My kids make their own lunch*. (*unless, due to being vertically challenged, they need help with reaching stuff) Every family does things differently for a myriad of reasons. At our house, the kids pick one day a week to get hot lunch, and the rest of the week they bring their own. And they make it themselves, which in my opinion, helps foster independence and encourages them to think about what they will be putting into their growing bodies around noon-time.
There are some growing pains associated with this. When my oldest was in Kindergarten, I always made her lunch. When she was in 2nd grade and my twins were in Kindergarten, I started encouraging them to help. Now, I have a 5th grader, a pair of 3rd graders, and a Kindergartener, and they make their own. The full transition happened a couple of years ago, and I foggily remember a great deal of complaining at first. But now that it's part of our routine I'm sooooo glad.
There are some "loose" rules. Some type of fruit or vegetable is required. There needs to be a variety. And only one treat. I've read many blogs about having nothing processed in the lunch, but in our world of the kids having sports, homework, piano practice, daily chores, and me trying to start my own business, you gotta give somewhere. If the homemade bread gets made, great, if not, there's plan B. The last thing I want my kids to do is to totally obsess over all of the processed treats out there, and go nuts over them as soon as they get the chance. (Although I'm sure they already do.) Everything in moderation, right?
So, what's for lunch you might ask? With 4 unique kiddos, it's quite the smorgasbord. One prefers leftovers, and given that she's only 44 inches tall, I help quite a bit with warming things up for the thermos. They all cut their own fruits and veggies (kid safe knives are great!). If I've made banana bread, it's usually in someone's lunch. Did I say leftovers? Sandwiches aren't usually a big hit, unless I've made homemade bread and then they're all in. Apparently I've spoiled them. And there are frequently a variety of granola bars "in case I didn't pack enough and am still hungry". Here's an example from one morning that I remembered to take pictures!
Kid #1: Homemade peanut-butter on store-bought bread, yellow bell pepper strips, strawberries, and a coconut macaroon made by another sibling.
Kid #2: Three slices of homemade whole wheat banana bread, a slice or two of rolled up turkey breast, left-over frozen peas, an applesauce cup, whole-grain Goldfish, and some unknown granola bar.
Kid #3: Leftover rice noodles and veggies, cheddar cheese stick, blueberries, and semi-sweet chocolate chips.
Kid #4: Turkey and cheese sandwich on Italian bread, strawberries and blueberries, applesauce, Nature Valley granola bar and semi-sweet chocolate chips.