Let’s be honest: getting ready in the morning with kids can be a little chaotic.
Everybody is rushing to get out of bed, brush their teeth, eat breakfast, and get out the door to make it to school on time.
Does this sound like your household?
If it does, don’t worry — you’re not alone. It’s easy to get lost in the crazy shuffle of the morning. During these busy mornings, the last thing you want to do is worry about packing lunches!
As if making sure breakfast and dinner wasn’t challenging enough, you also want to be sure they’re nourishing their bodies while they’re growing their minds. Usually, this means packing a well-thought-out lunch that has all the elements of a nutritious meal.
How to Pack a Good Lunch
Everybody knows lunch is essential. In fact, school lunch makes up between 33-50% of a child’s nutritional intake for an entire day.
This might sound like a lot of pressure, but the key to a good lunch is to stop overthinking. There may be some trial and error when it comes to successfully packing a lunch, but that’s all part of the parenting game.
If you find that meeting your child’s nutritional needs and shopping for lunch is a bit overwhelming, just remember that packing lunches for your kids doesn’t have to be a chore. With the right planning, it can be a simple task — and maybe your kids will even want to help!
If you feel rushed in the morning, or just don’t have the time to pack your kids’ lunch, then check out these lunch packing tips for a smooth-running day, every day.
Tip #1: Make a List
Homemade food tastes way better than from anywhere else, which is why most parents opt to make their kids’ lunches. An easy place to start is with leftovers from the night before — but you’ll eventually want to try something new.
So first thing’s first: before you go grocery shopping, make sure to make a list of “yes” foods for your kids. You must pack foods your kids will eat — not what you wish they would! Your child is more likely to come home with an uneaten lunch box if it’s full of new foods they’re not prone to try.
When shopping, it’s best to follow a simple formula for packing lunch. You only need these elements:
Even if your child is a picky eater, there are so many variations for a simple lunch that you could do. One of the best ways to ensure your child eats their whole lunch is by investing in a bento-style lunch box.
Tip #2: Use a Bento-Style Box
Some of us find it easier to toss a Lunchable into our child’s lunch box. After all, they are cheap, easy, and kids love them! But do they offer the elements of a simple and nutritious meal?
Not so much. Although some Lunchables pack more protein than others, all of them are boxed up and wrapped in plastic. Opening the packages can be a challenge, especially for younger kids who haven’t mastered fine motor skills yet.
Nowadays, many parents are opting for bento-style lunch boxes. They have sections for each part of the meal, which keeps them separate for picky eaters but also very easy to access.
The best part is how simple it is for your child. Once he or she opens the bento box, they can see everything inside. Nothing is hidden or wrapped up, so there’s no reason to miss part of the meal or feel overwhelmed by the amount of food. It’s a sure-fire way to make sure your kids eat all of their lunch.
Tip #3: Pack The Night Before
Packing the night before is probably something you already tell your kids to do: “Pack up your backpack tonight, so there’s less rushing in the morning!”
The same goes for packing lunches. Those few minutes you’re saving in the morning will make all the difference! It is also a great time to get your kids to help be a part of the process.
Tip #4: Get the Kids to Help
Packing lunch the night before is an excellent opportunity for the kids to help. This way, they can choose from the week’s “menu” while also learning responsibility and basic cooking skills at the same time.
While doing so, you can also practice portion sizes for each meal. Some general rules of thumb include:
Keeping this guide handy in your kitchen will help make dividing lunch up much more manageable. This way, you could also keep track of your child’s nutritional intake daily.
Tip #5: Organizing and Labeling Lunchboxes
Like most things, it’s easier to find your child’s lunchbox at the end of the day if there’s a home for it. Whether your child decides to hang it in the mudroom or keep it in their backpack, organization is key!
Labeling is a big part of organizing. As many parents know, labels can be a lifesaver when it comes to multiple children in the household.
By labeling personal items, you don’t have to worry about accidentally mixing up your kids’ belongings (or giving them the wrong lunch!). Labeling your child’s lunchbox is also an excellent way for him or her to practice ownership and responsibility.
When choosing a label, use stickers that complement the color scheme. You can decide to handwrite, print, or laminate the name, but you could also invest in colorful and quality labels. These labels come preprinted, prelaminated, and already sticky so they’re ready as soon as you need them!
With kids in the house, every day can be a little out of control — but packing lunch doesn’t have to be.
Whether or not your kids choose to help, you can speed up the process of lunchmaking by planning, investing in simple lunch boxes, and labeling everything.
This way, your children practice responsibility, have fun picking from the “menu” for that week, and are more likely to eat everything you pack for them!