Kids are returning to classrooms, and school lunch programs are back in business. Many students, particularly teenagers, prefer to tote their own lunches to school, instead of relying on cafeteria options, as the USDA reported in a document updated mid-2014. If allowed, this is often a super choice, especially for middle and high school students.
How can parents help older children to prepare their own school lunches at home?
Instead of actually making and packing the meals, many mothers and fathers provide the supplies and encourage adolescents to do it themselves.
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12 items to have on-hand for do-it-yourself school lunch preparation
- Breads and rolls – These are a sandwich must, no matter who is doing the prep.
- Deli meats and cheeses – Do-it-yourself sandwiches are simple, if these popular supplies stand ready in the refrigerator.
- Peanut butter and jam – Does anyone ever outgrow this popular lunch pick?
- Leftovers – Last night’s lasagna, meatloaf, or roast can make a wonderful school lunch, especially if young people have access to microwave ovens in the cafeteria. Restaurant take-homes of chicken parmesan, ribs, or unfinished steak can also be school lunch hits.
- Frozen foods – Individual pizzas, pocket sandwiches, pot pies, TV dinners are also cafeteria favorites, if kids can use microwaves. Sure, they tend to soften a bit, sitting in students’ lockers for a school morning, but not enough to spoil. They just cook a little faster.
- Salads – Many youngsters like chicken salad, egg salad, ham salad, tuna salad, or other lunch-appropriate choices. If these are prepared and ready to go, teens are more likely to stick them in a sandwich or a leftover lidded plastic container for toting to school.
- Single-serving snacks – Chips, cookies, crackers, pretzels, and other munchies may be purchased in snack cups. Hard-boiled eggs and string cheese are other great choices.
- Fresh fruit – Apples, bananas, oranges, pears, and other whole fruits are simply and healthy lunch-bag grabs.
- Baggies – Zippered plastic bags are ideal for packing sandwiches and snacks for school.
- Throwaway containers – Savvy parents wash and hold onto recyclable lidded plastic containers for use with school lunches. Deli cups, domed salad servers, foam take-out boxes, and margarine tubs are super for taking food to school.
- Lunch bags – Although some kids like lunchboxes, lunch pails, or insulated lunch bags, plenty prefer basic brown bags, which can be tossed after use.
- Money – Plenty of older kids still enjoy picking out meal options or a la carte items in the school lunch line, or even stepping off-campus (if allowed) to buy lunch at a fast food restaurant or nearby shop. Occasionally, schools offer special pizza days, bake sales, or other kid-friendly choices. So cash may be a welcome option on such occasions.
Isn’t it time for older students to make their own lunches?
By having the most useful and popular supplies on-hand, parents can encourage youngsters to pitch in and prepare their own lunches for school. Kids can learn helpful life skills, and find their way around the kitchen, at the same time. What’s more, they’ll select foods they will actually eat, rather than trying to trade or tossing undesired items into the school cafeteria trash.