Back-to-school anxiety: 3 in 5 parents stressed out just thinking about packing lunches again

NEW YORK — Two in five parents are the most stressed out before the school day even begins. That’s according to a survey of 2,000 parents of school-aged children that looked at some of the biggest pain points for parents getting ready for back-to-school season. Trouble begins at the grocery store of all places for more than half of parents (54%).

Grocery shopping is not an easy task for parents. The top hurdle is trying to stay within a budget (50%), with accommodating all their loved ones’ unique taste preferences coming in a close second (49%).

Packed lunch blues

Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of HelloFresh, the survey finds that nearly three in five (59%) parents say they’re stressed just thinking about packing their kids’ lunches again — with expensive groceries (56%) and just not having enough time to make lunch (40%) sending parents spinning.

While a similar three in five try to cut time by packing leftovers from last night’s dinner for their kid’s lunch, grocery shopping is a chore for parents everywhere. Despite trying to shop off of a grocery list, stick to a budget, or find sale items, grocery shopping can get expensive all too quickly.

Although plenty of parents budget during the summer to prepare for back-to-school season (58%), parents spend an extra $390 on groceries per person in their household during the school year. Most parents still find planning and making dinner stressful (59%), even though 41 percent of parents agree that it is the easiest meal to prepare for kids during the school year.

Half of parents say they have discussions with their family about what they should make for dinner, while another 47 percent say they decide what to make based on their family’s schedule. Another 44 percent worry it will be difficult to plan and prepare all meals for their kid now that they’re returning to school in person.

“Grocery shopping during the school year can really add up and cause a lot of increased stress for families,” says Dana Murrell, head of culinary at HelloFresh, in a statement.

No nuggets for you

On average, parents pack lunches for their children three times a week, trying to prioritize healthy options above all (57%). Most parents always try to include fruits and vegetables for lunch (83%) but are likely to see them untouched in their kid’s lunch box at the end of the day.

Half of the parents add their kids make things a bit easier by asking for their “usual” lunch selection, while another 36 percent of parents have had to get creative when their kid asks for lunch inspired by a classmate’s lunch.

“As we head back to school following an especially challenging year, many parents are readjusting to new schedules and are really stressed about planning and prepping lunch for their kids,” Murrell adds.