I’m working abroad next week, which happens from time to time. Three or four times a year, I have assignments that take me to various parts of the world. You would think I just pack and roll out, but no. With Tiny in school, Teeny potty training, and Papa Bear left to his own devices for the week, it is a process! The week before I leave is actually pretty hectic. Not only am I working full time and preparing to be gone from work for a week, but I have to get the house and kids ready for a week of mommyless fun.
So first, we’ll start with the laundry. I go ahead and get the laundry done for not just a week, but a week and a half. Since I am getting back on a Sunday this time, I need to go ahead and get enough laundry organized so that not only do the kiddos match for the week I am gone, but I also do not have to scramble to get their laundry done after I get home about 9:00 the night before. It is just easier to go ahead and do a couple of extra days so that I can have a little breathing room when I get back. See my previous post on organizing for a normal week here.
Lunches are similar. I will go ahead and make Papa Bear’s sandwiches for the week as well as Tiny’s. Papa Bear likes the same sandwich every day for the week, so that is really easy. Tiny likes a little more variety, so I usually make Bento boxes for her. Lately, she has really enjoyed pizza dippers and brie and apple sandwiches. So, to make the 5 bento boxes for the week, I will go ahead and make two pizza dippers. For that box, we take one mini naan from the deli section of the grocery store. Stonefire makes a really great one. I cut the naan into 8 pieces and stack them into the large compartment of the bento. Next we package the toppings. Since these are not pre toasted, I generally put the toppings into 2 oz. disposable condiment cups so that she can sprinkle them on the naan without them getting completely mixed together and gross. She likes cheese, mini pepperoni and pizza sauce. Each gets its own little cup. I put the sauce into the compartment with the naan, pepperoni and cheese go together, and then apple slices or black olives go into a sandwich bag and then into the final compartment.
Our next two bento boxes are apple and brie sandwiches. I like to use a really crusty baguette for these. Spread both pieces of bread with brie and layer apple slices as the filling. Crisp, creamy and delicious! generally add black olives, Amy’s organic bunny gummies (she loves the berry) and Kroger brand organic cheesy kangaroos. They are like goldfish, but little roos. Adorable. Who wouldn’t want to have those little guys hop into their lunch box? Finally, and easiest of all, I place three rolled slices of rotisserie chicken sandwich meat and three rolled slices of Colby jack into the large compartment of the final two boxes. The sides for this box are either garden salad with Olive Garden brand dressing, an apple sauce pouch or black olives and crackers to go with the meat and cheese. Bentos are done! I will pack snacks and a juice pouch in her lunch box and put the remainder of the juice pouches for the week in the same drawer of the fridge so that she can easily select one for her book bag each morning. For Monday and Tuesday of the following week, I cheat – I’m not even going to try an cover the fact that she is going to get Lunchables. I don’t generally love to send those with her because it is a carb fest and low in protein, sometimes you just have to roll with it.
At least I don’t have to worry about my salads for the week, so just prepping Papa Bear and Tiny’s will set me up for the week. See my post on laundry organization here.
The time I just saved not having to prep my own lunches for the week just went out the window. I will go ahead and cook for them for the week as well. Since I am not here to do all of the things I usually do and give Papa Bear a break for a week, I try to make it as easy as possible for him to get the kids up, dressed and out the door. When they get home, I want him to be able to focus on homework, reading and honestly, just keeping them in one piece. My sweet babies are rowdy! So, in the weeks leading up to any trip, I go ahead and try to cook double batches of dishes that I know they will eat. This past week I was able to add three dishes to the freezer to give them plenty of options. No doubt they will also eat out once or twice, but as of right now the have:
- Roasted chicken with orzo in a tomato pesto
- English Pea Casserole
- Stuffed shells in a Bolognese sauce
I will leave salad mix in the fridge, sliced apples, apple sauce and green beans in the fridge for them to eat with the dishes above. My kids will eat apple sauce like it is candy, are pretty good with salad, green beans, green peas and a few other non starchy vegies, but are rather picky. It limits what I leave in lunch boxes and for dinners. Let’s face it, I know if I am 1500 miles away I can’t sit them down and make them eat vegies that they don’t want. So, I humbly bow to the inevitable (my favorite phrase from To Kill A Mockingbird) and leave things I know they love so that at least a few vegies and fruits pass their lips while I am away. It’s all about balance, right? Why fight the battle if you can avoid it.
Once I have them set and ready for the week, I can now pack my own suitcase and try not to forget anything. Papa Bear is an old pro at this point, so between him and Grand ma’ ma’ helping out, the kids are going to be rotten by the time I get back.