How We Got Our Kids to Make Their Own School Lunches

school lunches

The kids are officially back in school and we now have 3 out of the house on most days. That means 3 times the rushed morning routines, 3 times begging them to brush their teeth and hair and 3 times the lunches to be made. But wait. This year, we’ve delegated the lunch making duties to the kids because if they make their lunches they are 100% more likely to eat them.

One thing we feared this year is our 4-year-old picky eater. She usually gets her sustenance from white rice, noodles, cucumbers, yogurt and cookies. She has a passion for helping while we cook so it was an easy decision to get her to help make her lunches.

The Perfect Formula to Get Kids to Make Their Own School Lunches

Getting the kids to make their own lunches starts with getting them excited about the process. This formula works wonders for us and we always go to our local Walmart to get everything we need.

school lunches

Hype Them Up. We have been talking about them making their own lunches the whole month of August. When we ate meals, we would ask the kids if they would like them for school. Wraps, pasta salad and sandwiches still hold top spot for our kids and are easy to make.

Let Them Choose Their Own Lunch Bags. Each child is an individual and we’re letting go of the reigns a bit with ours and letting them make their own decisions. I did push a little so that they would choose bigger lunch bags to fit all of their food in them, but am really happy with their choices. 

school lunches

My youngest daughter has opted for her favourite My Little Pony lunch bag. Our eldest daughter picked this beautiful Athletic Works chevron bag. I love that they both chose bags that are bright and cheerful and big enough to store lots of great food.

Get an Assortment of Lunch Containers. One thing we have learned over the years is that you need a wide variety of lunch containers so that you are not restricted in what to pack. This Rubbermaid 18-piece storage set comes with containers of different sizes and we grabbed two of them. I find that the lids keep everything sealed tight and they really stand the test of durability over time. 

school lunches

We also grabbed these sectioned Mainstays containers and noodle bowls. The bright colours are a welcome addition and the kids have already claimed a colour each.

school lunches

Snack Choices. We like to have an assortment of lunch and snack choices in the house. By giving the kids choices, they are less likely to come home from school with uneaten food (my pet peeve). We have stocked up on some great items from Walmart’s Great Value brand including Animal Cookies, Mini Chocolate Chip Cookies, Diced Peaches Fruit Cups, and Round Original Baked Snack Crackers in addition to the fresh fruit we purchased such as apples and bananas for the win.

school lunches

Lunch Choices.  Sandwiches and wraps are so versatile that they are a clear fave in our home. We make sure to have sliced cheese, meat and vegetables in our fridge at all times. This has been a lifesaver during the summer months for quick and easy lunch ideas.

school lunches

Another cost efficient and versatile dish we love is pasta salad. I cook rotini and when it cools I toss it with some Zesty Italian dressing so it doesn’t stick. The kids can then add whatever toppings they want such as, cherry tomatoes and cucumbers, chopped turkey and cheese, or shredded carrot, celery and apple. The possibilities are truly endless and it stores really well in the fridge for a few days. 

school lunches

Make Lunches the Night Before. Making lunches the night before takes some of the craziness out of the morning rush. It is also a great addition to a bedtime routine to help them unwind. We’ve been using the time to chat about what is going to happen the next day and prepare ourselves. This is also the time when my kids ‘remember’ they have homework they forgot about, are starving, need to drink a glass of water, and get the urge to explain Minecraft to me one more time.

school lunches

Walmart For Back to School

We did a large chunk of our back to school shopping at Walmart–hello affordable uniforms–and I love that we could grab so much of what was on our list in one place.

School may have already started but it is not too late to pick up some of Walmart’s back to school essentials and take advantage of their low prices every day. Perfect for those items that we forgot to buy that the teacher will 100% send a note home about.

This post is sponsored by Walmart Canada as part of the Back to School Lunch and Snack Solutions program. In exchange for this review, I have received special perks in the form of products and/or compensation. All opinions on this blog are my own.
Aneta Alaei
Aneta Alaei

Aneta is a Toronto-based mom of four that loves a good meal, great company, and learning something new. In her free time, you can find her trying to keep yet another plant alive.

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  1. Calvin F.
    September 5, 2017 / 1:02 pm

    Great idea 🙂 Lunches are so fun to make.

  2. Lynda Cook
    September 5, 2017 / 1:35 pm

    I buy all my stuff at Walmart as well and it’s a great idea to have them make their own lunch, then they are taking what they want to eat and it also gives them some responsibility as well!!

  3. AD
    September 5, 2017 / 1:52 pm

    Good on you guys! I always say that if we give the kids the tools to make good, informed choices and provide them with the means to be self-sufficient, they will always do so. And be proud of it!

