Lunch -®
Get your kids to pack their own lunch
Inspiration from Going Green's Lisa Bronner
by Sophie Cross

When I saw this article on packed lunches on green guru Lisa Bronner's website, I just had to share, because it's inspirational, in the true sense. As in, I read it and a lightbulb went on! Ding. Doh. Of course.

If you've already managed to crack the healthy lunch box thing with your kids (and can prove they actually eat the contents - seriously can you?) then great, but I suspect, like me, the majority of you haven't either. You might think you have, but have your kids really bought into the healthy lunch concept?

This tip on packed lunches from "Green Mom", Lisa Bronner (of the famous Dr Bronner's Magic Soaps family), is as brilliant as it is simple:

Get them to pack their lunch themselves.

Doh! Why didn't I think of that.

Lisa's article "A Well Packed Lunch" came with the realisation that you can only lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink… i.e., although she can try to lead her children to healthy lunches, she cannot make them eat them and that actually, frankly, they're old enough to pack their own.

"This year I had an epiphany that is very late in coming", said mum of three, Lisa. "I don't pack my kids' lunches anymore. They do. My kids range in age from 5 to 10, and are fully capable of doing this. They pack it the night before".


Advantages according to Lisa:

  • Saves me time.
  • They learn to pack a healthy lunch.
  • They decide what to take (to a certain extent) and can't complain.
  • I am not a short order cook. ("I want a cheese sandwich with the cheese on the side." "I want my apple in wedges, not in slices." "I want crushed ice in my water bottle, with one cube.")
  • Why do for kids what they can do for themselves?
As Lisa says, this doesn't mean that they can just put anything they like into their lunch box – it's not a "free-for-all"… there are a few rules and guidelines.

For this purpose, Lisa devised a chart and she inspects the lunches after they've been packed. The following chart is meatless, as it was part of her "Meatless Monday" series, but you could add meat to it in the form of chicken or turkey or ham sandwiches.

What Lisa has done is laminate her chart and each day she circles (with a wipeable white board marker) the foods that she has "in stock", so the kids know what they can choose that day.

Click here to download this chart

Customise Your Chart

Download the chart and then customize it and leave white space to write in extra items on hand. Here are some other ideas from Lisa to add to your own chart:
  • Granola (homemade?) – with or without milk
  • Veggie Wrap
  • Egg Salad
  • Chicken Salad
  • Salmon Salad
  • Broccoli, blanched - my little one has a tough time with raw
  • Fresh or Frozen peas and corn – my kids prefer them frozen (weird, I know)
  • Fresh or Frozen mango or pineapple or frozen fruits like raspberries and strawberries
  • Grapes
  • Peaches
  • Plums
  • Clementines
  • Melons - put in a separate container as they can make other items soggy

In the Thermos:

  • Porridge - kids love this at any time of day.
  • Home made stew
  • Chilli con carne
  • Rice & Beans
  • Rice & Curry


  • Use good BPA free, washable, reusable lunch box containers – preferably with a cooler pouch.
  • Reusable BPA free water bottles containing WATER, not juice!
  • Thermos flask – for hot or cold liquid or non-solid food.
It's definitely worth a go. You've got nothing to lose and like most things with kids (and men) you'll have far more success in uptake of any new regime when they choose for themselves (or at least think they have).

More inspiration from Lisa Bronner's Going Green blog here.

Good luck.
Sophie Cross is a PR, writer, mum and soft touch when it comes to small furry animals. She grew up in the south-east of England, but has lived in France, Italy, Australia and in the beautiful Lecrin Valley (Valle de Lecrin), Andalucia. She has worked with since 2006. She lives in Limpsfield, Surrey (UK), surrounded by pretty villages, the rolling hills of the North Downs and the delightfully picturesque M25! Read more by Sophie
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