Get your kids to pack their own lunch with a simple lunch packing station that takes all the work and frustration out of making lunch for school. Plus good lunch box snack ideas to get you on your way.
We’re all trying our best to help our kids become more independent, and giving them the task of packing their own lunch is a simple (I promise, this is really easy to teach them to do) way to do this.
My kids are 8 (twins) and 4 and they are fully capable of packing their own lunches – because I’ve made it really easy and simple for them to do so.
Here’s how you can do it too (and be sure to grab the kid-friendly pack your own lunch printable guide at the end of this article.)
A Lunch Packing Station Makes It Easy
The trick to having your kids pack their own lunch, is to make it as easy as possible for them to do it independently and as frustration-free as possible.
The more self-sufficient they become at building a lunch in less than 5-minutes, and are able to pack food they *actually* want to eat for lunch, the more likely they are to stick with making their own lunches.
That’s why after I do my grocery shopping on Sundays, I take 30 – 45 more minutes to prep all the food my kids will need during the week and sort it into categorized bins which fit easily into our fridge.
This makes it SUPER easy for them to pack their own lunches in just a few minutes.
Here’s How to Make a Lunch Packing Station:
I bag or put into containers, portioned out carrots, cucumbers, snacks, proteins and pre-made main foods if I can (and they’ll hold up.)
Here are the supplies I use to pack all our food in for the lunch packing station or my kids use when they assemble their lunches:
- reusable silicone bags with seal tops (no zippers, those don’t work!),
- lunchskins wax paper bags in super-cute patterns,
- Mira Lunch Containers / Thermos with spoon and keeps the food warm until lunch time
- Pyrex round glass storage containers with BPA-free lids,
- and Bento Box Stainless Steel Containers with a removable divider.
Next, I organize the fridge with small bins just like these ones.
There are four bins – one for vegetables, one for fruits, one for proteins and one for main foods.
When its time for the kids to pack their lunch before they get ready for bed, all they have to do is take the bins out of the fridge, use free printable lunch packing guide (the link to download this is below) and follow the step-by-step instructions to build a healthy, balanced lunch.
I do keep a separate snack bin in our pantry with portioned out snacks since they have snack-time at school and need to bring one with them. It’s also convenient for after-school because I know they don’t eat too much and be filled up by the time dinner comes around.
Ideas for Your Lunch Packing Station:
These are the foods my kids like and I rotate through every other week so they’re not packing the same lunches all the time.
We’re a gluten-free and dairy-free family so add in more items if there’s more to the list your little ones like!
- Carrot Sticks
- Cut up Cucumbers
- Snap Peas
- Celery Sticks
- Cut up strawberries
- Orange slices
- Sliced Peaches
- Sliced Grapes
- Apple slices (I get the packaged organic apple slices at Costco)
- Hard-Boiled Egg
- Chicken Strips (we make in bulk for dinner and then use the extras for lunch)
- Black, Pinto or Garbanzo Beans
- Gyro / Lamb Strips
- Chicken Apple Sausage
- Gyro Sandwich
- Bean Burritos
- Basmati Rice and Beans
- Hummus and Crackers
- Cauliflower Pizza
Good Lunch Box Snack Ideas
Here are some ideas to keep in your portioned snack bags:
- Veggie Straws
- Dried Fruit
- Beef Jerky (try to find one without a ton of sugar)
- Granola bars
- Apple (not sliced) with a side of nut butter
Get your Pack a Lunch Printable
Here’s what the simple one-page (free) printable looks like. Then, use the link below the image to grab your free download.
Note: My kids pack their own lunches the night before because we have to get on the bus at 7:10am, but you can also do this the morning of if you’re not in a rush.
Click to download your free PDF and get your kids packing their own lunch in no time!
More Resources to Build Independent Kids: