This Is What Happened When I Had My Kids Pack Their Own School Lunches

Yes, My Kids Pack Their Own School Lunches

Summer has just flown by, and the back to school season is upon us.ย And back to school means back to school lunches.

I used to dread packing my kids lunches. Mostly because my girls just didn’t eat them. I spent a lot of time searching Pinterest for lunch ideas to keep things fresh and fun – all while using foods they already ate at home on a regular basis. But it didn’t seem to matter what I put into their lunches, over half off it came home.

I was concerned that they weren’t getting the nutrients that they needed during a busy school day, and I was a little annoyed with how much food was being thrown out every week.

One night after opening up both my girls lunch pails and finding almost all the food still in there, I called them to the kitchen.

That night it was decided that for now on they would be packing their own lunches – approved by either their dad or myself. I gave them categories on what food groups we needed to see in the lunch pails – milk product, grain product, a fruit, a veggie, and a ‘treat’. Of course we were there to help with the knife cutting, jar opening, leftover warming side of packing lunches. But they got the main say.

Having my girls pack their own lunches also taught them a great life skill, and opened up a great dialect about healthy eating and taking care of our bodies.ย And, most important, they were actually eating their lunches. <insert happy mom dance here>

They still used the fancy containers and asked to have their sandwiches cut into a heart shape. I still sneaked little notes in their lunch pails too. We still had a lot of fun with making lunches. It was just them taking the lead.

I know some will think that me having my girls pack their own lunches is just me being lazy. And I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t enjoy not stressing over and fussing over my kids lunches. But, like I said above, this task still required help from my husband or I. It’s not like we were just relaxing on the couch while our 4 year old cut her own bagel and our 8 year old tossed a box of cookies in her lunch pail. We most defiantly applied parenting common sense.

It worked for our family last year and we will be doing it again this year.

Yep, that’s right. This year you won’t find me stressing over what to put in my kids lunches so they actually eat them. My kids will be taking he lead on packing their own lunches again.

Some back to school lunch ideas:



  1. kristen visser says:

    what a great idea to have your kids pick and pack their own lunches. Then you know they will actually eat their food instead of having to toss some of it or it coming home. My oldest daughter is going into SK. She is autistic and VERY picky. So I know what she likes and packs things I know she will eat. same day it is always the same thing. cheese, keilbasa, apples, grapes and oranges. At least i know it is easy to eat and no mess ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Heather says:

    I have had my kids take the responsibility of making their own lunches – there is a criteria – I believe it is a good life skill!

  3. Chantel says:

    I completely get where you are coming from I started letting my daughter make her own lunch in SK because she wasn’t eating her food and I talked with her and she said she wanted to make it herself so now even her brother makes his own lunch but they enjoy it makes them feel independent and in a way in charge of what they eat

  4. Laurie P says:

    My kiddo loves to participate in selecting and purchasing her lunch items, especially the produce as she can try new things here and there!

  5. Louise says:

    This is definitely a good idea! I take it you have seen a huge improvement in the lack of leftover food that comes home! Do they still enjoy doing it? The novelty hasn’t worn off yet?

  6. Lorna says:

    My daughter is only three and I enjoy making her lunch for nursery school. So far. She is better at eating stuff she ‘makes’ herself, though. I can see us doing this in the future.

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