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  • Writer's pictureAiysha Hall

What's for Lunch: Personalized Menus Your Kids Will Love

Make lunch fun with personalized menus.

My kids love eating out, and if they had their way, they'd eat Chick-fil-a every day. But they have me as a mama...not happening. So, when I came across these clear dry erase pockets in the dollar section at Target, it gave me an idea I knew they'd love: personalized lunch menus! What better way to give them all the feels of going to a restaurant without actually spending the money to eat at one?

We're not anti-restaurants, but I'm from the days when eating out was a special treat typically reserved for Fridays and Saturdays -- the only time my parents were willing to drive nearly 30 minutes from Rogers Park into downtown Chicago just for deep dish pizza. (Totally worth the drive and the wait, by the way.) Our busy schedules sometimes force us to deviate from our Friday-Saturday rule, but most days, Cafe Hall, as we call our kitchen, is in full operation.

Giordano's Pizza
Giordano's Pizza. Photo credit: Matt Antonio, Unsplash

Building the menu

When building the menu, I found that simple is the name of the game. Making it too complicated would result in the kids dreading making their lunches, and the whole point was to make this fun. The basic framework includes what you'd typically see on a restaurant menu: entrees, sides, drinks and dessert, plus fruits and veggies because, well, these are a must.

Entrees. The kids have set selections Monday through Friday. I started with three options per day but have since narrowed it down to two because any more than that makes the decision-making process that much more difficult. Just to switch it up a bit, one day of the week is reserved for hot lunch items.

Fruits. Seasonal or packaged the kiddos are required to pick at least two.

Vegetables. The pickings are slim in the veggie category, but I managed to find a few they like. The goal is to eat at least one.

Sweets and Sides. For obvious reasons, the kids are limited to one selection from each category, but I included enough options so that they never pick the same thing twice. This also keeps them from devouring, say a bag of chips or snack cakes before the week is out.

Drinks. Around here, the go to beverage is water, but what's a kid's lunch without juice or milk?

Why these personalized menus work

Aside from saving time, these personalized lunch menus work well for a few reasons:

My kids have the power to choose. Nothing screams "I'm a big kid" more than kids being able to choose and prepare the foods they'll eat. And by me building the menu, I can be confident that their choices will be good ones.

They save money. Everything on the menu is built into our grocery budget, and what I spend in store goes a lot further than what I'd spend at a restaurant.

I don't have to make lunches. Yay! With these menus in place, the kids have the responsibility of making their selections and then making lunches every night. And in the spirit of looking out for one another, they're encouraged to make to make each other's lunches, rather than making their own. Now, if they could do it with just half the mess! Happy eating!

Want your own printable lunch menu? Download your free copy now.

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