(+ free lunch list printable for kids and prize!)
This post was written in partnership with my friends at Made With Local. As usual, all opinions are my own! Make sure to leave a comment or question below to be entered to win a free case of Real Food Bar Mix!
It’s almost back to school time and this year I have not one…not two…but THREE kids in school! Seriously. When did that happen?! Thankfully, only two of them need school lunches packed every day. But in reality – that’s still ten lunches packed every week! Yikes!
And as fun as packing school lunches can be (note my sarcasm), as a registered dietitian I know how important a balanced lunch is for my kids. It’s also important to give your kids a chance to explore the kitchen, be brave with their food choices, and feel a little bit of control over their food selection. Because, the more you involve your kids (especially picky eaters) in the kitchen, the more likely they are to actually eat their food! And we all want our kids to eat their lunch at school!
So, this year we are trying something new when it comes to school lunches…
I’m passing on the lunch-packing torch to my kids. That’s right! I have decided to teach my kids to pack their own lunches. And I’m about to share the three things you need to know in order to get your kids packing their own school lunches too. Let’s get started!
1. Get Your Kids Excited About It
The trick is to make sure your kids don’t consider school lunch packing as a chore. They might groan at the thought of packing their own lunches to start, so make it FUN. Explain that although it may feel like work, it’s actually a great opportunity for them to pick their OWN foods to eat. Awesome right? This will make them feel more in control and increase the chances of them actually eating it! No more uneaten and mushy bananas please!
2. Get Organized!
You’ll want some handy lunchbox accessories. I love bento style lunch boxes because they come with a few different sizes of container, which means lots of options for food choices! Think of your kids lunch as a buffet. The more variety they have, the more they will eat! Also make sure you have an insulated zip-up lunch kit, utensils, and ice packs! You don’t need anything fancy, but you do need to make sure your kid can open their lunch. So feel free to practice at home!
To help your kids pack their own lunches you’ll also want to make sure your kitchen is organized and stocked with nutritious, easy, school-safe options. You will want to fill big containers with all of the approved lunch box items. In my household, I like to have containers filled with cut-up fruits and veggies ready to go!
Fruit (pack at least one)
- Apple slices with sprinkled cinnamon on top
Veggie (pack at least one)
- Snap peas
- Radishes are on one of my kids favourites
Protein-rich food (pack at least two)
- Greek yogurt
- Hardboiled eggs
- Leftover cut-up meat
- Dried chickpeas
Whole grain (pack at least one)
- Whole grain crackers
- Nutritious energy balls
- Nutritious whole grain bars – our favourites are Real Food Bars by Made with Local! To make your own, use MWL’s Real Food Bar Mix and just add honey and a seed butter! You can order online from the Made With Local website or Well.ca! And their pre-made Real Food Bars (perfect for a quick on-the-go breakfast or after school snack!) are now available in Western Canada at Real Canadian Superstore, Safeway, and Sobeys! Check out my favourite and super easy lunchbox recipes for some yummy inspiration.
3. Be Food Safe
It’s important that you and your kids practice basic food safety to avoid spoiled lunches.
Keeping food at the right temperature is crucial for food safety (and enjoyment!). This means keeping hot foods hot, and cold foods cold. I suggest making lunches the night before, sticking them in the fridge and then adding an ice pack the next morning! For hot foods, prep a thermos by adding boiling water, then simply heat your foods to piping hot, dump the hot water, and then add your food!
It’s also important for your kids to keep their lunch containers clean and safe! This means emptying and washing out their lunch box and kit each day before repacking for the next! Use hot water and soap and thoroughly dry!
Don’t forget to download your lunch-packing list printable and stick it on your fridge!
And don’t forget to leave a comment or question below to be entered to win a free case of Real Food Bar Mix!
And for more tips on packing school lunches, check out these posts:
- Top 5 School Lunch Essentials to Make Your Life Easier
- 50 Easy Nutritious School Lunch Recipes
- Easy Step-by-Step Guide to Packing School Lunches