Lunch. It’s something we enjoy every day, and if your child is at school you’re likely helping your child pack one. We’re here to help you turn this often mundane chore into a fun, healthy, eco-friendly, Montessori-style part of your child’s day.
Pack it up!
As you likely know, Montessori schools rely on the use of natural materials. In our classrooms we tend to use materials made of wood, glass, and natural fibers. Although it’s not always possible, we think it’s great when families find ways to incorporate the same approach into lunches.
Let’s start with the lunch bag itself. You can pick one of these up almost anywhere, and it’s a great idea to have your child reuse the same one from year to year. Find something durable. Some families pack the types of lunches that would benefit from having an insulated bag, so consider that as well.
Are you crafty? Want to create something really unique? Check out this tutorial that will teach you how to sew a paper bag-inspired reusable lunch bag:
Whatever bag you choose, it’s helpful to have some reusable containers that fit inside. Many families find stainless steel to be an ideal option for their children, as it’s more eco-friendly than plastic, but a lot less likely to break than glass! Here are some models that have worked great:
LunchBots offer a wide array of shapes, sizes, and configurations. Choosing a couple different boxes to pack together allows you space for a sandwich on one box, and fruits, veggies, and whatever else in another.
PlanetBox provides an all-in-one solution. The stainless container opens to reveal multiple compartments for different foods. They come in various sizes, and kids love choosing the customizable magnets that decorate the outside.
Multi-tiered bento boxes, like this one, are another great option. The metal clamps pull off to release 2-3 layers. This makes it easy to pack different types of food in a small space without everything getting mixed up.
The actual contents of the lunch are the most important part. Involve your child in the planning process as much as possible and you will find them much more likely to eat what you pack. Keep these tips in mind when you get ready to shop:
Ask your child what vegetables they would like for the week.
Chop vegetables up on Sunday night so you can grab a handful daily.
Always keep favorites on hand. Does your child love peanut butter and jelly? Make it your go-to and have plenty of everything you need.
Use leftovers: dinner can become lunch!
Buy lots of fruit. Kids love it!
Think about extra protein options that will keep your child’s energy up throughout the afternoon.
These lists may be helpful if you’re looking for inspiration.
Note: It is very important to know about allergy policies for your child’s classroom. Some of the items on this list may not be safe for every child.
Nuts (*Be aware of classroom allergies*)
Please pack a small cloth napkin and placemat for your child to use. It’s okay to pack two cloth napkins with the intention that one will be used as a placemat. When groups of children sit together at lunch, there isn’t room for a full-sized placemat. You can use whatever you already have at home or find them just about anywhere.
If the food you pack requires cutlery, please pack some of the reusable variety. You can use what you already have at home, but if you are looking for a nice child-sized option, these are lovely:
Some classrooms have cups for children to drink from, but it can be nice to pack them a reusable water bottle for lunch as well.
Most lunches won’t require an ice pack, but in case you include something that may spoil it doesn’t hurt to have one or two small ones in the freezer.
Do you have any lunch tips or ideas to share with us? Let us know!