A Step-by-Step Guide

It’s back-to-school. New teachers. New clothes. New approach to lunch— it’s time to ditch the idea parents are solely responsible for meal prep!

Why not invite the little ones to help create the lunch menu for the coming week? Even if it’s a standard PB&J or turkey with mayo, allowing kids to make choices boosts confidence and self-esteem. There are many ways to include little ones in the meal planning process, but to make it easy (and fun!) we’ve put together a meal-planning activity that inspired by your friendly neighborhood sushi restaurant.

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Step 1

Put the options on the table


If you’ve been out for sushi recently, you probably remember those little slips of paper that let you speed-order your favorite rolls. By recreating that experience with kid-friendly food, you can make sure there’s a healthy, balanced lunch every day with the added benefit of being exactly what your child picked out.

Choose My Plate

The exact options you make available are up to you, but a general guideline to follow is to try to include healthy food and beverage choices from all five food groups, including fruits, vegetables, grains, protein foods, and dairy.

With our method, meal-planning turns into a fun activity the whole family can enjoy together. All you need to do is carve out about an hour on a Sunday night to sit down with your kids and plan out the lunches for the week. Below’s an example of the selection sheet we use. Click here to download our full week lunch planner. 

Step 2

Make the process Fun!


In the age of mass produced everything, even the simple joys of a handmade sandwich, crafted with tiny hands and a loving heart, is something wonderful for a child to enjoy and an adult to remember. We know that today it’s hard to make time, even if our will and imagination want us to create awe-inspiring lunchtime feasts.

That said, this is also a chance for making lunch to be family fun rather than a perfunctory chore. Since they helped pick out the menu, asking your kid to help prep the sandwiches and bag the veggies is a great way to squeeze in a little bonding time before the week starts and give them more of a sense of ownership over their lunches.

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Step 3

Don't Forget The Art

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The lunch menu may already be a reflection of their personality, but don’t let it stop there. Sadly, the embossed lunch box has gone the way of wood-paneled station wagons, only to be seen on reruns of 70s TV shows and childhood photos, but who says you can’t decorate the brown bag or a plain insulation container. It’s a blank canvas ripe for a child’s imagination. Bring out their inner Pollock, Picasso or Banksy!

Step 4

Add some love

After the kids are asleep, don’t forget to add a surprise! And if you’re lacking inspiration, Aunt Millie’s has got you covered. Download our printable lunchbox notes and sneak one in each bag.

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