In an attempt to feed my three children healthy meals, I often feel like I am spending half of my life in the kitchen. Between meal prep, eating and clean up, by the time I am done, it’s almost time to start the next meal (at least that is what it feels like). Now that the kids are back to school, as soon as dinner is over, I am packing lunches and snacks for the next day….never ending!

This summer, I was enlightened by a friend (thanks Rachel) who also has three kids the same exact ages (10, 8 and 5). She said that her kids are preparing heir own lunches and snacks! Wake up call – my kids are capable of doing that too! I did have some concerns that, when given the opportunity, my kids would fill their lunch bags with goldfish and granola bars and be on their way. So, I devised this handy dandy lunch packing chart that I hang on our refrigerator. They consult it each night as they pack, making sure they have one thing for each category. I do help my 5 year old with her choices. Overall, I am happy to say that it has been a success!

Give it a try. Feel free to adapt it to your family. I try to make a batch of hardboiled eggs, smoothies and granola bars each week, so the kids just have to grab and pack what they want. It has saved me overall time in the kitchen and is teaching them what it means to choose healthy foods. I also no longer have to remember each child’s food preferences. I always seem to pack a child the one thing they do not like. Since the kids have a choice in what they pack, it has reduced the amount of uneaten food coming back from school. It would drive me crazy for the kids to come home and say they are starving, only to open up their lunchboxes and find it half full! As a mom who hates to waste good food, our new lunch packing plan has made everyone much happier. Good Luck!

Please share your lunch packing ideas. RiseVT would love to hear!


  • MAIN MEAL: Sandwich or wrap (turkey and cheese, sunbutter and honey, cream cheese and honey), Leftovers, Soup, Oatmeal
  • FRUIT – Pick one from the fruit drawer – apple, orange, grapes, etc.
  • VEGETABLE – carrots, celery, cucumbers, sugar snap peas, frozen veggies, green beans, etc.
  • PROTEIN – slice of cheese, hardboiled egg, yogurt
  • SNACK – hummus, granola bar, frozen smoothie (made in advance and stored in freezer in small mason jars), crackers, popcorn