Front Range mom and foodie blogger Annie Brown believes she has discovered a magic solution to the daily sack lunch conundrum – enlisting her kids.

It used to be once back-to-school season hit, I was constantly scouring the web for the latest, greatest, healthiest and easiest ideas to ease the daily burden of making school lunches.

Obviously, as a food blogger, I love to cook. But school lunch prep was just drudgery.

And then about three years ago, it occurred to me: “Ah ha! I know the magic solution – have them make their own lunches!”

How do they do it? They know that each lunch must contain one serving of the following:

  • Vegetable (the usual: carrot, cucumber, red bell pepper, cherry tomatoes)
  • Protein (the usual: tofu cubed and to-go packet of soy sauce, peanut butter/honey sandwich, ham rolled up with cheese cubes, leftover beans/rice or pasta)
  • Fruit (the usual: whatever is in season)
  • Healthy salty snack (the usual: Pirate’s Booty, tamari almonds, pretzels, seaweed)
  • Little sweetie (the usual: homemade cookie, small piece of chocolate)
  • Bottle of water (no fruit juice)

Lunch for the next day is made after dinner. The girls divide and conquer. Each girl takes two items to make. The breakdown is usually “fruit and little sweetie” and “vegetable and healthy salty snack”  and they split making the protein.

The youngest is bound to wail at least once a week: “It’s too hard!!” or she’ll stomp her feet and yell, “I hate making lunch!” I nod in sympathy and tell her I understand, but I’m sure she’ll be hungry the next day if her lunch box is empty. This usually brings up even more gnashing of teeth, but eventually she pulls it together and lunch gets made.

Sure, sometimes it’s actually more difficult this way and there are nights when we do pitch in to help them out if we’re out late or there’s too much going on. But in general, they are in control – the trick to composing a healthy lunch is only have healthy options available in the house.  The payoff? Today I have two girls who not only know their way around the kitchen, but they also understand what makes a balanced meal. And yes, yes, I know you don’t need a little sweetie or salty treat, but it sure does make lunch a little more fun.

And with them making their own lunch, I have more time to write really sappy love notes to sneak into their boxes before they head off school.

School lunch bag image courtesy of BigStock Photo.