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Your Child Can Pack Their Own School Lunch

When my daughter Ayva started elementary school, I did a lot of research on packing school lunches. I was on Pinterest saving bento lunch ideas and sandwiches that looked like butterflies. I spent a ton of time making grocery lists. I’d also walk around the market looking for delicious lunch box fillers that would make her happy. After a year of cleaning out her lunch box and realizing she only really ate half of one thing, I gave up.  

That’s right. I threw in the towel on making my daughter’s lunch because nothing I made seemed to appeal to her. Instead of sending her to school to with food she wouldn’t eat, I decided that making school lunch would be her job. It worked. Every since the first grade (she’s in third now), she’s been making her own lunch every single day.

I’m not sure why more parents don’t make that decision. I mean, when did packing school lunch become our responsibility? Certainly it’s our job to make sure the kitchen is stocked with things that our kids need to pack their lunches. But why not let kids pack their lunches themselves?

Ayva appreciates the chance to make a lunch the way that she likes it, and I am grateful for a break from one parenting task. It’s a win/win! Do you want your child to pack their own lunch? Here are some tips to get you started.

Tips for Kids Packing Their Own School Lunch

Work with your child to set a lunch menu every week.
Just because Ayva makes her own lunch, it doesn’t mean that she has to go at it alone. We sit down and discuss what she wants to eat each day. We also look at the schedule to see if there are any days she doesn’t need to pack lunch, or has to bring extra snacks.

Keep the kitchen stocked with easy to pack food.
Ayva’s lunches are really simple—just how she likes it. She knows to pack a protein, fruit, vegetable, and snack at the minimum. I keep the kitchen stocked with things that she likes and can toss into her lunchbox or pack up easily. Since I’m all about keeping things simple, we get most of her school snacks at CVS.

CVS has a gigantic variety of good-for-you snacks that she loves. The CVS Gold Emblem Abound line has been a lunchbox mainstay for years in our house, and I like that there are always new products so that we can switch things up.

Some of Ayva’s favorites include the Gold Emblem Abound Heavenly Light Popcorn, Gold Emblem Abound Fruit & Veggie Snack Bars, and Gold Emblem Abound Strawberry Crisps. They even have juice boxes and applesauce on the go! I really appreciate being able to skip the busy market and run around the corner to CVS Pharmacy for all of Ayva’s lunch box needs.

Provide appropriate containers.
The one thing that held us up in the morning when Ayva first started making her own lunch was looking for containers to hold the food. I went out and bought a set of containers that could hold her popcorn, fruit, and other goodies and we didn’t have that problem anymore.

Check in on their lunches every once in awhile.
I leave Ayva alone to pack her lunch how she wants to without interfering. Occasionally I’ll check in and see what she’s packing just to make sure she isn’t taking a lunch box full of cookies with her! Once a month or so, I’ll go over the importance of a healthy, balanced lunch with her. Then I leave her to do her thing.

Stay out of their way.
It is Ayva’s responsibility to pack her lunch, so I need to let her pack her lunch. There have been a few times that I saw ways that she could do it easier or more efficiently. Instead of stopping her in the moment, I wait until we’re not in the moment to give her tips. I need her to know that I trust her to do this simple task. She won’t if I’m always hovering and redirecting her actions.

kids pack their own school lunch


Tuesday 26th of September 2017

These are great tips! I used some of these when teaching my daughter to make her own lunch years ago. It pays off in the end that is for sure.

Anitra | The Mom On the Move

Monday 25th of September 2017

I have never packed my kiddos lunches. Not even the one that's off to college. It gives them ownership of their choices and accountability. Forget to pack it? It'll be the first and last time cuz you'll be hungry.

Andrea Signor

Monday 25th of September 2017

Great tips! It's so hard to let go of control, but letting them make these decisions now empowers them in more ways than we can imagine. Also, had no idea that CVS had those kinds of items. I will look into it!


Monday 25th of September 2017

I love the title of this post, i laughed out loud, because seriously kids can pack their own lunches and I really need to get back to having my son do that. I love your tips. The right containers are so important I spent a little more money on containers this year but it has been so worth it.

Tandra - Thriller Mom

Monday 25th of September 2017

I TOTALLY agree with this and allow my oldest daughter to pack her lunches as often as possible. Variety is a huge deal as far as her lunch/snack choices, so I have to make sure she has choices. The child gets bored easily with food! Lol! I haven't tried the CVS snacks you mentioned but they're now on my list. Thanks for the heads up!