Learn Why My Kids Pack Their Own Lunches and what life skills it teaches them. Kids gain so much by giving them a little responsibility.
This post contains affiliate links. Disclosure policy here.
Why My Kids Pack Their Own Lunches
The kids don’t go hungry, but I don’t make their lunches and they don’t buy hot lunch. How can this be? They have a healthy and delicious lunch. Every. Single. Day.
Well, I certainly could do it for them, but since the kids were in 1st grade (they're tweens and teens now), they have made their own lunches and here’s why.
Kids Learn Time Management
Kids don’t always understand the value of budgeting their time. It’s a learned skill.
Having the kids make their lunches teaches them how to make time for the things they need to do, not just want to do. Leaving time in the evening before bed, or budgeting time in the morning before school to make their sandwich is a small task, but it teaches them a lot.
These are lessons they can apply to their homework and to other tasks and jobs later in life.
Kids Learn Responsibility
Responsibility is good for kids. It helps them grow their self esteem and become confident young adults. The responsibility of making their own lunches adds to their knowledge and confidence that they can get things done on their own.
They not only pack their own lunch, but my kids empty their lunch boxes when they get home from school. The kids also are involved in making the shopping list if we’re out of something they like. They are encouraged to add it to the grocery list we keep on our little countertop assistant - our Amazon Echo.
Kids Learn about Nutrition
This is a big one for me. With the prevalence of sugar in just about everything out there including yogurt, flavored drinks and processed food, it’s important for kids to understand what ‘healthy’ means. My kids know a nutritious lunch includes:
A main meal (including protein)
2 fruits or vegetables
A carbohydrate or snack item
Sweets on occasion
They Get What They Like
Every one of our four kids has a preference. One likes sandwiches, one doesn’t. Some like oranges and bananas, the others prefer berries, apples or veggies like cauliflower or peppers.
When the kids pack their own lunches, they get to choose what they like and want to eat that day. This way, I know it’s not going in the classroom trash, but they are actually eating it!
Do you want to know what? One day it happened. The kids started making their lunches without being asked. What a crazy, good moment that was! My son has his routine where he comes home from school, empties his lunchbox from the day and packs it for the next. He realized it’s easier to do it right as he gets home versus forgetting to do it later...and having mom nag him about it. 🙂
Don’t get me wrong, there are days when homework and extra kid stuff gets in the way, and they forget or just don't have time. But for the most part, they know it’s their responsibility and will need to budget time to do it.
To set them up for success, it’s our job to provide healthy options and a variety of food for the kiddos to choose from so they can pack a nutritious lunch.
Other resources to help kids create nutritious lunches include:
Sometimes I run out of ideas, so I pull out my copy of The healthy lunchbox book or The Best Homemade Kids' Lunches on the Planet and get lots of inspiration for what to have on hand to make lunch packing that must easier.
Now, making their lunch is just part of my kids' weekly routine. They like to do the night before, so mornings are less chaotic (I like that part, too). More importantly though, what my kids are gaining by making their own lunches is the chance to grow their confidence and feel more secure in the world….and that’s priceless.
You May Also Like:
Did you enjoy this post? I’d love to connect! Follow me on Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest or become a fan on Facebook! Thanks!
I absolutely love this!!! I think it is soooo important to give our kids independence. My son is only 16 months old, so I don't think he's quite ready to start making his own lunches, haha, but this post has such an AWESOME message. So many kids are absolutely clueless when it comes to time management, and it's mostly because they just haven't had to be responsible for managing their time. Thanks so much for sharing!
Thanks, Savannah. Yes, I think some kids are clueless about time management too. Parents are often being "so nice" and doing things for their kids, they forget the lessons that can be learned by the kids doing it themselves.
You are so right! I love all of your explanations. I feel less crazy 🙂 My 10 and 12 year olds pack their own lunches, although my 10 year old prefers the school lunches. My 12 yr old realized the time management and that she got to pick what she wanted! She's even been an influence for my 4yr old. For preschool, she wanted to pack her lunch like sissy so I let her! I just check it and see if what she packed was okay... And sometimes I would have to swap an item 🙂 great post!
I'm so glad you're giving your kids their independence to make their own lunches, Jeniece. How awesome is it for your 4 year old to learn from her older siblings! Your kids are going to grow up with more than just the know-how of making sandwiches. So exciting!
