What’s the best lunch option?

I used to make lunches for my kids. I would get up early to cook a healthy breakfast and then I would pack lunches. I always packed the same basic ingredients (just like my father had done for me); a sandwich, a snack, a fruit and treat. If I was really on the ball, I would even write them a cute note on a napkin that said something like; “have a great day,” or “you are my favorite third grader,” or “good luck on your test today.” I felt like a great mom, because I was making them breakfast and sending them off to school with a healthy lunch.

Every now and then, my kids would complain that they never ate “hot lunch” like the other kids. I decided to print out the lunch menu, and let them pick the school lunches they wanted. I didn’t feel like the school lunches were as healthy as my homemade lunches (corn dogs vs. homemade wheat bread sandwiches), so I limited their school lunches to once a week. I felt like it was a healthy compromise. If the lunch was really good, sometimes I even went and ate lunch with them.

Everything seemed to be going well, until I noticed that my kids sometimes came home starving. I checked their lunch boxes and noticed that they didn’t eat all of their food. They told me that they didn’t always like the things that I put in their lunches, so they didn’t eat it.

I had to come up with a new plan. I already felt overwhelmed in the mornings, so I decided to put my kids in charge of making their own lunches. It didn’t seem fair for my younger children to have so much responsibility, so I put the older children in charge of making lunches for the younger ones. It turned out to be a brilliant idea. Not only did it free up a portion of my morning duties, but I inadvertently taught my children work, sacrifice and customer service. The child in charge of making lunches had to listen to the opinions of his siblings, and had to work to find a solution (“I hate tuna, I want peanut butter and jelly” or “I want apples, not oranges”). My kids learned to work together to create a balanced meal.

Now that my kids are older, most of them make their own lunches. They even discovered that if they make their lunches at night, then they can sleep a few extra minutes in the morning.

What do your kids do for lunch? Do they eat at the school or take lunches from home?

Melanie Flake

Melanie Flake

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