Our Lunch Packing Routine That Changed Our Life

Lunch box for kids with sandwich, cookies, fresh veggies and fruits

Anyone else looking through Pinterest for lunch ideas? I have been pinning like a mad woman since our kids are starting school next week and it helps them when I have a list of ideas for them to choose from when THEY make their own lunch.  Yes, your kids can make their own lunch. Moms, it’s time to delegate some of those responsibilities that are driving us mad every morning and can be taken care of by your children.  Mornings can be hectic in our home between making breakfast, lunch, making sure they are dressed, and walk out the door with their lunch, backpack and homework… I felt like I needed a nap by the time I got every one out of the house. Guess what though, you can delegate some of this stuff! Just in case you’re wondering my boys are 12, 9 and 5.

So, I came up with this lunch packing routine that has literally changed our life. Well, maybe I’m exaggerating a bit but I have been amazed by how our mornings are more peaceful all because I delegated a few things. Our kids pack their own lunch now and they are responsible to pack everything they need the night before. I no longer do mid day drop offs for that project they forgot at home because they didn’t pack the night before.

Well, I wanted to try out our life-changing routine for a few months before I shared it with you all just to make sure it was a winner in our home but then I forgot to post it. Oops! So, here I am sharing it a year later but now I can tell you it worked wonderfully the WHOLE school year for our familia!

For the most part they enjoyed making their lunch and I had them pack it the night before so it was ready to go the next morning. They ate all their food even their veggies because they picked them and made their own lunch. Sometimes I have to check to ensure they don’t end up with a  carb and sugar filled lunch.  I used to teach school and I was amazed at the stuff parents sent the kids to school with–SUGAR.  This may not sound that bad but it’s sugar packed-peanut butter and jelly sandwich, bag of chips, Oreo cookies, yogurt and juice.  Wow, I thought to myself this is a recipe for an afternoon disaster with all that sugar and not to mention carbs in their lunch bag. Then we wonder why they are falling apart by 1:30 p.m.  Anyways, this is how our Pick 1 Lunch system worked, I hope it works for you!

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how to pack your lunch

Our Lunch Packing Routine

This is how our system worked ALL YEAR long!  I call it the Pick 1 Lunch Routine. First PRINT off the free printable either this option with lunch ideas already on them by clicking here:how to pack your lunch 2 or this one with blank lines so you can write down your own ideas:how to pack your lunch blank.

Every night after dinner or sometimes before dinner, I would ask them to go in the kitchen and make their lunch. I posted the printable on the fridge to remind them what should be in their lunch.

I basically broke it down into 5 categories and they have to pick one from each item to make up their lunch. They have to put 1 item from each category in their box: Main meal, fruit, vegetable, treat and drink.   For our kids, water always has to be in their box and if they want to add milk to it they can.

My only responsibility is to keep the fridge stocked with the items for them to make their lunch. There were days throughout the year that I didn’t make it to the grocery store in time, so they would just pack leftovers.


  • The first couple of weeks will be a learning lesson for all of you. Be patient!
  • Stock up on baggies of different sizes and tupperware of various sizes.
  • It will take them some time to figure out how long it takes to make their lunch and to remember to make their lunch the night before.
  • Purchase lunch bags with built in freeze sacks that they can add if needed to their lunch bag. Also buy a thermos for soup if you think they’ll take soup for lunch.
  • Also, be patient because unless they’ve already been “cooking” you’ll need to teach them how to make the main meals.
  • Start off with 2 simple main meals and practice for a week. Then add something else.
  • Also, you’ll need a few weeks for you to figure out what veggies and fruits to stock up on that you notice they enjoy a lot more.
  • But with that said don’t be afraid to add a variety of veggies and fruits they may find they like the new veggie.
  • There were weeks I didn’t have to remind them but most of the time I did give them a quick reminder.

Here are some ideas for the categories:

main meal: leftovers, ham & spinach pinwheels (with hummus as the base), pasta salad with veggies (cold), hard boiled eggs, quesadillas, pizza bagel, bean and cheese burrito, grilled cheese, french toast kababs, apple & turkey wrap, tuna salad, waffle sticks, bagel sandwich, chicken salad, taco in a bag…

veggies: broccoli, carrot sticks, red & green bell peppers sliced, cauliflower, peas, green beans, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, celery, corn, zucchini, lettuce, spinach…

fruit: pineapple slices, apples, oranges, bananas, strawberries, papaya, peaches, pears, kiwi, watermelon, raspberries, cantaloupe, grapes, grapefruit, watermelon, plums

treats/snacks: cheese, graham crackers, saltines, hummus, apple sauce, yogurt (low in sugar), wheat tortilla with peanut butter, toast with cheese, animal crackers, pretzels, trail mix, popcorn…

Easy Peasy right! Seriously, it’s so easy it doesn’t hurt to try it.

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