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Lunch Packing Guide for Kids


Teach kids how to pack their own healthy balanced lunch while they are young and they will have that habit for life!

When I hear about parents packing their kids lunches I wonder why?  Is it

  • because they want to make sure they get a healthy meal?
  • because their morning is hectic, and parents don’t have time to manage the process?
  • Or is it because you haven’t considered that the kids are completely capable of doing this task, and they might even do it better?

I learned my lesson early in my parenting.  My oldest son traded the ENTIRE lunch I made for him for a single piece of candy! (I believe it was a single candy corn!) ha ha..  At that moment I decided to let them decide what they were going to put in their own lunches, as long as it met my standards of course!   This is the checklist they use to choose from:


  • Mini bagel
  • Pita pocket
  • Wrap
  • Tortilla
  • Bread
  • Roll
  • Hoagie
  • English Muffin
  • Rice
  • Quinoa
  • Pasta
  • French Bread
  • Muffin


  • Peanut Butter
  • Eggs
  • Lunch Meat
  • Seeds
  • Hummus
  • Beans
  • Tuna
  • Almonds
  • Pistachios
  • Cashews
  • Tofu
  • Edamame


  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Cucumbers
  • Peppers
  • Green Beans
  • Snap Peas
  • Sprouts
  • Salsa
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Lettuce
  • Spinach
  • Squash
  • Cabbage


  • Apple
  • Orange
  • Banana
  • Pear
  • Grapes
  • Berries
  • Mango
  • Peaches
  • Melon
  • Apricots
  • Dried Fruit
  • 100% Fruit Leather

To encourage kids to pack their own lunches, I created a printable for them to use when packing. It’s been a GAME CHANGER!  I want them to make healthy choices, on their own, and this chart helps to make it happen. They know they have to choose one thing from each food group to “pass inspection!”  We have printed and reprinted this to hang inside our pantry door. We also have baskets where they can find different these exact foods to pack.

Each lunch, they need to choose a grain, protein, vegetable, and a fruit.  They refer to it for ideas, and then make their lunch.  This is the best way to avoid the problem of packing 3 granola bars and nothing else, or forgetting a veggie.

Anything that will get the kids involved in the process of making their own lunch is going to give them kitchen skills they need and ownership over what they choose to bring to school.

Packable Lunch Ideas

Sometimes all you need is an idea to get going. And sometimes you really need to look at a photo of an idea to help get your kids on board! We have put together 90 Packable Lunch Ideas with photos for you! And if you just want straight up ideas of what to pack, check out this post with 50 Packable School Lunch ideas.

Whatever you choose to have on hand for your kids to pack their lunches with, make sure it’s THEM packing the lunches, and not you!


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This is wonderful!!! Any chance this could be created in Spanish? I am a teacher and we have some niños who are coming to school with just a fruit or chips or cookies.
: (

I did something similar for my boys, who were required (by me, the meanest mom ever!) to start making their own lunches in kindergarten. In our house you are required to have 4 parts to your lunch:
1. Fruit or Veggie
2. Entree… this could be a sandwich, leftovers, crackers and pepperoni, etc.
3. Snack (typically pretzels, chips, or a granola bar)
4. Beverage – almost always milk, although once in a while we’ll have a juice box around as a treat

Giving them these parameters helped them and now, a few years later, lunch making has become a breeze.

Printables like this, especially with examples, are so incredibly helpful for kids and really enable them to become more independent. Which is better for them and for mom… everybody wins! Love it!

I love the idea of making my kids independent and part of the preparation of their meals! They have the “meanest mom” because we always eat healthy stuff but I’ve made them help in the meal preparation more and more and it seems to be working. I still prepare their school lunch. I love the idea of the checklist and having to pass inspection! Thank you!

If I am allowed, I’d like to share the cooking appliance I bought (Thermomix) which has made it possible to have a 3 and a 6 year old prepare a healthy meal for the family once a week each kid. They choose the recipe, I give them the ingredients, help with the raw meats and They follow the instructions of the thermomix letting them do the rest.