School Lunches Grocery List


School in our district starts next week. While I look forward to the structure the school year affords my work schedule, I am NOT looking forward to packing lunches every day and making sure I have everything I need to feed three growing kids, each with his and her own food preferences. I hadn’t even gone shopping yet, and I was starting to get overwhelmed.

Then I had a brilliant idea.

Okay, it’s probably not brilliant at all, and I’m sure it’s nothing new to some of you, but for some reason it hadn’t ever occurred to me before.

I told my kids to sit down and make a grocery list for me.


They are to list everything they can think of that they would like me to have in the house for their school lunches. They were instructed to make it as specific as possible — brands, flavors, everything. There is nothing worse than thinking I’m doing a great deed by picking up a special product, only to get home and find out it is the wrong flavor. ARGH!

I am not promising to buy everything on their lists, but I will take them into consideration when making my master grocery list. And I can keep them on hand for those times when we get in a rut and I begin to feel stumped for new ideas.

This little exercise in making their own grocery lists that was designed with the sole purpose of making my life easier, as it turns out, is giving me oodles of educational opportunities.

As they started making their lists, I noticed that everything came in a box or bag, so I told them that for every one packaged food, they have to write down a real food.

This inspired a lively discussion about what is real food and what is not. (I’d love to tell you that I don’t buy anything with a barcode, and that I make everything from scratch or grow it in my backyard, but I’m just not that mom. So I am doing my best to teach my kids the difference and find some middle ground that I’m comfortable with.)

For the packaged items, I showed them how to decipher the ingredients labels, and we talked about how to determine which ones are more nutritious based on the amounts and types of ingredients listed.

Of course, that didn’t prevent them from putting Oreos (Nabisco) on their list. (They included Nabisco because the only “oreos” I am likely to buy are the Newman-O’s.)


As I said, I am the one doing the shopping, but at least this gives me some ideas. And hopefully they learned a few things in the process.

How do you keep lunches fresh during the school year? I’d love to get some new ideas!