Packed Lunch Ideas for Kids That Empower and Educate

By Ashley Ess in Healthy Feeling

We've all been there as parents: you get up early to help get the kids ready for school, prepare breakfast, and pack healthy school lunches, but when you peek in the lunchbox again after school you're greeted by a pile of uneaten food. When you ask about the meal you packed, are you met with a disappointed grumble? What's a parent to do? How do you come up with healthy packed lunch ideas for kids that they'll actually eat? Invite your children to have a say about what goes in their lunches. You may be surprised at the life skills they learn when they take on this responsibility.

Give Kids the Power of Choice

Sometimes it may seem easier to simply pack your kids' lunches yourself. After all, you've got the routine down by now! But there are benefits to allowing your kids to pack their own lunches. A child who makes their own lunch is more motivated to eat it, according to parenting advice site Ask Dr. Sears. School-aged children benefit from being taught how to be responsible in the kitchen, and their new culinary independence will set them up for success and personal responsibility throughout their lives.

Empowered children are also confident children, notes Psychology Today. Support them by showing them you know they are capable of making healthy choices, and demonstrate your trust in them by giving them the space to figure out their new responsibilities. Even if they go rogue, one day of only chocolate and cheese puffs to eat should convince them to plan a little better. Handing over the lunch-making responsibilities to your kids subtly teaches them you understand their need for autonomy and will help build their self-esteem.

kids slicing bread

Involving Kids in a Healthy (and Easy) Lunch

Check out these empowering packed lunch ideas for kids that will foster an appreciation for healthy eating, introduce them to personal responsibility, and celebrate their self-confidence.

  • Have your child choose their own lunch box and containers. A special shopping trip in anticipation of a new lunch routine that is truly their own really helps get kids excited about their new venture.
  • Guide kids by making a list of food options to choose from, with a variety of items divided into categories (protein, vegetables, fruits, grains, etc.). Help them select easy, kid-friendly recipes they can make on their own (or with a little guidance).
  • Sit down as a family and talk about why it's so important to pack healthy foods. Explain how things like sugar and white bread provide only a quick burst of energy, while proteins, leafy greens, and healthy fats will power them through the day. Brainstorm healthy foods and tasty alternatives to unhealthy choices together.
  • Encourage your child by reminding them how capable they are of making good choices and packing their own lunch. This is the perfect opportunity for you to step back and watch the beauty of your child's growth.
  • Come up with a goal together for what time kids should be in the kitchen and ready to pack their lunches in the morning. You can set a timer or alarm, or simply give older children the chance to check the clock while they get dressed. This is a good lesson in responsibility. Knowing that they are in charge of something important gives them a good, healthy challenge.
  • Add a fun element of surprise by slipping in a special treat that will bring your kiddos joy at school. This can be a yummy dessert, a sticker, or even a special love note.

What are some of your favorite recipes and easy lunch ideas for kids? Do you have ideas for getting your children to make their own lunches? Share with us on Twitter!

Image source: Flickr | Flickr

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Why It’s Good

When children are involved in making their own school lunches, they learn not only an appreciation for healthy food but they become empowered, as well.