Tips on how to get your kids to pack their own lunches

            Anybody else hate mornings? I can barely roll out of bed in time to get breakfast and uniforms ready before the mad dash to school, let alone create balanced and nutritious school lunches for two kids.

            Even as our kids get older, we still do a lot of things for them that they can do themselves. Whether it’s hanging up their wet towels, putting the cap back on the toothpaste or wiping up their spills, it never seems to end. It’s time we all started asking our kids to help themselves more, and we can start with having them pack their own lunches.

            It’s easy, it saves money, and you know your kids will be getting something healthier at lunch than a Nutella sandwich (this actually happened). Of course, you’ll need to help at first, but soon they will start to understand portion sizes and what makes a balanced meal. Here are a few tips to get the ball rolling:


  1. Help your child pick out a fun lunchbox and little containers for the individual foods. My kids like a bento-style lunch, with lots of little choices, rather than the typical sandwich. You can even get some fun cookie cutters to cut watermelon pieces into stars or make a heart-shaped slice of banana bread.
  2. Take them to the grocery store to help pick out what they want to put in their lunchboxes. You can offer younger kids choices such as grapes or strawberries, pretzels or Goldfish and string cheese or a Babybel. Older kids can come up with meal ideas, and you can help them find the ingredients.
  3. Designate a shelf in your pantry for items that can go into their lunchboxes, such as snacks, fruit cups and crackers. In the fridge, let kids have their own drawer with pre-cut carrots or celery, cooked protein items such a cubed chicken or hard-boiled eggs, and cheese and fruit.
  4. Put a list on the fridge showing what types of items they should be packing daily: a protein, fruit, veggies, a side and the occasional treat. Even if they choose a weird combination of food, let them make their own choices – after all, you don’t have to eat it!
  5. Let them pick out a cool water bottle that they can use at lunch and snack times but also in the classroom. And don’t forget a reusable ice pack, fun, colorful utensils and a thermos, if your child wants to bring soup or leftover red beans and rice!


Christine Harvey is the editor of Nola Family Magazine.