• Kids,  Parenting

    How To Get Your Kids Involved In Planning School Lunches

    How To Get Your Kids Involved In Planning (and making!) School Lunches



    Back To School!

    It’s almost that time of year again… back to school! And with BTS comes the dreaded… school lunches.

    School Lunches

    I was tired of food coming home from school un-eaten and getting chucked into the garbage because it had gone bad. I was sick of listening to kids complain that they didn’t like what was in their lunch. I was upset that I was putting effort into lunches and they just didn’t appreciate it. So last fall I came up with a plan!

    Everyone Gets a Turn

    The kids and I each take turns preparing school lunches. Three of them plus one of me = each of us prepare lunches for one week per month. The person on lunch duty for the week is responsible for choosing what they make. Usually on the Friday or Sunday before a new week starts, I ask what is required for groceries and then they take it from there.

    Why it Works for Us

    It gives the kids a whole new perspective and appreciation for school lunches.

    They love that they get to choose the food.

    And they sure enjoy three weeks off after preparing lunches for one week.

    Much less food comes home at the end of the day.

    It forces them to think about each other. If Cooper puts mustard on Keira’s sandwich when he knows she doesn’t like it, then he can bet she is going to put cheese in his sandwich the following week because she knows Cooper doesn’t like cheese in his sandwich! It only took them a few weeks to realize that if they considered each other when packing lunches, then the thoughtfulness would be returned in the following weeks.


    Improving our plan…

    Looking back on the past school year, the only thing my school lunch plan lacked was: What the heck to put in the lunches!?

    I created this list of all the school lunch items my kids like to eat. Coming up with something other than sandwiches is a struggle at times. Nuts are not allowed. And microwaves are not available at school anymore.

    I will print it, laminate it and hang it inside one of the cabinet doors. This way we can take a quick peek at it when we need some inspiration. I think it will save tons of time planning each week and it’ll help with having fresh ideas instead of the same old thing week after week. With a brief glance at this list it shouldn’t be hard to come up with a grocery list.

    With the way I have organized/categorized our list, the kids can pick one item from each category. Five items per lunch is plenty enough food for them for an average day at school.

    Enjoy this free download:ย schoollunchplanningcraftsmaninthecountry

    Please let me know if your family has any school lunch strategies or tips! I’d love to hear about how you do school lunches.

    Happy Back to School! And happy lunch making!

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  • Kids,  Parenting

    Why we are tough on our kids

    Why are we so tough on our kids? Because we want them to grow into darn decent humans! That’s why.




    Do we expect a lot from them? Absolutely.
    Chores? Heck yes.
    Are they capable of working hard? You bet.
    Is building a strong family unit important to us? Unbelievably.
    Have our children financially contributed towards vacations in the past? For sure.
    Are they allowed to have any fun? It’s frowned upon. I kid. I kid. Work hard to play harder right?



    Recently it was brought to my attention that the parents of my daughter’s friend called my husband and I ‘uptight’. When my daughter first told me this, I was offended. But once I thought about it, I decided I was going to take it as a compliment. I’d rather be called an uptight parent than a complacent parent. I’d rather have rules in place that my children accept and respect than have my children grow up without responsibilities or discipline.


    The things we teach them to do for themselves will guide them towards becoming strong, independent, caring and hopefully wise individuals. And all those things will help them become the very best they can be.




    Yup they do chores. And lots of them.

    Who cleans the toilet in our house? The one that makes the biggest mess of it – Cooper, our eight year old. He takes two cleaning wipes and two paper towel and off he goes. That boy gets the toilet spotless. Because what’s worse than cleaning the toilet? Cleaning the toilet twice! When it comes to scrubbing the inside of the toilet bowl, that is my job. This mama is not having two big sisters chased around the house with a wet toilet brush. No way.



    They always seem find a way to make chores interesting. From dusting the furniture one minute to pretending to be an animal with a fuzzy tail the next. From vacuuming the floor to vacuuming each other. From spraying sinks to spraying the dog! From folding laundry to trying on dad’s clothes. But with a little persuasion (sometimes a lot!) the job eventually gets done.



    Keira puts a bit more effort into her chores now. She has learnt the hard way that the faster she gets done, the more free time she will have. She loves to drag her feet but she is slowly realizing the benefit of just completing what is expected of her and moving on with her day.






    After cleaning her room without being asked, Keira walked out and said to me “You’re right mom. Having a clean room does feel good”. Um… Heck YES girl! Mountain climbed. Messaged delivered. Gold star. Adding this triumph to my very short ‘mom win’ list immediately.


    This past September I made a school lunch schedule. Each of the kids plus myself were assigned one week per month of making school lunches. If it was Presley’s week, she’d give me a list of groceries she needed and then she was responsible each evening for preparing lunches for herself and her siblings. One week her food request included take-out pizza from Panago, strawberries and carrots. Hmmm – lazy! But smart! So pizza, strawberries and carrots is what she got and that is what they ate in their lunches for the majority of her week.

