Aug 23, 2018
School is back in session here and we are back to the regular morning routine.
In our last post, we shared some tips on creating a smoother morning schedule. One of the suggestions detailed planning time in the nightly routine for preparing lunches.
Having my children work along with me to prepare their lunch boxes not only ensures that the choices they are making will be nutritious and filling but it also empowers them to be an active participant in making healthy food choices.
Even the youngest child can help prepare their lunch. They can help wash the fruit and vegetables, they can slice soft fruit and even spread condiments, cream cheese or nut butters. To support the child in the kitchen, keep available these handy kid friendly tools:
Small cutting boards
Child safe vegetable peeler
Many schools differ in the way that lunchtime is organized. It’s helpful to know the school’s lunchtime routine to best support how the child packs their lunches.
In many Montessori schools, the children set the table with silverware, glass cup and cloth napkin. They transfer their food from their containers onto plates. Once they finish eating, they put away their leftovers and will either wash their cup, plate and silverware themselves or load them into the classroom dishwasher.
Other schools may have the child eating directly from their lunch boxes. Knowing how the children will sit to eat and how long their lunchtime lasts, can best guide how their food is packed. If they are eating directly from their lunch bags, a “bento” style container allows the child to enjoy all of their lunch selections without opening and closing multiple containers. Here are a few of my favorite styles:
(OmieBox Bento Box lunch)
(YumBox) (Bentgo Kids)
If the child will be transferring their food from their lunch bag onto plates, having a “bento” style container could make things a little tricky. Offering each food choice its own container helps the child to successfully prepare their plate with minimal spills.
I like to take time with my girls and talk to them about what they like to eat at school and when I shop for groceries, I keep those suggestions in mind. If I want to introduce new food to them, I like to include them on those shopping trips and have them help me in the kitchen to build a familiarity that will make the more willing to try new flavors and keep our lunch box ideas fresh.
Before I invite the girls into the kitchen to prepare lunches, I make sure that there is sufficient counter space where they can work together but each have their own space. My eldest daughter is now at an age where she can prepare her lunch independently. My youngest daughter however, works best when we work side by side with the most frequently used kitchen tools are close at hand ready to be used.
When I work with Emily on packing her lunch, I limit the choices. I ask her if she would like to have leftovers to eat or if she would like to prepare a sandwich. I encourage her to be involved in all of the steps to prepare the food and pack them into their containers. Once she is finished, she is in charge of packing the containers into the lunch bag, closing it and placing the bag in the refrigerator.
At the end of the day, when the girls come home, it is a part of our daily routine for them to open their lunch bags and remove the containers. The Montessori approach focuses on guiding the child to a better understanding of the process of how things work.
They are given lessons that show the full sequence of a given activity. Its cleanup and preparation for another to use is always included in the lesson. I try to embrace that philosophy at home too. It’s important for them to not only participate in preparing their lunches, but also to unpack and clean out the containers too.
I like to spread the message about healthy eating outside of the kitchen too by making sure that my home library features books about food, family and about how food grows.
Here are a few that I really like:
- The Vegetables We Eat, by Gail Gibbons
- Good Enough To Eat, by Lizzy Rockwell
- How Did That Get In My Lunchbox?, by Chris Butterworth
- Baby Goes to Market, by Antinuke
- Are You What You Eat?, by DK
- Eating the Alphabet, by Lois Ehlert
- The Carrot Seed, by Ruth Krauss
- Blueberries For Sal, by Robert McCloskey
As a last note, watch this healthy school lunch ideas for kids.
Do you have some lunchbox secrets to share? Tell us all about it in the comments section below!