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Much to the dismay of children everywhere, a new school year is fast approaching, and with it comes another year of school lunches. But rather than making your children’s lunches for them, why not let them do it themselves? Allowing children to make their own lunches creates a sense of independence and creates more choices for kids, especially for picky eaters. It can also be a great way to bond with your child if you’re supervising. We spoke to an expert about five school lunches kids can make themselves.

Terra Betters

Terra Betters has always enjoyed working with children, which led her to pursue a Master’s degree in Infant Mental Health Counseling from Chatham University in Pittsburgh. She has experience working with behavorial mental health and childhood development, as well as experience working in day cares. She’s used food as a way of helping some of the children she’s worked with, and she shared some of that experience with us.

Rice Cakes With Cream Cheese And Fruit

Cover a rice cake with cream cheese then top with fruit. For a little more fun, kids can make the fruit into the shape of a face, which can even be used an exercise to discuss how the child is feeling by asking them to make a face expressing how they feel. For a healthier alternative, try reduced-fat cream cheese or yogurt.

Greek Ranch Veggie Dip

Mix a container of Greek yogurt with dry Ranch dressing mix until combined, then dip veggies and enjoy. You could also use dry mixes other than Ranch, and best of all, it’s fast and easy.

Banana And Peanut Butter Sandwiches

This one’s a classic we’re all familiar with — spread peanut butter on bread, then top with bananas. For a fun, delicious mini version, try spreading the peanut butter on the banana slices themselves and assembling into small banana and peanut-butter sandwiches. As an alternative to peanut butter, you could also try sunflower-seed butter, almond butter, or Nutella.

Related: 5 Ways To Prep For School Before The First Day

Trail Mix

It doesn’t get much easier than trail mix, with a quick prep time and a few simple ingredients. Try mixes with raisins or other dried fruits, Goldfish crackers, Chex cereal, Life cereal, Cheerios, square pretzels or pretzel sticks, nuts, sunflower seeds, popcorn, and M&Ms or other sweets like chocolate chips, mini marshmallows, etc. Use your imagination — or let your child use theirs — and include anything they want.


For something a little different, try kabobs. Like trail mix, let kids use their imagination and include whatever they want–although such things as fruit and cheese are great choices. Assembling the kabob can also help develop fine motor skills.

Related: 5 Traditions To Start Your Back To School Routine

Janelle Sheetz is a 20-something closed-captioner by day, writer by night, just outside of Pittsburgh. She also regularly contributes to and, and her writing has also been featured on The Billfold and Neutrons Protons.