By Hillarie Cox, Yikes Tikes! Board member
My kids never ate the lunches I packed for them to take to preschool. No matter how interesting I made them (sandwiches cut into train shapes for my son), they always came back half eaten; until my friend told me, “Your kids need to be making their own lunches.” I didn’t believe her. Could preschoolers really make their own lunches? I decided to try it out. And what I discovered was life-changing.
I started by making a chart of the food items I had available for my two kids, Griffin (5) and Kennedy (3). I created a written chart of their choices, broken down into 4 categories: dairy, grain, protein and fruit/vegetables. The chart suggested juice or water for drink choices. I added photographs of each item (I found them using Google searches) so they could easily “read” the chart.
Then I prepped my kids. I built up great excitement about how they were so grown up that they were now able to make their own lunches for school. I decided to have them make their lunches the night before they needed them. Then I introduced the chart, pointing out their choices and the pictures. They excitedly chose one item from each category. I had them get the food that they were able to get (juice/water, applesauce pouches, etc.), and I helped them with the trickier parts (lunchmeat in containers and pretzels in bags). When they were done, I had them put their lunches in the refrigerator for the next day.
I couldn’t believe how easy it was. Sure, there was a good amount of prep work on my part. And I had to manage two very excited kids and keep them focused on the task at hand. But with just a little effort on my part, I began training my kids to make healthy food choices and become more responsible. And most importantly, they ate what they packed themselves.