  4. Elizabeth Matthiesen
    September 5, 2017 / 11:44 pm

    I believe that kids actually enjoy taking on responsibilities, as long as it’s not too much at a time, it makes them feel more ‘grown-up’. I agree that kids are more likely to eat their lunches if they have chosen the food themselves. Love the idea of the noodle salad.

  5. LisaM
    September 6, 2017 / 8:37 am

    Yep, we definitely have to start putting stuff together the night before!

  6. September 6, 2017 / 1:26 pm

    We have given our kids more control over making their own lunches and have already found they are eating more of their lunches.

  7. September 6, 2017 / 2:17 pm

    Oh some great ideas here! I really like that lunch box at the top. I might have to grab me one for Ava!

  8. September 6, 2017 / 3:11 pm

    These lunch ideas are super fun for the littles. I’m so glad my son is able to pick out what he wants for his snack time now.

  9. September 6, 2017 / 5:17 pm

    My son used to come home at lunchtime. Now that he is at a different school and has to pack a lunch, I know what a pain in the butt it can be. Thanks for the great tips.

  10. September 7, 2017 / 1:18 pm

    I’m loving your storage options and organization here! And the pasta salad is a great idea, allowing the kids to add in their favorite veggies.

    Our kids have prepped their own lunches for several years. I think it’s a great way to teach responsibility and encourage growth and independence. I try to have healthy options available and they do a great job with it.

  11. robin rue
    September 7, 2017 / 1:48 pm

    These are awesome lunch ideas. I always keep my fridge stocked with fruits and veggies, too. My kids like to snack on them when they get home from school.

  12. September 7, 2017 / 5:19 pm

    I wish I could get my kids to help out with the school lunches, I usually only get complaints. Those rubbermaid containers look like essential lunch equipment.

  13. September 7, 2017 / 6:33 pm

    My daughter doesn’t pack lunch for school yet, but she loves to help prepare food. I found she is more likely to eat it if she makes it herself!

  14. September 7, 2017 / 7:59 pm

    That’s brilliant! It’s nice to have the kids make their own lunches especially since it allows them to be more responsible and you’ll know for sure that they’ll eat what they made. I think these are great tips for all the parents out there!

  15. Kristina
    September 7, 2017 / 9:06 pm

    We do daily school lunches here. I love making their lunches. It saves money and I also know they are going to eat what I make and be full until snack time after school.

  16. Jeanine
    September 7, 2017 / 9:09 pm

    It saves so much money doing lunches for the kids to take to school when they are young especially because they may not like the lunch and be picky!

  17. September 7, 2017 / 10:29 pm

    Good for you! You’re teaching your kids responsibility as well as healthy eating!

  18. September 8, 2017 / 2:13 am

    These are great ideas for the kids, I think I should start doing this for my youngest. It’s definitely going to make her more exciting for lunch.

  19. September 8, 2017 / 4:02 am

    That’s awesome that the kids are involved in making their own lunches! My mum got me making my own lunch pretty early on – but that was mostly because I was fussy and wouldn’t eat very much haha

  20. reesa
    September 8, 2017 / 11:03 am

    I would love to start having my kids make their own lunches like this. What a great system to have some healthy ideas available to them.

  21. September 8, 2017 / 12:07 pm

    I guess having them create a meal plan could help as well! And the idea of having them choose their own ingredients and even lunch bags and containers makes it highly customizable and fun! Though, I think this method would only work if you aren’t in a rush to get anywhere haha

  22. September 8, 2017 / 2:15 pm

    These are great ideas! I love that you are encouraging self-sufficiency and also spreading the love for reusable instead of disposable containers.

  23. September 8, 2017 / 7:51 pm

    My kids have been packing their lunches for a couple years now. I have found that they end up wasting much less food because they actually pack what they will eat.

  24. September 9, 2017 / 7:25 pm

    Having your children help with lunches definitely encourages them to actually eat what’s packed. My oldest is extremely picky and I’ve always struggled getting her to eat lunch at school!

  25. September 10, 2017 / 4:25 pm

    It is great that you are teaching you children to make their own lunches when they are young! It’s so important to give kids opportunities to be self-sufficient and responsible for themselves.

  26. September 10, 2017 / 4:34 pm

    We have 6 kids and at least half of them prefer making their own lunches over eating school lunches! Way to go with getting your kids to make their own lunches.

  27. September 10, 2017 / 6:37 pm

    I absolutely LOVE the idea of having everything ready like that. Last year I had a basket system for school snacks and it was such a time saver!

