When my kids pack their own lunches…this happens.


My kids packed Doritos in their lunches for school last week. GASP!  Technically, only a couple days last week because between the three of them, the contents of that bag seemed to disappear rather quickly.

A few years back, I removed myself as the big kids’ lunch packer and promoted myself to the lunch-packing supervisor.  In the beginning of this experiment, you might imagine my horror when I opened Alexa’s lunchbox and found this:


Yes, that is about five pieces of pepperoni, a bag of Cheetos, a bag of pirate’s booty, a Special K brownie, and graham cracker bunnies….a typical 2nd grader’s dream! (sorry about the blurry photo!)

Of course I was horrified, but I didn’t even say a word to her about it.  Instead, I re-packed it for her after she went to bed so she was nice and surprised when she opened her lunch box the next day at school and found this:

when my kids pack their lunches

She quickly learned that this supervisor actually supervises.  I, myself, learned that it was necessary to set some ground rules for what is appropriate and what is not appropriate for school lunches.

Since I am the primary purchaser of all things food in our home, I quickly realized that “if I don’t buy it, they won’t eat it”. Never has something appeared more obvious to me than in that moment!

I understand that I can choose not to buy such foods and then they will have to select healthier options, but being a total food control freak is not my intent.

Having a baggie of Doritos or Cheetos with their lunch will not kill them.  It’s almost like a childhood rite-of-passage to some.  So, sometimes I buy not-the-healthiest snacks.

I’m ok with doing that occasionally…and admitting to it.  I’m trying to teach them that moderation and sensibility are their best bet, and I know that a majority of the time they are eating healthy foods.

I won’t pretend to be that mom whose kids only eat organic, homegrown, non-GMO, whole foods 100% of the time, (though that might be something I would be proud of).

My kids like snacks BUT…they are getting much better at choosing healthier alternatives.  They also like structure and guidance, whether they are willing to admit it now or not.

The general guidelines for lunches packed in our home are as follows:

Main dish– turkey sandwich, AB&J (almond butter and jelly), leftover pasta and chicken, black bean, cheese, and chicken wrap, etc.

Fruit or Veggie – strawberries, banana, apple slices/ carrot sticks, celery sticks, cauliflower etc.

Snack – Kind bar, trail mix, yogurt, cheese stick, etc.

Drink – water, milk, 100% fruit juice


Seems pretty basic, right?  Right.  Because it is.

I let them choose a fruit OR a veggie and don’t insist on both because I found that more often than not, when I asked them to pack both, either the fruit or the veggie was left untouched.   Also, if I choose to buy Doritos or Cheetos they can throw those in there too.

(None of them have perished from cheesy fingers yet.)

I am not perfect, nor do I expect my kids to be perfect.  I try not to let my inner nutrition diva come out to ruin all of their fun all the time.  Like I said before, if  I don’t buy it, they won’t eat it, but when I do, its fair game.

I will say that since that first horrifying lunch packing incident with Alexa, we have not had a repeat incident!

For a while, it was a challenge/argument/negotiation every night but they have gotten much better and prefer not to chance having Mom re-pack their lunches for them.  They like that I give them a plan for what lunch should look like and then they can make decisions within my guidelines.

Since my big kids are with their dad two days out of the school week, I cannot attest for what they eat or pack in their lunches while they are with him.

I can only be responsible for helping them to make healthy choices as much as possible while they are with me, while allowing for a little flexibility so that I don’t end up being the food police 100% of the time.

Hopefully, this will encourage them to make good food choices to the best of their ability when I am not around. (Keyword is HOPEFULLY).

Trust me, they have heard my thousands of spiels about what’s in certain foods, and how they are engineered to taste good so people will buy them, or even the long-term effects of eating a diet of consistently unhealthy foods.  They shrug me off.

Why?  Because they are children.  And I plan to let them be children for as long as I possibly can.

Cheesy fingers and all.