Awhile ago I wrote about 5 ways to encourage toddler independence. Welp, he’s NOT a toddler anymore! WAAAHHHH!
No, he’s a full-fledged kindergarten student this year in our homeschool! Just because we go to school at home, doesn’t mean I get out of bagged lunches (darn it!). No, field trips, library days, and weekly Classical Conversations mean we generally have to pack a lunch twice a week. Kudos to you mamas who do this every day because I think it’s my least favorite part of food planning!
I am actually pretty amazed at what my five-year old can do. He already gets snacks from the fridge and cupboards himself, so I know packing a lunch will not be much of a stretch.
But WHAT will he pack!? Because left to his own devices, I think his bag will be full of fruit leathers or something similar!
So I came up with this handy printable chart for how to teach kids to pack their lunch… with healthful foods and with balance!
The lunchbox chart – free printable!
Just hang this chart on the wall or fridge as a guide. (click it to get to the printable PDF!)
PIN THIS ==>> to your back to school Pinterest board for future inspiration!
You can see the packing guide is first divided into “food groups”: protein, vegetables, fruits, snacks and drinks. These are the various kinds of items I think he should include in each lunch.
To the left of each group is a number for how many of each he can select. We are big on giving our little guys a lot of protein, so I would like him to take two of that category if possible. You might note I don’t have a “grain” category – well, that’s because frankly, I feel our children get plenty of grains – either it is paired with a protein, or in snack form, so I don’t include that as a separate category!
The first few times you’ll probably want to guide your child through counting his item choices, and making sure he has something from each category.
A few tips on how to teach kids to pack their lunch:
One, you’ll have to be the one stocking the fridge, pantry, or freezer for your child to pick from. I am going to try to do this in two-week chunks so I can have a break for a while!
Two, print this out on card stock, then laminate. That way your child can check off what they took with a dry erase marker.
Three, if you want your child to get more food variety, try having them cross OUT the food item they took one day, and then the next day they have to pick items NOT crossed out. Erase for the third or fourth day so they can start over with some of their favorite choices. But at least you get a little variety!
Having a visual guide to teach kids to pack their lunch helps them stay focused and learn to make great choices. You’re really teaching them a lifelong healthy eating skill!!
Just one more thing for you to do, mamas!
Your child has just packed their own lunch! HURRAY!! Now you can tuck in something sweet…and GOOD for them… like these cute Scratch Art lunchbox notes! See my guest post at the Melissa & Doug blog!
What do you pack in your child’s lunchbox? How do you encourage independence with back to school preparations?
Happy back to school, my friends!
This post was written in connection with Melissa & Doug and although this post is not sponsored, I received compensation for writing on their site. All opinions are my own.