If you’re tired of making lunches your kids won’t eat, getting them to build their own lunches can help streamline your morning routine and increase the odds their lunchbox comes home empty. From shopping for the right ingredients to choosing the right lunchbox, there are many strategies that can set your family up for lunchtime success.

Take Them Shopping

The first step in getting your kids to help pack their own lunch starts at the grocery store. Have your child make a list of their favourite lunch foods, and then let them navigate the grocery store with you for those items. Commit to trying one new item from the produce department each week and talk to them about what makes a balanced meal. Knowledge is power, and this is true for food and meal prepping.

Make Packing Fun

If you think packing lunches is a boring chore, chances are your little one will too. One way to shake this stereotype is to make packing lunches fun. Pick up some cute and colourful reusable containers and bags, pop on your little one’s favourite songs, and make an assembly line where you can all pitch in together packing their midday meal.

Use a Bento Box/Snack Box

One way to get your kids to pack and eat their lunch is to stop calling it lunch! For whatever reason, kids seem to balk at the concept of eating a proper meal, but fully embrace a snack situation. The snacks-as-a-meal trend is having its moment right now, with parents using everything from muffin tins to plastic craft boxes to hold a variety of tasty eats for their kiddos. Have your child fill Bento box compartments with foods they enjoy – such as crackers, dried fruit and add some cheese, a hardboiled egg, and cucumber or apple slices for a balanced meal. Don’t forget a dip or two like hummus or seed butter for even more kid-friendly fun.

Keep Items Accessible

If kids can’t reach it, they can’t pack it, so leave ample supplies of storage containers and food options where your kids can access them. Once they know where everything is, get them into the routine of putting their lunch together at the same time every day – before bed the night before or after breakfast on the day of are both good options.

Shake up Lunch with New Recipes

Another way to get kids excited about packing their own lunch is to try making a new recipe together. Research shows that children are more likely to eat food that they’ve taken a role in preparing, so let them practice their measuring and mixing skills with a kid-friendly recipe. A medley of sweet, dried strawberries, apples and yogurt-covered raisins are right at home with crunchy crackers, roasted pumpkin seeds and puffed rice cereal. Make a double batch, because this snack will be popular on the playground.