New reader here. Loved this post! Being a teacher, I see all too often the hovering parents who haven't taught their kids a thing of the "real world". It ends up really hurting them in the end as they grow up. I met many of them in college. 😉
My first grader started making his lunches this year and waking up to an alarm, and it was a life-saver with also having a newborn. It's amazing how even those little minutes over time add up. I always made sure and complimented and thanked him for making his lunch and getting dressed on time. He knew how much it really helped his dad and me!
I have a few friends that are hovering parents or parents that just want to do everything for their kids. That is really nice of them, but like you said how does that prepare them for the "real world". I agree that kids often get to collage and don't really know what they're doing. I hope I pass a few life lessons on to them before they get there 🙂 I'm glad you have a few more minutes now that your 1st grader is helping. I'm sure he feels great about it too!
My kids are just entering their tweens and this sounds like an awesome idea. I really, really dislike packing lunches.
If packing lunches isn't your thing, then this is the perfect idea for you. Plus, they get the responsibility!
Nikki Frank-Hamilton says
This is a great way for them to learn about food and time. My kids did the lunch line, for the most part. They have a great salad bar so Georgia can get a vegetarian lunch that's fresh, and it with the trek from the lunch room to her locker and then back again to her class it didn't work for her to take her own lunch in high school. But when she was in grade school and middle school she did pack, and you have great suggestions for other families to make sure that their kids are getting great nutrition and a lunch they will eat!
Yes, they are getting so responsible about their time and also with nutrition. I love empowering kids so that they grow up with a healthy dose of self esteem.
This is awesome, and it does teach them responsibility! I need to start this with my own kids! 😉 Thanks for sharing at Merry Monday.
Now it's just routine for them. I know they're looking forward to summer so they don't have to do it everyday, but it is so good to teach them responsibility.
Julie Bagamary says
You are a great mom!
I have a friend that has been telling me to do this for years. Her 2nd grader packer her own lunch!!!! can you imagine! I am such a control freak about lunch. I need to stop. I resolve to do so.
Hi Kellie! Kids are sometimes much more capable than we give them credit for. Kids sometimes like to feel "grown up" when given the opportunity with chores. Try it see how it goes! If you give them guidelines, I'm sure they will do great! I know you have some dietary restrictions, so there may be a few more guidelines, but it will take some of the daily pressure off you!
My kids made their own lunches for years too - it was such a relief to let them decide what went into their sandwich etc. They also learned to cook and clean too - when they grew up and left home they could look after themselves - never had to worry about how to prepare food and went on to become amazing adults - that lunch making was just the start 🙂
Erin, this is wonderful! Too many parents do every little thing for their kids, and it really isn't doing them any favors! You are preparing your children for life!
I agree. They have the best intentions, but doing everything for their kids actually robs them of the chance to be independent and grow their self esteem. Life can be hard...I want my kids to be prepared 🙂
YES!! love love love! My kids started making their own lunches in Kindergarten. They actually enjoy doing it, it makes them feel independent, and of course teaches responsibility like you mentioned. I know ppl (adults) who complain or dread making their kids lunches. And they're in high school. Really? I think they could make their own lunch. But, that being said, I believe my mom made our lunches when we were that old too. Sometimes, ya just don't think of it, it's your habit.
P.S. Love the new logo and design! 🙂
I'm not sure my kids enjoy to, but they certainly don't mind. I know, I have several friends who still make their kids lunches and have to plan to let them be independent. I agree that sometimes it's just a habit and it takes someone pointing it out to make a change. Thanks for stopping by, Chellie!
What an amazing idea! My kiddos just finished up the school year, but next year they'll be in kindergarten and second grade. My husband and I have been talking about having packed lunches for them every week-day this summer, along with a pre-determined amount of snacks available for each day to help combat the constant snacking that seems to go on in our house. For the first month or so, I may have them work with us to pack their lunches and portion out their snacks then transition them into packing their own around July. That way it's an ingrained routine before school starts, and I won't have to pack lunches anymore. We can also spend the summer learning how to make new "recipes" so we don't get stuck in the daily pb&j rut. Thank you so much for this post, I'm feeling so inspired!
That's so great to hear, Sarah. That's exactly what I wanted- people to be inspired! We also had to talk to the kids about "portion size" and what that means....especially for a snack. It's very interesting when they read the label and see a portion is not a giant serving. When they have camps and stuff in the summer they pack their lunches, but when we're home, we have a lunch list that helps them pick something easy to make.