Healthy Packed Lunch: it’s Back to School Kids!
It’s that time of year again – back to school for kids! What’s the biggest question on every caregiver’s mind? Healthy Packed Lunch ideas for kids.
What should I pack my kid for lunch?
There’s no simple answer. Luckily, there are several ways to simplify things. That means less stress for the parents and caregivers, more action and less frustration on what to pack. Below are 5 tips to consider when choosing foods to pack. If you stick with these simple rules, you should only have to run to the grocery store once a week!
- Staple Foods
Keep these foods available (always) in your kitchen. They are cost friendly and do not have to be refrigerated.
- Bread, pita or wraps
- Tip – look for terms on the label like “100% whole wheat”, or “100% whole grain”. If it just says “wheat bread”, it’s likely mostly made of white flour
- Try to keep avocados, peanut butter (or almond butter) and hummus available and use them as spreads rather than condiments, like mayonnaise.
- If your kids aren’t big fans of hummus, use any dip. Some veggies are better than no veggies. Here’s my recipe for Almond Oatmeal Drops – No Bake
3. Vegetables & Fruit
Try to include one fruit and one vegetable in each lunch. Focus on the vegetables you know your child loves. If your child dislikes vegetables – sneak them in! Make muffins packed with zucchini or carrots. Pick a day and check out your local farmer’s market – they usually have the best “in-season and cost-friendly”, selection.
- Tomatoes for sandwiches
- Carrots, cucumbers, celery & peppers to enjoy with dip or spreads
- Blueberries, strawberries, raspberries. All good. Cut up apple slices to enjoy with a side of peanut butter. Oranges, bananas, grapes. All easy to slice up and place in a plastic bag the night before.
- Dried Fruit – this I really recommend, but it small portions. About ¼ a cup of dried fruit = 1 serving or fruit. Make sure you read the label for any added sugars and choose the no added sugar option. See my post about the health benefits Dried Fruit Health Benefits
- Protein and Dairy
Focus on one protein or dairy source with lunch. I included dairy because many dairy products are GREAT sources of protein, as well as calcium for strong bones.
- Milk, yogurt and cottage cheese. String cheese is a good option. Cottage cheese with fruit. Sliced Cheese and crackers. Choose less options like chocolate milk products (ex. Yoo-hoo).
- Chicken, turkey and egg sandwiches are healthy options. Try to cook them twice a week to have available for lunch! Use deli meat in moderation (usually full of sodium and preservatives). Another option is prepackaged chicken strips, already cooked.
- Bento Boxes
I LOVE the idea of these. Although I have no kids of my own at the moment, when I do, I plan to use Bento Boxes. They are sectioned lunch boxes – great for portion sizes. Also saving you money (and time) on packaging foods with Ziploc, plastic bags. Here’s a link to a bento box Bentgo Kids Lunchbox . See these additional 100+ great ideas on Bento School Lunches here 125 healthy school lunch ideas!
Written By: Stacey Orner, RD