School Lunches: I don’t pack them anymore

Part 1: A former teacher turned parent shares what’s important and how we manage all the school related stuff in our home

Part 2: Paper, paper, more paper, & emails! How I tame the communication beast

Part 3: Staying on top of scheduling and saying NO! & Google Calendar vs. EC Life Planner

Part 4: Managing Homework Time, Play Time, Dinner Time, Snacking, The After School Hours


I think I can say with complete confidence that packing lunches is the very best thing The Hubs and I have ever delegated to the kids. I first read this in Simcha Fischer’s post: “If the child is old enough to go to school all day, the child is old enough to make his own lunch” and I remember saying to myself, “Yeah! She’s right! I’m not packing lunches anymore!” I was liberated. Thank you Simcha! It’s not that I hated packing my children’s lunches for school. It’s that I loathed packing my children’s lunches for school.

When Smarty Pants was entering Kindergarten, I bought him a Bento Kit from Bentology (formerly Laptop Lunches). Now all four kiddos have their own kits, if that’s any indication of how happy we are with this product.

lunch box open
Sometimes the kids like to leave out the Bento Box to create a little more space for a big sandwich container. The benefit to using the Bento Box is that you don’t need lids on all of your containers, but when the children are making their own lunches, I let them do their thing. What they put into their school lunch is sometimes a bit off balance, if you know what I mean. So before putting the lunch box into the fridge the night before, The Hubs or I check them to make sure they have some protein in there, a grain, and a fruit. As long as those three components make it into the lunch, I’ve done my part. Kindergarteners and First Graders need training when it comes to making their own lunches. What I mean is, during the first three weeks of school or so, assign an older sibling (if you have one). If not, it’s all on you mom or dad! Teach them: One container for fruit, one for grain, one for protein, then give them a little freedom. Let them decide what goes in the fourth box. Raisins? Craisins? Prunes? Dried apricots? And since we’re catholic, I sometimes bake muffins or some sort of healthy bar to add to their lunch box for a feast day. They love this.

As for organizing all the containers, I have an entire kitchen cabinet dedicated to this stuff. I separate the different components into baskets.

  • containers, spoons, and forks
  • lids
  • water bottles
  • cloth napkins, Reuseit snack bags
  • thermos

Then I just stack up all the soft containers with the Bento Boxes inside.

bento system storageAs for cleaning all this stuff, well, I do it. I’m setting a goal for myself this year to move this from my list of chores to the kids’ list of chores. All they have to do is stand by the sink with the trash can next to them and empty any leftovers (hopefully there aren’t any!) into the trash can and throw all the plastic containers into a sink full of warm soapy water. I usually wash, rinse, and set them out to drip dry. Then another child could be in charge of stacking all the containers followed by putting them in the right container in the cabinet. We’ll see. I am hopeful, but not delusional.

There are a million different Instagram accounts and Pinterest Boards you can follow to get ideas as to what to buy so that your children have healthy options when packing their own lunches. I like BentologyLiving on Pinterest and Instagram.

So, that wraps up my five part series on all things Back to School! I really enjoyed writing these posts and it makes me so happy when I receive comments that you found my tips helpful. I have a Pinterest Board of the SMAM posts I’m most proud of. Check it out!

school lunches PINTEREST


Categories: Parenting


4 Responses to School Lunches: I don’t pack them anymore

  1. Great tips, Mary! Question for you… Do you do any prep work for this on Sundays? For example, slice up veggies, fruits, etc. Or, do they do this? What about prepackaged snacks? Are they part of your lunches (like chip and granola bars)? I struggle to find the balance between healthy vs. practical vs. budget friendly! Thanks!

  2. You must have two fridges? I can’t imagine fitting that many lunch boxes into my refrigerator! But I can come up with my own arrangement. Thanks for the tips!

    • We do have two refrigerators. One is in the basement, so if there isn’t enough room in the kitchen fridge, the kids just run all of their lunchboxes downstairs.

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