I recall opening up my Holly Hobby lunchbox in the school cafeteria and thinking, “Oh man, I really wanted bologna and cheese today instead of this!” So I told me mom that I’d really like to start making my own lunch – if that was okay with her! “What a GREAT idea!” she said without the slightest hesitation. Little did I know that I was letting us both off of the hook!
When my kids started school, I quickly learned why my mom jumped on that suggestion: How do I know what each one of them is in the mood for AND one less thing to do on hectic school/work mornings sounds fabulous to me.
Here’s how I have made this practice successful in my household:
- Plan weekly meals – The only way I’ve found this to work smoothly points back to my meal planning mantra – Take 15-20 minutes to plan the weeks’ meals (including lunch and snacks), create a shopping list, hit the grocery store and you’re set.
- Shop with a mission – I get supplies to make 5 main lunches. For example, I get turkey and low-fat cheese, peanut butter & jelly on whole wheat, etc. plus fruit/veggies and the healthiest snacks I can find.
- Prep and Portion Foods – Wash, cut and ration out fruits and veggies into small containers ahead of time. Put other healthy snacks such as pretzels, peanuts, whole wheat crackers, etc. into baggies and store together in pantry. This will save time and offer healthy selections for the kids.
- Schedule lunch prep times – Set a time each evening that each child can quickly put their lunch together. This will eliminate any potential kitchen bickering sessions between kids.
- Follow up – Check the lunches to ensure they are in fact creating healthy and balanced meals! When I see that they are doing a good job, I feel good knowing they are making healthy choices for themselves!
Since I decide which meal I’m going to make for dinner (often based on what I feel like making/eating!), they get the chance to decide what they feel like having for lunch AND they learn to be self-sufficient. Win-win, I say!