    The four of us maintained our lunch making schedule throughout most of the school year. Success! But then came June and any hankering for creative and nutricious lunches was been replaced by 98 cent lunchables from Walmart and watermelon slices. June school lunches will never be equal to September school lunches. And that’s just the way it is. To improve this process for the upcoming school year, I will hang up a list of lunch items that they can take a quick look at for inspiration.



    In our house, bedrooms have to be spotless before friends can come over. Since the kids were toddlers, they’ve been expected to help tidy up before a play-date AND as soon as it’s over. It was always amazing to me the massive amount of toys a couple of preschoolers could haul out in such a short time.



    Naturally, kids are selfish. They can’t help it. It just is what it is. It is my job to make sure they don’t become selfish adults. Or at least try my hardest! It is one of our biggest parenting struggles right now… Teaching them that they are not the only ones that have needs and feelings. Attempting to make them realize that life doesn’t revolve around only themselves. Demonstrating that if they want stuff done for them that they need to be willing to do stuff for others. The importance of this issue increases as we quickly approach the teen years! We are hoping that by maintaining a strong family unit, we will survive raising three teenagers and come out even stronger in the end.



    Just like my husband and I save up for vacations, the kids do too. Whether their earnings go towards souvenirs, treats, or airfare, we all save together as a family. For our last big holiday, each of the kids had to save up and contribute $200.00 towards the trip. Obviously this a pretty tiny amount of money compared to what a Hawaiian vacation for five costs, but to the kids, $200 is a lot of money when it is their own. And it took a long time for them to save that much! But they all did it and they were all proud of themselves.


    My husband constantly reminds me that our kids will only be little for a short time and before we know it they’ll be grown and moving out. As frustrating as some days get, I am trying my best to relax and not sweat the small stuff.

    As important as it is to raise respectful, considerate and generous humans, it is also so important to enjoy every moment and make the moments count.



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  • Kids,  Parenting

    A Lesson – Responsibility and Appreciation

    Responsibility and Appreciation – Building Life Skills

    Our three little darlings recently had a five day weekend. In an attempt to provide them with just an ounce of appreciation towards the process of meal time, I devised a plan.

    The Big Idea

    They were each responsible for one full day of cooking. At eight, almost ten and close to twelve years old, I know they are capable of preparing a simple meal with minimal assistance and supervision.

    I sat them down with a notepad and they each got to work making a menu of their choosing and a grocery list.ย One breakfast, lunch and supper each. With a quick inventory of the fridge and freezer, I challenged them to use up what we already had on hand.

    The girls even stepped it up a notch and planned one dessert for their day. I’m not going to pretend I didn’t think about making each kid pay for their groceries too, because I did! But… baby steps people.

    The Great Grocery Shop

    The majority of my shopping is done while all of the small fries are in school. I don’t even feel the need to explain why… I know you know. But, in the spirit of a Friday off school and teaching a little gratefulness, the four of us headed to the grocery store.

    We fumbled our way up and down isles, some isles more than once, fulfilling lists. With three impatient kids reading off what they required, none knowing where things were located, it was a bit hectic but we survived. By the time we had completed our grocery run they were ready for lunch and the playground.

    Responsibility and Appreciation

    If you are thinking it was nice for me to have three days off from the kitchen and put my feet up while someone else did the cooking… very funny. Not quite. I said minimal assistance and supervision. And lets not forget about the mess. Lots of mess. But this valuable life lesson was soooo worth the mess. I stayed back as mush as possible, only stepping in when necessary – like the moment my daughter went to get the huge BBQ spatula to flip her pancakes. And when my son was eating more salami than he was putting on his pizzas. And when Presley wouldn’t get off her butt to make supper.

    I came in the house from working outside to find my oldest hadn’t pre-heated the oven 20 minutes earlier like she was instructed. I turned the oven on, but then caught myself in a teachable moment and turned it off. Realizing – nope – this was not part of the lesson. I found her lounging downstairs without a care in the world, too lazy to go up and turn on the oven. So I sat on the edge of her bed and gave her a small taste of her own medicine. “I’m starving.” “When will supper be ready?” “What are you making?” She smirked and proceeded upstairs to make delicious chicken wraps that we finally got to eat at almost 7:30pm.

    My middle mite was enthusiastic about her day of cooking. The other two, not as much. But they did what was expected of them with only a little persuasion.

    Weekend in Review

    Moving forward, my hope is that they respect the effort that goes into planning, shopping and mealtime. We will definitely do this again. Maybe make it a regular thing. It is important to my husband and I that our children grow up to be hard working, non-entitled individuals. This five day weekend may not have been the adventurous and exciting weekend the kids had hoped for. And even though they don’t realize it yet, I am positive that this weekend of cooking and family time will, in some small way, assist in molding successful adults.


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