Packing lunches is always a pain point, even as an adult. Starting your kids early and creating a system so they can pack their own and make the executive decisions on what they are consuming at lunch will give them confidence, while teaching responsibility and reduce complaining – you know what we're talking about. When you've packed their lunch in a rush and not quite hit the nail on the head, they certainly let you know it!
Obviously, it's a process, and offering them as much help as they need in the beginning is necessary. But eventually, it will lessen your load and give you back a few minutes in the evening to focus and prep for your own schedule the next day. Plus, it provides your kids with transferable skills that will come in handy later on in life.
Here is a guide to help get your kids rolling up their sleeves in the kitchen and slide into a routine of preparing and packing their lunches every evening.
Start with a Formula
Sitting them down and going through the basics might need to happen more than once, but try to make it as simple (and fun) as possible. Start by writing down a formula on your whiteboard so they can access it and easily create a well-balanced meal. The one we usually stick to is as follows: 1 protein food + 1 starchy food + 2 other food choices + water/a juice box. Printing out and referring to Canada's Food Guide is also a good way to give your kids a visual guide when getting started.
Use a Bento Box
No more messy Tupperware drawers and lost lids! A Bento Box separates all the food items and is easy to pack in a variety of small and large compartments. The kids might need your help, in the beginning, figuring out the trick to fitting it all in, but they will likely develop their own system after a while.
Go Grocery Shopping Together
Empower your kids to choose what they want for the week, and allow them to select new options! They might want to switch up flavours, spice levels, and snacks, or choose to stick to their favourite stand-bys. Regardless, this helps to get them involved in the process and take responsibility for their diet. It also works to eliminate food waste, because they will be getting exactly what their little tummies are craving (with some guided suggestions of course).
The younger your kids are, the more you may need to be involved in the preparation process. From cutting up veggies, hard-boiling eggs, and chopping up cooked proteins, you want to make sure they get in the habit of getting everything ready to go. As they get older, kids can begin to do all of this themselves, but ensuring kitchen safety with your littles is important – don't leave them stranded with more than they're ready for.
Provide Ideas for Healthy Alternatives
We recommend subtle hints but avoid micromanaging – even though you might want too. The more you nag and comment on their process, the more they will see this as a dreaded chore and less of a pursuit of independence. Focus on ensuring they know how to create a well-balanced meal, complete with all the nutrients they need in their day. Lunches don't need to be perfect, just something they can look forward to and be proud of.
Include a Treat
Having their favourite treat on hand to include in their lunch will complete the meal and make it more exciting when they open it up the next day.
Don't Force Feed + Release Expectations
Remember, this is a process for both you and your kids. The most important thing is that they learn balance and understand what their appetites crave. If they prepare an odd combination or get sick of a particular item because they've eaten it for a week straight, they'll learn to start switching it up. Plus, they can't complain, because you didn't pack it! With a little patience and support, your kids will be packing their lunch like a pro in no time.
Contact us at to pre-order, stock up from our meat shop in Calgary or Rosemary, or find us at the Calgary Farmers' Market and give your kids the resources they need to pack an A+ lunch each and every day!