How to Involve your Kids in Planning Packed Lunches They’ll Eat

If you are charged with the task of packing lunches for kids, then you know the process can be frustrating. Getting kids to answer the “what do you want to eat tomorrow” question is complicated by the limited options you may have on hand as well as what you can easily pack. The frustration only worsens when they return home with most of what you packed…uneaten.

As with other things that directly involve your kids, including them in the planning is likely to eliminate some of the frustration. Not only will their input help you pack lunches your kids are actually excited about, you will waste less food (and money).

Quinoa Granola
Quinoa Granola is a great bento box option for kids.

Begin with the right ask.

It’s been a long day. Activities and other responsibilities are done and they are almost ready for bed. But, wait…you need to know NOW what they want to eat in twenty hours…yeah, that’s not going to go so well. Instead, try to bring it up over the weekend and come up with a few ideas. Not only will this likely streamline your shopping, it will also result in a better answer and allow you to prepare. Then, on a busy weeknight the question becomes, “Do you want your Quinoa Granola with yogurt or would you prefer the BLT Pasta Salad you said you wanted this week?” (Note: Tailor the suggestions to ensure it is easy for you. For example, if it is going to be BLT pasta then make pasta for dinner and save some for lunch or plan to make more than one lunch at a time with it.)

Get the scoop on their disapproval.

You made your son a turkey and cheese sandwich on Sunday and he gobbled it up….so you made it for lunch on Tuesday and he brought it home barely touched. What happened? Was the bread soggy? Was it “weird” with cold bread from the lunch bag? Would he have preferred smaller slices and crackers to create “stackers”? Find out what went wrong so that you don’t need to eliminate a good option altogether, but maybe just modify it to make it more appealing.

Let kids make the menu.

There are so many lessons that can be taught through the kitchen, including reading, math and more. Introduce your kids to great recipes and websites just for them and engage them in the process of bringing them to life while also creating the shopping list, calculating ingredients needed and planning a menu.

Make time for a “kids cook” weekend.

Fruit salsa, peanut butter bumps and trail mix are just some of the recipes your kids can make over the weekend to enjoy during the week. Once prepared, store in small reusable bags and containers and quickly grab them as you need.

Know your kids.

Lastly, and very importantly, know your kids. If you never see them eat a sandwich, then don’t pack one. If they hate peanut butter then pass on it. If they tend to prefer grazing, consider using a bento box so you can pack an array of individual items. Be sure to keep their preferences in mind and you will be more successful at packing successful lunches and reducing the amount that is wasted.

Do you have other ideas and tips for packing lunches kids will actually eat? Share them with us!