Take 1 Thing Off Your To-Do List! Here's How to Help Your Kid Pack Their Own Lunch

If you are still recovering from the burnout of packing lunches, why not let your kid take the reins and pack their own lunch this year? Maybe you've been hesitant to hand over the responsibility out of fear they'll leave the house with a ketchup sandwich and jelly beans each morning, but there are actually a few things you can do to set your child up for lunch-packing success.

Having the right containers, storing things where kids can reach them, and putting a few guidelines in place for what they should be packing can get lunch off your to-do list and teach your kids about responsibility. Study up on these 10 tips before school starts so you'll be ready for an A+ year.

Use a Bento Box

Bento-style lunch boxes are supercute, but they are also a handy tool for helping your kids determine how much of which foods to pack. With multiple compartments, you can guide them on which types of foods should go in each spot (like a fruit, veggie, protein, and snack) and then let them choose their favorites.

Stock a Snack Bin

Lunch isn't complete without a snack! To give your kid some autonomy, put together a bin of preapproved snacks (granola bars, crackers, and fruit squeezes all work here) and let them choose one or two to take with them each day.

Make a Lunchbox Checklist

This is one way to add a little fun to lunchtime. Tell your kiddo that lunch is like a puzzle, and they need to find all the parts of the puzzle to make a complete meal. Keep a chart with a list of fruits, vegetables, main dishes (like a sandwich or cheese and crackers), and snacks on the fridge and charge your child with picking and packing one item from each list every day.

Write a Sandwich Story

A tip I learned from a fellow mom: create a sandwich story with your child. In the story, walk through the steps for building a sandwich. Then, when it's time for your child to make their own sandwich, they could use what they remember from the story to make sure they include all of the necessary ingredients. Any time you can make everyday tasks fun is a big win in my book!

Start Small

If you are ready for your kid to start making their own lunch, but aren't sure they are quite ready for the five-day-a-week responsibility, ease them into it instead. Choose one or two days a week where they make their own lunch and then slowly increase the number of days once you feel they've got the hang of it.

Stock Up on Small Containers

Small storage containers are perfect for small portion sizes. When you have a variety of pint-sized containers for your kid to pick from, no matter which foods they pack, they won't be getting too much of any one thing — no lunchbox full of cookies, here!

Store Lunch Items on Low Shelves

This might seem obvious, but most of us have been asked to reach things for our kids more times than we can count. Make it easier for them by storing items they might pack for lunch on low shelves in the fridge and pantry.

Wash and Cut Veggies Ahead of Time

Once you've filled the crisper with carrot sticks, berries, and bell peppers, go ahead and give them a rinse and a chop before the school week starts. To avoid moldy berries, wash in one part vinegar to three parts water and let dry completely before putting them back in the refrigerator. Having everything ready to go will make the packing process go much quicker.

Utilize Single-Serve Items

Buying in bulk is great when you can swing it because it produces less waste, but for kids who are trying to pack their own lunch, a few single-serve items can save the day. A peanut butter packet for apple dipping or a cheese stick mean less time (and fewer messes!) packing lunch on busy mornings.

Let It Go

If you make the choice to let your kids make their own lunch, you have to be ready to give up some amount of control over what they pack. As long as you are making lots of healthy options available, try not to freak out if their sweet tooth takes over and they throw in a few jelly beans every day. It's all going to be OK!