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  • Shannon Crocker MSc RD

Why I don't love packing lunches...and how it will be better this year. I hope.

Did you hear that? It’s the collective groan from parents gearing up for 10 months of school lunch packing drudgery.

Real Talk: I write a lot of back to school articles and I put a pretty positive spin on it. Truth: I don’t really love packing school lunches. Gasp! Did I just say that out loud? Yep. I did.

Okay, really, I don't hate the lunch packing per say. In fact, I have a bit of a thing for lunch containers. Seriously, you should see my container collection. And I bought more this year. I could probably use an intervention.

What I don’t love is that I {still} haven’t got a good routine with my boys where they do all the packing. Oh sure, I know all the right things to do. I always start off in September by putting them into play. But somewhere down the road, a few months into the school year, it well…falls apart.

I’m not sure why, but slowly I just start taking over the lunch packing. Maybe it’s because their lunches don’t exactly get packed the way I would do it. Maybe it’s because I know that they need to be well fuelled and hydrated so they can pay attention and be prepared to learn. Or maybe I just do it because I get tired of asking them “did you pack your lunch?” (and feed the dog, clean your room, do your laundry, etc. etc. etc.)

But this year, I’m starting fresh with this in mind:

Let it go.

That’s my new mantra when it comes to my teen boys packing their own lunch.

Let it go.

If they don’t pack two servings of veggies in their lunch, they will survive. If they don’t have enough protein in their lunch, they might not have long lasting energy, but they will survive.

But here’s what I won’t let go: I’ll continue to make sure that all the healthy lunch options are here for them to choose.

Letting your kids be in control of their food intake is important for developing healthy eating habits. As parents, we are the providers of the healthy choices, but it’s up to our kids to decide what and how much they will eat of those healthy choices. Force, bribing and/or restriction are not healthy feeding approaches. They don’t work. They cause stress for you and your kids. And, those negative approaches could cause them to develop poor eating habits like overeating or emotional eating.

So, to get ready for lunch packing, I’m stocking my kitchen with lots of tasty, nutritious options to help make the healthy choice the easy choice. And I'll be sure to organize them so that they are easy to see (front of fridge/cupboard) (because apparently, moving things around is too much to ask. "Mom, where's the...")

Stock These Foods So Your Kids Can Pack Their Own Nourishing Lunch

In the cupboard…

  • Whole grain breads and crackers

  • Nuts and seeds

  • A few different oat or nut-based bars

  • Popcorn (ACK! New braces…no popcorn for my boys, but I love to snack on it)

  • Pretzels (great for dipping in hummus)

  • Whole grain and high fibre cereals for snacks (e.g. Mini Wheats, All Bran Multi-Grain Crunch)

  • Roasted chickpeas (I like The Good Bean brand)

  • Dark chocolate

  • Freeze dried fruit (the raspberries are ridiculously delicious) and dried fruit

  • Tuna and pulses (black beans, chickpeas)

In the fridge:

  • Lots of veggies and fruits (easy to pack and eat, not too messy examples: sugar snap peas, mini cucumbers, cut up carrots, grapes, berries, apples)

  • Hardboiled eggs, cheese, hummus, nut butters and lean meats (e.g. roasted turkey breast) for snacks, sandwiches and bento-style lunches

  • Greek yogurt, Smooth cottage cheese

  • Milk and yogurt drinks

  • Homemade muffins, energy bites or oatmeal cookies

  • Leftovers – seriously, an insulated container with pasta, soup or stew has got to be the easiest lunch packing option ever!

In the freezer:

  • Healthy and healthy-ish homemade waffles, muffins, cookies and granola bars

  • Frozen fruit (for packing yogurt parfaits)

  • Edamame

This year, I vow that I will be better at setting up a lunch packing routine that happens the night before. Really. Honestly. And I will “let it go”.

Well. At least I’m gonna try.

Are you with me? Leave me a comment below to let me know how you make lunch packing more enjoyable for you and your kids!

Vibrantly Yours,


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