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The Secret To Making School Lunches

I’m going to tell you a little story that might just change your life.

This time last year, I’d had it up to HERE with packing my son’s lunch. No matter how hard I tried to divine what he’d actually eat, the box came home full regularly. I tried an app that let him choose from a mom-approved menu. I jazzed up his sandwich with Star Wars cookie cutters. I packed a variety of nutrient-packed snacky things instead of a “real” lunch. Nothing worked.

As far as I could tell, my kid was lunching on air. And we were wasting so much food! I considered just not sending anything, but figured someone would call CPS on me. It was a frustrating slog to the end of the school year.

Right before Labor Day I had a brainstorm: Instead of wasting my time trying to pack something he might deign to eat, I suggested he take the responsibility upon himself. Lunch-making seemed like a very grown up third-grader-type thing to do, so he accepted the mantle. Together we wrote up a list of things he likes to eat (a very short list, obvs). I divided it into four categories and stuck it on the fridge. Now he chooses one item from each group after dinner on school nights. I supervise and help him determine which containers suit which foods, but other than that he does all the prep himself.

It worked.

He doesn’t always eat every scrap, but we’re more than halfway through the school year and he hasn’t brought home a full lunchbox yet. Having that little bit of control, of power, makes him more likely to eat. And even when he doesn’t polish off everything, it doesn’t sting me. He’s wasting his own time packing that food, not mine.

At the end of the holiday break, my Facebook feed filled with two types of parental posts: “Glory, hallelujah, things can go back to normal now,” and then “Oh crap, I have to pack lunch again.”

Me? I put up my feet and whistled a happy tune. And then realized I could help. I created a printable chart for you, to stick on your own fridge. It’s a much more extensive list than ours, since I’d guess your kid eats a broader range than mine does. Children younger than my son will need closer supervision (and in the beginning this may feel like more work), but once they get in the groove, I predict smiles all around.

See? Life: changed.

Pin the below to your Pinterest board or download a printable version of our chart to hang on your own refrigerator, click here.

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