Week 14: Learning Life Skills – Pack a Healthy Lunch!
Most parents I talk to pack their child’s lunch for them. And it makes a lot of sense. Parents want to make sure the lunch is healthy. Mornings are crazy and hectic. Kids (especially young ones) may not be able to do all the things they need to do – like use a knife to cut up an apple, or spread peanut butter, or heat pasta. And it’s just easier to do it yourself!
But there are a ton of great skills that kids can learn by packing their own lunch, and they are skills that will serve them well for the rest of their lives.
With some (ok, a lot) of patience, this stepping stone guide will help you teach your child to pack their own, healthy lunch.
You can start with stage 1 as early as kindergarten. At first, just have them pick 2-3 simple items that they can collect each day and put in their lunchbox. Some ideas are:
- Get out their lunch box or bag
- An ice pack
- A juice box or milk box
- A small dessert item (highly motivating to get them involved)
- A napkin
I started my son out with just putting an ice pack and drink into his lunchbox. He did this every day starting in kindergarten. At this point, I still packed the rest of his lunch for him.
Initially, this one requires some work from you ahead of time, but if you get some fruits, vegetables, and snacks packed into baggies so they’re ready to just grab and go, your child can do the grabbing and going by themselves in the morning.
Here are ideas of things that can be easily packaged into baggies, or grabbed out of the cabinet or fridge:
Have your child grab one fruit, one vegetable, and maybe one snack item and add it to their lunch.
When your child is ready, have them help you create the baggies – they’ll be messy at first, but they can help put pretzels, crackers, carrots, blueberries, etc. into baggies.
Now it’s time to have your child take more ownership over what goes into their lunch. This is a great time for some lessons in nutrition!
With The Trip Clip, you can create a Lunch Box Checklist that’s just right for your family. Talk to your child about balanced meals, and about food categories they may not know about, like proteins, and starches. Then ask them to choose one item from each section to create a healthy lunch. Have them pack the parts they can by themselves, and help them with the rest.
Over time, you can teach your kids the rest of the skills they need to pack a whole lunch by themselves:
- They can heat soup or pasta in the microwave and put it in a thermos
- They can peal a hard-boiled egg
- They can spread peanut butter and jelly onto bread, or cream cheese onto a bagel
- They can use a butter knife to cut cheese chunks
- When they’re ready for a sharper knife, they can even cut up their fruits and vegetables themselves.
Having your kid learn to do all of these things teaches them some incredibly important life skills. These are great steps to helping them know how to take care of themselves, and they will be so proud when they can do it all alone. And you won’t believe the feeling of relief you have when you realize you really don’t have to make a thousand more lunches in your lifetime!