Getting your kids in the kitchen to prep lunch for the week can actually make packing lunches less chorey and more cheery. Letting kids pack their own lunches increases independence, raises confidence, and instills wholesome eating patterns that will serve them well long after graduation day. Plus, it takes at least one thing off your plate, which is definitely something to celebrate. Here are a few simple tips to get everyone aboard the lunch-packing train.
Involve them in the shopping: Who knew your kid wanted to try raw spiralized kohlrabi this week? Letting your kids see, touch, smell, and even taste ingredients at the grocery store is a great way to get them pumped for lunchtime and lunch packing.
Pack the night before: “I had so much time this morning,” said nobody ever. Help future you out, and have your kids pack the next day’s lunches before they brush their teeth the night before. Those extra 15 minutes may well save your sanity the next day.
Lunch stations: Set up your kids for success by prepping all the supplies they need to make lunch. Set lunch food on shelves kids can reach, designate a cabinet specifically for lunchboxes and other water bottles, have ice packs cooled and ready, and watch your kids make their own lunches in a snap.
The prep step: When fruit is washed, veggies are chopped, cheese is cubed, and eggs are already hard-boiled, packing lunch is less a chore and more a delightful game.
Embrace the weird: My son once dipped his peanut butter and jelly sandwich in ranch dressing. He loved it. I gagged silently. But independence means sometimes letting kids make leftover-lo-mein-and-tuna-fish sandwiches.
Meal-plan together: Once a week, make a plan for school lunches that encompasses all the lunch options or menus for the week. Write it down and put it on the fridge. When it comes time to pack, just follow the plan.
Set some guidelines: Because life is more than just strawberry yogurt and mini chocolate bars. Make a list of categories (fruit, veggie, main course, treat, snack), and let your kids decide which items from each column go in the lunchbox each day. While you’re at it, be sure you oversee at least the first few days of lunch packing in case your kids feel overwhelmed by their new responsibility or think it’s the perfect time to have an all-candy eating fest.