Tips on Making School Lunches for Kids

Questions a Parent Should Consider When Packing a Lunch

As a parent, you may usually think you know what kids like. And most times you probably do. But when it comes to packing kids school lunches, there’s more to it than just what kids like. There are factors such as nutrition, budget, and practicality, not to mention that hard-to-pin-down factor—coolness.

Though parents may never set foot in their kids’ school cafeteria during lunchtime, they need to know a bit about what goes on there in order to provide the right lunch for their child. The first step is reading the school information regarding lunches—both what is served by the school and what the rules are for packed lunches.

But even when you do know the rules and the menu, undoubtedly you may still have questions. Here are just a few of the questions about school lunch that you may have wondered about.

  • 01 of 05

    Should I Pack a Lunch or Buy?

    School Lunches

    Getty Images

    Before we can decide much else about our child’s school lunch first we have to answer the age-old question: bag lunch or school cafeteria? And for each family all the factors that go into this decision will be weighted a little differently.

    But, of course, most parents do both at some point during the school year, depending on what’s on the school menu.

  • 02 of 05

    How Can I Pack a Healthy Lunch That My Child Will Actually Eat?

    If what your kids like is the opposite of healthy, you’ve got some work to do because even kids who are accustomed to healthy foods will crave schoolmates' junk food and ask for it in their lunch too. The social pressure at school can really change a child’s attitude about what’s a good school lunch. One of the best ways to combat this attitude is to have your children help pack their own lunches. Yes, you'll have to over see it, but making it a collaborative process can improve attitudes

  • 03 of 05

    How Much Should I Pack?

    Figuring out the right amount to pack in a kid’s school lunch can take some trial and error, especially if you have to take into account extra food for snack time or after-school care. Emphasize to your child that he should bring home uneaten items, rather than giving them away or throwing them out. Giving food to other children is generally not allowed in school, and, of course, throwing out food is wasteful.

    But there is another more practical reason for this rule: Mom needs this feedback to know what and how much to pack. Observe what comes back and ask questions. Kids often don’t have a lot of time to eat. If food comes back, find out why.

  • 04 of 05

    In What Should I Pack Lunch?

    I guess the question really is: Brown bag or lunchbox? When kids get to a certain age they may no longer want a lunchbox. Before that, they want a new one every year! Parents, on the other hand, would like to see kids take a lunchbox that keeps foods fresh and lasts from year to year. These lunchboxes kids and parents like can be a good compromise.

    Continue to 5 of 5 below.
  • 05 of 05

    What Shouldn’t I Pack for in My Kids’ School Lunches?

    Here’s a short rundown of lunch items that cause problems:

    • Messy foods, for obvious reasons
    • Foods that are not allowed, so know the school rules
    • Items kids need help in opening (they may have to wait for help)
    • Foods that aren’t properly packed and spill
    • Embarrassing/uncool foods

    And the most obvious: stuff they don’t like. They just won’t eat it if you’re not there, so don’t bother.