Hi. I’m Julie! I’m a Christ- follower, wife, mother, writer (and I wear a few other hats too.) Messes. I create them or get thrown into them. I’ve decided I can choose to give up or endure and grow wiser through them. God uses all my messes to make me better.

guest post by: Julie Loos

I am not a morning person. Before seven in the morning is early. The bus comes at 6:50 at our house.

Did I mention that I’m not a morning person?

In the wee hours, I waddle to the kitchen and park myself in a chair until I can make my brain work. I’m not a coffee drinker either, so there is no jolt of energy or coherency quickly.

My morning dilemma would begin like clockwork around 6:20 each day.

I don’t want a pb &j.” “I want something completely different.” “We have no food in the house!” “We have no desserts.”

My kids do not like the school’s lunch, so every day I pack four lunches. You’re probably thinking that isn’t a big deal, but when you’re still asleep, this is a huge deal.

I’ve tried everything to get them to just eat the school’s lunch; but too many times, they said the lunch was bad.

Packing four lunches used to be brutal in the morning.

The whining and complaining would last forever.

All I could hear was fingernails on the chalkboard, and I would become irritable and crabby. Every. Morning.

This was not the way I wanted to spend precious time with my kids, nor have them start out their days. How was I reflecting God when I was an irritable mess?

I came across the idea of pre-packing lunches somewhere online and trialed it this past year.

Here are my tips for streamlining lunches so you don’t have to make them in the morning: (For you non-morning people it will feel like you’ve won the lottery. Every, single, morning)

  • I used containers from Dollar General and printed off pictures of the food groups for my non-readers.
    1. Meat to stand for protein – (sandwiches, wraps, beef sticks, sausages, nuts, hummus etc.)
    2. Vegetables – carrots, black olives, green olives, celery, pickles, salsa etc.
    3. Fruit – applesauce, apples, blueberries, grapes, frozen berries, bananas etc.
    4. Cow=Dairy – string cheese, yogurt, pudding (counts as sweet also) etc. ( my kids buy milk at school)  
    5. Grains – chips, goldfish, rice cakes, crackers, granola bars, cereal etc.
    6. Sweets – fruit snacks, brownies, cookies, Jello, trail mixes etc.
  • I would prep my containers on Saturday or Sunday after an Aldi grocery run

*Aldi has dropped my grocery bills at least 35-40%

  • I would make/have at least 2 different varieties in each container so it increased my chances of pleasing everyone.
  • I bought 300-count sandwich bag box from Walmart (I go through lots of these bags)
  • I made at least 15 sandwiches (and they didn’t dry out)
  • I refrigerated all containers except the grains and the sweets which I kept in the pantry.
  • Each morning one child brings out the containers and arranges them on the counter. Another child picks them up when finished and puts them away.

It worked like clockwork every morning. A huge win-win for us all. For you non-morning people it will feel like you’ve won the lottery. Every. Single. Morning. The atmosphere in our home was positive and enjoyable.

Other tips that I found make it run smoother:

  • I would keep inventory about how much was left each day in case I needed to refill or head to the grocery store.
  • I also kept tabs on the popular items versus unpopular items so I knew what to stock up on.

Moving forward to this year, I’m going to try and come up with some different sandwich recipes and incorporating wraps more.

I do have a food thermos that a child can use to take leftovers to school, so I might get one or two more of those.

The kids also have access to a microwave at school, so I might have to come up with some ideas for that.

One struggle is it’s hard to guide the kids to choose healthy items when the rest of the kids aren’t bringing healthy choices. I do hear complaints about that, but I think my kids eat a pretty balanced diet.

One goal of mine this year, is to do more baking for the dessert bin. Packaged desserts are pricey, and I am able to bake items my kids enjoy too.

Planning ahead has allowed me to be more present in the morning with my kids. I’m not flying around getting their lunches made and becoming crabby in the midst of it. I can display the character I want to display to them, gentleness and love, and set their day off in a good manner.

I hope these tips are helpful and can streamline your morning with your children and let them see more of Jesus in you.

Philippians 4:5 (NIV) Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.

 Julie Loos is the mom of 5 kids and has been happily married to Greg for 17 years. She loves to read, eat chocolate, drink iced tea and spend time writing in the midst of messes. You can find her blog @ unmaskingthemess.com or follow her on;

Facebook @ http://www.facebook.com/unmaskingthemess/

Twitter: @juliealoos          

Instagram: juliealoos

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Sharon Schuler

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