Easy-Peasy, No-Worries, Stress-Free School Lunch Making System

Esther Pransky September 24, 2020

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Aren’t school lunches supposed to be simple?

Picture your basic PB&J sandwich, throw in an apple, and you’re done.

But real life in the 21st century doesn’t work that way. You’re navigating a world of endless pre-packaged snack foods and negotiating with your children’s lunch whims, and you have at least a dozen other tasks that need your attention right now.

At Kosher.com, we’re all about making your life easier AND giving your family the foods they love. In that spirit, we present a simple lunch system that:

  • Eliminates running out of the ONLY snack your child wants today
  • Gives your children control over what they eat within the limits that you set
  • Takes the stress out of planning lunches, even for multiple children and picky eaters
  • Makes it easy for children to pack their own lunches
  • Is simple to explain and implement even for very young children
  • Can be implemented whatever school looks like for you right now

Sound too good to be true? Not at all!

Food Choice Chart

Step One is for each child in your house to fill out a Food Choice Chart. This will be the master list of foods they want to eat in school.

Divide the foods into categories like “mains,” “noshy snacks,” and “healthy snacks” and allow 7-8 options for each one. (You can customize the categories to what works for your family’s standards.)

If your kids are learning at home, you don’t have to worry about packing so you can offer foods that don’t keep or travel well like eggs or yogurt dip with veggies.

And while you do have veto power, try to give your children as much free choice as possible.

A completed chart might look like this:

Click here to download PDF

Those are just a sampling of ideas. If those mains don’t work for you and your kids, how about:

  • Cheese bourekas
  • Feta salad
  • Fish sticks
  • Chicken salad
  • Falafel
  • Pancakes

(For even more inspiration, check out the school lunch ideas in this Recipe Roundup.)

Print your charts and keep them ready to plan each child’s weekly lunch menu.

Weekly Lunch Menu Chart

Which leads us to Step Two.

This chart has a column for each day of the week.  The rows correspond to the categories of food that go into a lunch each day. (Again, customize to fit your children’s schedules and appetites. In general, though, Sunday and Friday need fewer snacks because they’re shorter days.)

Click here to download PDF

You chose the categories; now, your children will choose the foods.

Each week, each child uses the Food Choice Chart to fill in a weekly lunch menu. Using the Food Choice Chart above, here’s what a completed menu might look like:

Click here to download PDF

The beauty of this system is that even very young children can understand and use it. And if your Picky Eater wants the same exact lunch every day, so be it.

Making It Work

Once you have the basics down, this system mostly runs itself. For maximum effectiveness, here are a few more pointers to keep in mind:

  • Are your kids allowed to bring meat lunches to school?
  • For older children, what happens if they eat a meat lunch on a night when there’s a dairy supper?
  • Coordinate “chart-making” with your grocery trips, so you’ll know what snacks and foods to have in stock. If Wednesday is your shopping day, you might want the chart to go from Thursday through Wednesday each week.
  • Pack lunches at night to keep your mornings running smoothly. (But you knew that already!)

Don’t you wish everything about school could be this simple?