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Back to School Lunches

Can you believe it’s time for school again? If you pack your child’s lunch, you might be facing the dilemma of finding something healthy and quick. It may seem a bit overwhelming at first, but with some planning you can pack your kids a healthy, tasty lunch in no time.

So what is a healthy lunch? An energy-packed lunch combines lean proteins (turkey breast, grilled chicken, tuna, beans and low-fat dairy) with high-fiber carbohydrates (fruits, veggies and whole grains). Add in a small amount of healthy fat (nuts, nut butters, avocados and hummus) to help keep hunger under control until it’s time to eat again. Growing kids—and adults—need to eat low-fat dairy foods several times a day too, so think of lunch as a great opportunity for to squeeze it in.

How do you build a healthy lunch? Just mix and match from each of the groups below:

Wholegrains/Starches:

  • Wholegrain crackers or pretzels
  • Wholewheat bread or tortilla
  • Wholewheat sandwich thin or bagel thin
  • Wholewheat pasta twirls
  • Cooked ball of wild or brown rice
  • Low-fat popcorn (Vic’s)
  • Granola bar (with at least 3 g fiber)

Lean Proteins:

  • Deli turkey or ham
  • Grilled chicken breast strips
  • Beans, including edamame
  • Peanut butter
  • 100-calories pack of nuts
  • Low-fat cheese made with 2% milk
  • Low-fat cottage cheese cup (Breakstone’s)

Fruits:

  • Apple slices or chunks (dip in pineapple or orange juice to prevent browning)
  • Mixed berries
  • Cherries
  • Grapes
  • Melon chunks
  • Dried fruit
  • Orange or Clementine wedges
  • Canned fruit cup, in it’s own juice

Veggies:

  • Carrot sticks
  • Sugar snap peas
  • Cucumber coins
  • Sweet pepper strips
  • Celery sticks
  • Grape tomatoes

Dairy:

  • Light fat-free yogurt
  • Low-fat yogurt tube (Yoplait Go-Gurt)
  • 1% milk box (Horizon Farms, shelf stable)
  • Low-fat cheeses (Light Babybel, The Laughing Cow light, light string cheese)

Healthy Fats:

  • Nuts
  • Nut butters
  • Hummus
  • Guacamole
  • Low-fat dressings and dips

Here’s a quick tip: Get your child involved in packing their own lunch. This way they will be more likely to eat it and enjoy it!

And, it’s okay to throw in an occasional treat. In nutrition jargon, we call that a “sometimes” food. Just try not to overdo it!

Make lunchtime even more fun for your kids with little notes. It will give them something cool to look forward to and put a smile on their faces. Create your own or click this link for some notes with fun, healthy messages:

What are some of your favorite lunch box ideas? Please share them by leaving a comment below.

For more information on nutrition consultations visit our website or call 972.560.2655.

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