By the time your kids are teens, they have been eating lunch at school for quite a while. You have probably been lovingly cutting the crust off of their peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for many years, too. As kids get older and gain more independence, you also may have relegated the chore of packing lunch to your children themselves. When given the choice to pack their own lunch or buy something, most teens will choose to buy lunch at school. You also may be hearing, “But, Mom! Nobody packs lunch anymore!” or “Lunchboxes are lame!”

Once kids hit high school, lunchrooms also become more like a food court. Sure, there are healthy choices because official school lunches must follow nutritional guidelines, but there are many traps in the lunchroom, too. Many schools also serve pizza, burgers, fries, cookies, muffins, chips and more every single day. When given the choice between a slice of pepperoni with a side of tater tots or turkey on whole wheat with tomato and lettuce with a side of baby carrots and skim milk, which will your teen choose?

How can you get your teens to want to pack their own nutritious lunch? Check out our top reasons why packing your own lunch is cool.

411 for Students

Food Preferences

Don’t like chicken pot pie or Salisbury steak? No problem—pack your own lunch. Hate the dressing on the served salad or you are more of a buttered noodle vs. tomato sauce gal? Pack your own lunch. You get the idea! When you pack your own lunch, you can have more control over your own lunchtime experience.


High school is busy. Gone are the days of recess and storytime during elementary school. Lunchroom lines can be long. Often, by the time you make your way through the line, lunch is almost over. When packing your own lunch, you instantly get more opportunities to chill with your friends.


Athletes need to have a bit of control over what fuels their bodies, especially during their competition season. Perhaps a wrestler needs to eat a low-calorie diet, a football player needs to bulk up or a runner needs to carb-load before a race.The best way to assure that youget the right nutrition is to pack a lunch from home.

411 for Parents


While many school lunches are subsidized or free for certain individuals, buying lunch every day can get expensive. One way to tempt a teen, especially one who needs to put gas in a car or fund nights out, is to break it down in dollars and cents. Offer a set amount of money each week and tell your teens that you will provide everything they need to pack a nutritious lunch. They can choose to buy lunch at school with the money provided or, if they pack, they can keep the funds at the end of the week.You will have to ensure that they are purchasing a nutritious lunch at school, though.Your teen can’t just buy the cheapest item on the menu or the deal is off.

Get Some Inspiration

So, your teens are convinced to pack his or her own lunch, but are stumped on what to pack? Rely on the experts! Follow Bento Bloggers for a wealth of information and ideas on packing nutritious and delicious lunches. Or hop over to Dana Shafir’s Facebook page for a full year’s worth of healthy packed lunch ideas.