A reader said she had three teen/pre-teens that "forget" to pack their lunches or pack too much junk.
I applaud her teaching responsibility by having them pack their own lunches. My kids were packing their lunches in elementary school and I know my friends and I all packed our lunches at that age.
Lunches are another place we can get into power struggles. I remember in high school I was 88 pounds and ate Little Debbie’s with every lunch and a candy bar a day. Eating some junk food in high school isn’t necessarily a terrible thing.
If you are really worried about the junk food, keep only one box of cookies or junk like that open at a time. Growing up we were allowed two cookies to bring to school. We also had chips in the house rarely and I still do that. All those pretzels, potato chips and Fritos are empty calories. Same with fruit rolls and fruit gummies. Mainly sugar.
In order to make sure the lunches get packed (before you are on the way to school), have a set time during chores. Whether that’s after dinner or when everyone gets home from activities. It would be great if you are in the kitchen doing dishes, paperwork or sweeping so you can glance over as say, "Really?" when they try to pull an all garbage lunch. Keep it light and not over-controlling.
My husband brings a lunch every day to work and at the beginning of the week he cuts up fruit like watermelon in squares and washes and cuts veggies. Keep them in clear containers on prominent shelves to make them appear enticing. And next to that we always had yogurt. My kids never liked sandwiches. Dried fruit and nuts are quick and easy. You can also hard boil eggs on the weekend for protein in the lunches. They eat less junk if there are more fun, healthy, and most importantly, easy options.
So keep lunch stuff together in the fridge and in a kitchen cabinet. And if you have leftovers they can bring, put it in the same area. Like pasta salad, soup for a thermos, cold meatloaf.
Be specific by putting out a checklist of what you expect them to pack i.e. protein, fruit, vegetable, 1 treat. Or print out some fun options like these:
Let me know your favorite lunch ideas.