How to Teach Your Kids to Pack Their Own Lunches

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You've got a never-ending to-do list, and your kids are seeking a bit of independence - encouraging them to make their own packed lunch is the perfect solution. It's easy to get into the groove of doing everything for the kids; cleaning their rooms, folding their laundry, cooking and clearing up after every meal, but if you want to raise independent, confident kids you need to let go of the odd task! Their school packed lunches are a great place to start: it gives you the opportunity to teach them about healthy eating, lets them enjoy the creativity and responsibility of making their own lunch, helps build confidence - and takes one job off your list. With a little guidance and encouragement, they will soon be happily packing healthy, balanced lunches that they'll look forward to eating, and you can feel proud of their growing independence!

1. Start them young

Even if you feel your little ones aren't quite ready to make their own lunches, get them to help you. Ask them to pass you things from the fridge, to select a piece of fruit from the bowl, to help you spread any butter or mayonnaise, and even to help during the clean-up. Let them squirt a few drops of Joy Dishwashing Liquid (just a few, as a little goes a long way tackling grease and grime on plates) into the sink when it comes to the washing-up!


2. Teach them the basics

Depending on how young they are, you might need to sit down and have a chat about this new responsibility. Explain that you feel they're getting more grown-up and you think they are ready to take charge of lunch packing. Talk about the benefits - including they can have more choice about what they eat each day! Then describe what a healthy lunch consists of: wholegrain bread, bagel or wrap with some protein and veg in the filling (chicken, egg, or nut butter; lettuce, tomato or cucumber), a piece of fruit, a yoghurt, a healthy snack like carrot sticks or a piece of cheese - all finished off with a drink of water or diluted juice. And, of course, one little treat!


3. Oversee the process

If your kids have never helped in the kitchen before, they'll obviously need to be shown everything from how to make sandwiches and how much cheese to grate, to how to put lids on properly - and once you run through it all be sure to step back and let them take the lead. They'll gain confidence and understanding the more they get to do by themselves.

Let them get involved from the beginning

Sit down together and talk about their favorite foods, then make a shopping list of tasty sandwich fillings, favorite fruits and veggies, also snacks like crackers, raisins and air-popped popcorn. Head to the grocery store together to buy the ingredients and let them pick out a new lunchbox - this will help them get excited about the prospect of this new task. Before hitting the store, read about how to get your kids to eat healthy snacks for more inspiration.


5. Set them up for success

Encourage the kids to help you put the groceries away when you get home, and give them a space in a cupboard and the fridge that is solely for their lunch ingredients - then they can easily find everything they might need. Tape up an easy-to-follow list next to this space (with drawings if you're artistic!) of what needs to go into each lunch so they don't turn up at school with three chocolate bars and two bags of potato chips!


6. Give them options

If your child is desperate for only sweet or savory snacks and shuns the healthy elements, suggest an alternative like crackers or oatcakes with hummus or cream cheese over potato chips. Buy different types of bread from whole meal wraps and bagels to rolls to keep it interesting. Healthy meals for kids don't have to be dull! And remind them to keep watery veggies outside the bread. Cherry tomatoes and sliced cucumber are both healthy snacks, but they can make a sandwich horribly soggy, putting your child off both their lunch and their newfound responsibility.

Make a plan

Decide between you when the best time is for them to rustle up their lunch. If they're an early riser they can make it before school, if they're always rushing around first thing, it's smart to agree they'll make it the night before.


What are your kids' favorite lunchbox fillers that you wholeheartedly approve of? Are they picky eaters? How do you cope with that? Share your ideas below in the comments section.

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