Healthy Habit Goal #3, Pack a healthy school lunch

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Last year I stopped sending lunch boxes to school  After getting a lunch box with moldy bread and a rotting apple, two weeks (or longer) after it was sent to school, we started using brown bags only! The new problem: with literally 10 minutes to eat their lunch before they are herded out to recesses, the majority of the lunch, bag included, ends up in the garbage.

lunch box

Problem number 2:  My son has traded an entire bag of carrots for ONE measly M&M. Trading is big business at the elementary school.

My solution: They pack their own lunches.  Do not underestimate your children.  From Kindergarten up, they can pack their own lunch.  The earlier they learn this skill, the easier your own life is going to be. And for the record: I had all my kids doing this even before they entered school.  Last year, with a kindergartner who did not eat lunch at school, he would pack his lunch with the rest of the kids so I wouldn’t have to get the lunch stuff out twice.

The kids must pick one item from each category.  We have a list inside the pantry that looks like this:

Fruit or Fruit Juice:   Apple, applesauce, orange, 100% fruit leather, fruit cup, 100% fruit juice boxes, grapes, strawberries, etc.

Vegetables: Bag of carrots, sliced celery, peppers, cucumbers, fresh peas or beans.

High Fiber Grains: Whole wheat bread for sandwich, granola bar, cereal, cold pasta, cold rice, soup.

High protein food:Nuts, hard-boiled egg, meat for your sandwich, peanut butter for your sandwich (or dipping).

Non-fat dairy: Yogurt, string cheese, milk.

You can either just put these lists up with pictures, or words and let them pack their own… OR you could separate all the appropriate food into baskets once a week for them to portion out each day on their own for lunch.  BUT give the kids ownership. When they pack their own lunch, they are less likely to trade away their food, and more likely to eat it.

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8 Comments

Great idea to have them pack their own lunch! And on a side rant…10 min for lunch?!? That’s insane. No wonder kids turn to junk and are fighting obesity these days. Not the only reason, I know, but it’s definitely NOT a good thing that they have to woof down their food. Love that our schools are teaching our kids such wonderful eating habits (sarcasm). We’ll face lunch at school for the first time this year. I’ve already been told by other moms to warn Ben to eat his lunch fast. Sigh…

Don’t forget those mini-bagels! I got that idea off your blog, I think. I was excited to see that Sara Lee makes lots of different kinds of the minis, now, instead of just white. One or two of them seem perfect for a 10 minute lunch, plus they don’t smash as easy as a sandwich.

LOVE this! My 4-year-old gets a huge thrill out of making his own sandwich. Sometimes, he’ll wake up early in the morning, and I’ll hear him getting into the fridge. When I come down, he’s in the process of making a sandwich! For breakast! Hmm… But, like you said, it’s the ownership, the independence. I am so using this idea this year in preparation for school in the future!

Cathy, our kids really do have ten minutes. We are shoveling 1100 students through a teeny tiny lunch room within 90 minutes, and it makes for a quick lunch. Then the kids are anxious to get to recess too, which makes them hurry also.
Amber; I did do this when my kids were NOT in school. I loved having a lunch packed in the morning and not fixing food in the middle of the day!!
Emily- I forgot !! That is my best tip. Using something OTHER than sliced bread goes over VERY WELL with my kids. Mini-bagels, dinner rolls etc.
Angee- they do love to be independent, and that means you are doing a great job as a mom!