Over the past few weeks, I have shared Tips for Starting the School Day Off Right and Tips for Packing a Healthy Lunch That Your Kids Will Actually Eat, and today I want to talk about school lunches and how you can teach your kids to pack their own! Can you imagine being able to knock that off of your list of things to do? Here’s the thing…the more we teach our kids to do, the more confident and independent they will become. If you simply take around 30 minutes on a Sunday to prep for the week, your kids will be able to put their lunches together for each day of the week with ease. They can even help you with the prep.
I covered some of the steps you can make to plan a menu and help your kids plan their healthy lunches HERE. Once you’ve tackled that easy task, it’s time to make lunch packing easy for them.
Start by prepping your fruits and vegetables ahead of time. Wash your fruits and vegetables well, so that step doesn’t have to be tackled at lunch packing time. A great tip for making berries last longer is to wash them in a mixture of 4 cups of water and 1/2 cup of distilled white vinegar. I promise, you won’t be able to taste the vinegar, but the berries will keep from molding quickly.
Once your fruits and veggies are all clean, pre portion them into small baggies or containers, and store them in a bin together. This way your kids can go to one place in your refrigerator to get them. The idea is for them to choose two options from the fruit and veggie bin. I usually ask my kids to choose two different colors so that they are getting different vitamins. We also pre portion out lettuce slices and chopped lettuce for quick salad and sandwich kit making.
Keep meats and proteins in one place and ready to use! One of the things I do is buy a rotisserie chicken each Sunday. I shred half of it and slice half of it. This way it is ready to use for salads, sandwiches and wraps. I also boil some eggs for salads or just to have as a protein option as well. If your kids prefer lunch meat, just make sure the meats are in containers that your kids can easily open and close. I love the containers with locking lids for this…they are easy for kids to open and close, so food doesn’t spoil. Your kids can easily grab a container and put together one of my quick lunch ideas like chicken tacos meal kit seen HERE!
You can find the containers with locking lids HERE!
We do buy some pre-packaged foods like guacamole and hummus at Costco. We also like to buy yogurt and dried fruits like apples, coconut chips and mango to switch things up a bit. You can leave them in their containers or buy the larger containers and add some to a small, lidded bowl with some tortilla chips or pita chips.
Organize your refrigerator so that your kids know where to find everything. Having a spot for everything really helps kids stay focused when packing their lunches.
Finally, have your kids pack their own water! It’s so important for kids to stay hydrated and develop a love for water at an early age. I have to be honest, I have never loved water, and had to force myself to start drinking it instead of sodas. I felt so much better after ditching diet sodas for water. I never gave my kids fruit juices when they were kids, in hopes that they would become water drinkers, and thankfully they did. Now that they are older, they enjoy sodas here and there, but mostly, they drink water, which makes me happy!
I hope these tips encourage you to teach your kids how to pack their own lunches and get excited about what they are eating. They have really helped us break away from all of the sugar filled, processed foods that they used to pack, and they actually get excited about putting their lunches together themselves!