Anyone who regularly cooks dinner can tell you that it’s not the cooking itself that’s the issue: it’s figuring out what to cook in the first place. The same goes for kids packing their own lunch. If your child doesn’t know what they can (and should) include in their lunch box, you can almost bet the end result will be chips, sugar, and more sugar. While you certainly don’t want to demonize sugar, it’s not what will provide them sustained energy throughout the day.
To make lunch prep easy for kids, parents can eliminate the guesswork and confusion by giving them a cheat sheet. And while any list is better than no list, Turnbull says a little organization can go a long way. “It’s even more helpful if that list is broken into food groups. Ideally, lunch menu options should be laid out by category with instructions to pick one from each (think: protein, vegetables, grains, sugary treats, etc.).”
While a list of menu options is a covert way for parents to get some balance into their kids’ lunchboxes, it also sets clear boundaries, ultimately minimizing complaining, arguments, and pushback.
Turnbull adds, “If your child is old enough to read, lists are fine. Parents with small kids can also opt for pictures so the little guys can point out what they want.”