This post is from contributing writer Mary Voogt of Just Take A Bite.
The holiday break is over. The new year is here.
That means it’s time to get back on track with healthy eating! One very important part of that is teaching your children what real, nourishing food is and why it is important.
In my experience the best way to teach your kids about good food is by letting them help prepare it!
Start teaching them at a young age and by the time they are in school they can practically pack their own lunches. What parent doesn’t want a little help with lunches?!
Ready to start delegating that task? Here are ten lunch components kids can make by themselves. As an added bonus you won’t hear any complaining about boring or gross lunches. Kids can’t complain if they choose and pack their own lunch!
Take one more item off your to-do list with these fun, healthy, and simple mason jar lunches that kids can make.
10 Easy Ideas
Veggies with dip
Add sour cream and your choice of seasoning to a jar (we like sea salt, garlic powder and dill weed). Put the chopped vegetables on top. No need for separate containers. The veggies are already in the dip and ready to go. Try making your own ranch, too.
Fruit on the bottom yogurt
Use fresh or frozen fruit and a touch of sweetener for the fruity part of the yogurt. Top it with plain, whole milk yogurt or coconut yogurt. When it’s time for lunch simply mix and enjoy.
Trail mix is great for fostering creativity in the kitchen. Let your child pick what they want to add to the mix. Then pop the lid on and shake! Some of our favorite additions are homemade kettle corn granola, dried fruit, crispy nuts and coconut.
Apples with dip
Another lunch component that allows for creativity is fruit dip. You can go with something simple like natural peanut butter, almond butter or sunbutter. Or you can make a dip using yogurt or sour cream and your favorite sweetener. Better yet, add some vegetables to your dip using any version of this easy pumpkin butter. If you don’t like or don’t have apples on hand grapes, pears, pineapple and strawberries are great for dipping too.
Tuna, salmon or chicken salad
One of my daughter’s favorite lunches by far is chicken or salmon salad. We use homemade Miracle Whip® or Katie’s homemade mayo and a little seasoning mixed with the meat. You can follow a simple recipe like this salmon salad or create your own version using crispy nuts, dried fruit, celery or avocado. Serve it with chips, crackers or veggies for dipping or simply eat it with a spoon.
I like to think of fruit salad as “let’s see what we can use up from the refrigerator” salad. Any fruit will work. Serve it plain or drizzle honey on top. Or you can really spruce it up with some plain yogurt along with the honey.
A smoothie may not seem like something a kid can make. But in reality it is the perfect item for kids to prepare. You just dump whatever you like in the blender and turn it on. There isn’t even any measuring required.
My daughter checked out a kids cookbook from the library and enjoyed using a smoothie recipe from it to guide her in creating her own smoothie. She was so proud to make it by herself and to share it with her brother.
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Not all kids are big fans of lettuce. But if they get to make their own salad and have something to shake up before they eat it they just might have a different opinion. Plus salad does not have to be boring. Add your favorite dressing and toppings like dried fruit, croutons, raw vegetables, crispy nuts and cooked meat.
Put the dressing in the bottom of the jar. Add the lettuce and toppings and put the lid on. At lunch time simply shake and eat.
Chips with guacamole
My kids go crazy over guacamole. Especially when they make it! We go the easy route by mixing mashed avocado and homemade salsa. Use your favorite chips or raw vegetables for dipping.
Store-bought Lunchables® are basically processed food in expensive plastic. But kids love them for the fun factor! No need to go without. Just make your own.
Make a batch of homemade lunch meat. Then let your kids use a knife or a cookie cutter to cut the meat and cheese into fun shapes. Layer them in a jar with your favorite store-bought or homemade crackers and a fun, healthy lunch is ready.
These are just a few of the many ways to make lunch preparation into a fun task for kids. Let them get creative and come up with more mason jar lunches.
You can always warm homemade soup and pour it in a jar before packing it (this will be a task for mom or dad if your child is younger). Any time you can get your kids to consume nourishing broth is a win! Make it fun by pairing it with a homemade muffin or crackers with cheese.
This year put a stop to the boring lunch complaints and that one more thing on your to-do list. Get those kids in the kitchen and let them start packing their own mason jar lunches.
All you need are jars, lids, real food and some creativity. It may take a little extra work the first few times you show your kids how to do the prep work. But after that you can let them take over so you can focus on other things. Or just sit there as a proud parent and watch your kids mature right before your eyes.
Maybe they’ll even make lunch for you!
Kids Cook Real Food eCourse
My kids have loved every class as we work through the whole Kids Cook Real Food eCourse.
A gift from our family to yours!
My 4 kids and I created the Kids Cook Real Food eCourse to help bring real food and independence to families all over. Over 10,000 kids have joined us and we want to share the love – please grab your FREE copy of
10 Snacks Your Kids Can Make
Packed with our favorites for the road, like
- Pumpkin Pie Bars (grain-free)
- Homemade Granola Bars
- Fruit Juice “Gellies” (like gummy snacks but real food!)
- Energy Bites (pictured below)
Read more about it here…and a little tip – you may also get a chance to grab a knife skills class for kids for a ridiculous discount, so watch out for that!!