage. Just a thought…

      • Just thought of another of my favorite time saving tricks….on Sunday (or before the crazy of a week starts), saute a bunch of onions, maybe together with some carrots and celery too, and store it in the fridge. So many recipes start with that step that I find it hugely satisfying to have it already done and to be able to cut the time spent cooking/prepping on any particular night. And, in a pinch, it can be the basis for a frittata (my all time favorite “what are we going to have for dinner” meal). I haven’t gotten this organized yet but I’m pretty sure you can freeze that combo too.

  2. If you put peanut butter on both pieces of bread, it will help decrease any sogginess. 🙂 That’s the way uncrustables does it. You can also buy sandwich presses (round, cat shaped, etc…) if you are aiming for the no crust.

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