  28. erin n
    September 13, 2017 / 4:36 pm

    So true – you have to make it exciting for them! Thank you for this 🙂

  29. Laura chorney
    September 13, 2017 / 5:22 pm

    I wish I could get my kids to make their own lunches. Lol. They would pack fruit roll ups and chips ahoy cookies.

  30. Kristi F
    September 13, 2017 / 5:51 pm

    I love the idea of making pasta salad for a school lunch.

  31. September 13, 2017 / 8:01 pm

    I made a snack cart and so far it has been helpful in getting my son to pack his own lunch! These tips are helpful too!

  32. Rosanne Robinson
    September 17, 2017 / 4:33 pm

    Having your children involved by choosing the healthy foods and packing their own lunch is a terrific idea! I love the small containers to keep the foods separate and fresh.

  33. September 18, 2017 / 9:56 pm

    I think its a great ideato give them choices for their lunches and to praise them for taking on this responsibility.It gives them a good sense of accomplishment and something to be proud of.

  34. Julie
    September 19, 2017 / 9:48 am

    Lots of great ideas here! I like the snack bin idea, nice to have a spot they know they can go to and grab their own choices. We too have been making lunches the night before. My kids bus has changed routes and they now get on an hour before they did last year so that is really helping us out!

  35. Judy Cowan
    September 20, 2017 / 1:29 pm

    Great ideas, I think it is very important to get kids involved in making their own lunches. Definitely helps to get them to eat it and not bring home wasted food.

  36. Kevin B
    September 20, 2017 / 4:15 pm

    Well, there sure is less complaining about what they got for their school lunch when they make their school lunch

  37. Elizabeth Matthiesen
    September 20, 2017 / 6:18 pm

    I just heard from a friend that she was scolded by a teacher in Germany recently. And what for do you think, it was for sending fruit yoghurts with her kids for lunch – has to be natural yoghurt with fresh fruit she was told as the other has too much sugar. Now that I think is going over the top. I know that these kids are healthily fed, they eat a lot of stuff I’d never touch. Strange really as there was no ban on nut products at all.

  38. kathy downey
    September 22, 2017 / 4:49 pm

    My grandkids enjoy taking on responsibilities especially when it involved their School lunches

  39. Donna L.
    September 24, 2017 / 3:45 am

    Good tips, thanks.

  40. kristen visser
    September 24, 2017 / 11:05 am

    what great pointers to keep in mind when the time comes. right now my oldest is still to young to pack her own lunch but we will definitely make it a fun so it is something she looks forward to doing. and i agree! making it the night before is key

  41. Alison Braidwood
    September 29, 2017 / 2:53 pm

    I like the idea of having a selection of snacks the kids can choose from. And making food the night before is a good idea, too.

  42. Mike Gismondi
    September 30, 2017 / 7:40 am

    We put stuff together the night before and also try to get the kids to help… it’s good to have them involved. It works with varying success… don’t expect miracles!

  43. Sherry K
    November 30, 2017 / 9:16 am

    Preparing the pasta ahead of time to be used all week is a great idea for everyone’s lunches. Probably salmon in mine and some spicy meat for my husband.

  44. loucheryl
    December 9, 2017 / 9:33 pm

    Trying to make different lunches for my boys every day is a challenge. Thanks for these tips!

  45. Darlene Schuller
    December 13, 2017 / 8:50 am

    I’ve already lost my steam on lunches now 🙁 I feel like I pack the same stuff over and over, I’ve actually resorted to her telling me what she wants lol

  46. Tannis W
    December 18, 2017 / 12:42 am

    Thanks for the great tips and ideas. I grew up packing my own lunch, and I will expect that of my children as well.

  47. Darlene Schuller
    December 27, 2017 / 7:34 am

    It’s almost January.. I am quickly running out of ideas on what to pack and Im pretty sure she’s getting dang sick of what I’m packing lol.

  48. Katherine Moore
    March 21, 2018 / 8:47 am

    The kids are so bored with the lunches that I’ve been making. It’s hard to be creative. I must admit I essentially pack the samething for them everyday though snacks do vary. I LOVE your pasta idea!! Not only like you said can you make it ahead of time, but the kids can get involved and custom make their own pasta salad. I LOVE IT! It’s versatile and healthy. The kids will be so excited to try something new.

  49. John Mc
    April 12, 2018 / 1:27 pm

    Coffee Lover Accessories for Every Price Point. I need more coffee…..

  50. kathy downey
    May 12, 2018 / 1:46 pm

    I love shopping Walmart and I just can’t believe in just weeks the kids are out for Summer