How to Encourage Kids to Make Lunches

This is a simple and straightforward guide for how to encourage your kids to make their own lunch boxes for school with practical mom tips!

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Making kids’ lunches is a fact of family life. And as crazy as it sounds, your kids can make their own school lunches. As I’ve written before, I believe in kids taking on responsibilities in the kitchen as young as possible. And yes, my kids do make their own lunches.

Adam wrapping sandwich to put in lunchbox

Why is it important for kids to make school lunches?

  1. Builds self-sufficiency.
  2. Fosters planning skills. In Good Housekeeping, Dr. Damon Korb, M.D., author of Raising an Organized Child explains children putting together a lunch are forced to think about what they will be doing that day. Is it a long day? Will they need two snacks? An extra drink?
  3. Educates children about balanced nutrition and food groups.
  4. Helps your kiddos think about healthy eating and what makes them feel good.
  5. Makes your child more likely to finish their lunches. Experts say when children cook food (or put it together) they are more likely to eat it.
  6. Lightens parental load. As they become more proficient, this can take tasks off your list as a parent.
  7. Gives kids a sense of control.
  8. Lets kids feel they are contributing to the household.
Carine putting away lunchbox in fridge

Tips for encouraging kids to make their own lunches

  1. Pack lunch the night before.
  2. Expect this to be a learning process. For a while, you will be showing them what to do.
  3. Talk with your child about her idea about what makes a great kids’ lunch. Some school lunch periods are so short that kids feel rushed. So very easy, munchable foods like turkey-cheese roll-ups might appeal. Or maybe your kid wants to mimic what her best friend packs?
  4. Discuss the various food groups you expect to be represented in the lunch box. The popular bento-type lunch boxes with their separate compartments make it easy to separate and designate food groups – proteins, starches, fruits, and vegetables, etc.
  5. Stock your kid’s lunchbox favorites. Make sure to keep them in child-accessible places in your refrigerator and pantry.
  6. Organize a designated space in the kitchen for the lunch box and any other lunch containers.
  7. Allow room for treats. School is hard and days can be long. There is nothing wrong with letting your child pick some occasional treats to include in their lunch box and/or share with friends.
  8. Use gadgets to make it easier and more fun. My kids love using vegetable peelers, melon ballers, apple cutters, egg slicers, etc. Consider also adding food like olives and grapes to sticks. Everything is more fun on a stick!
Collage of kids preparing ingredients to use to make their lunchboxes

Lunchbox Recipes to try with kids

Knowing how to feed yourself is one of the most elemental parts of self-care. And learning how to pack a lunch is an important step along the way for your kiddos. It’s never too early to start!

Yumna with son (Adam) pointing at lunchboxes

For more cooking resources:

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