Taking charge of making lunch for school—or, in the summer, work or camp—will help your teenager build some key skills for the future, including basic food preparation, grocery shopping, nutritional know-how, and time management. Preparing their own food is a step forward in preparing your teen for independence. Forward this article to your teenager. Remember, now you are the coach, not the player. Stand on the sidelines and offer advice, but let your teenager do the work.
1. Shopping List. Give mom or dad a list of the food you need to make your lunch Monday to Friday. Parents: Be sure your fridge is stocked for Monday morning. Also, the shopping list is a great opportunity to help your teenager learn what goes into a healthy lunch (e.g. not all snack food).
2. Plan. Make sure that you have 10-15 minutes set aside in the morning to put your lunch together (and clean up the kitchen before leaving for school). If waking up earlier is too difficult, consider making your lunch the night before.
3. Pack Smart. Make a lunch that will satisfy you and keep you going until you get home. This could be a sandwich, fruit, and a granola bar or chips. Or it could even be leftovers from last night’s dinner. Whatever it is, make sure you use appropriate containers (ideally, re-useable containers). For example, if you’d like your pasta to still be warm when you eat it, use a thermos. When it’s warm outside or if you’re packing yogurt, cheese, meat or other items that should stay cool, consider using a cold pack.
Don’t forget a drink, a napkin and utensils if you need them.
4. Prepare for Tomorrow. When you get home, unpack your lunch bag, then wash and dry containers, so you can use them again tomorrow.