Packing healthy school lunches

healthy lunch idea

This was my daughter’s first week of second grade – but it seems we’ve been getting ready for weeks. She’s tried on clothes from last year to see what fits, there’s a pan of homemade lasagna in the freezer, and we attempted to get to bed a little earlier. While your kids may have been hearing school bells for weeks – or have yet to start school – it’s not Labor Day yet; and in my mind, that end-of-summer holiday is the time we moms are supposed to have the school routine down pat. So as you endeavor toward this goal, here are a few tips on packing lunches. (Not that there’s anything wrong with school lunches – which are usually very nutritious; but my daughter’s school is a very small local private school and they don’t serve school lunch.)

Pack lunches the night before – Morning rushes can be too crazy for lunch box assembly. But a little time spent on prepping appetizing kids’ lunches means the difference between healthy foods nourishing their bellies and lunch tossed in the trash.

If they pack it, they will eat it – (OK, truth be told, I have not actually tried this idea…but I read it somewhere over the summer and I plan to try it…after Labor Day.) At the beginning of the week, I will portion out lunch options in zip-top sandwich bags or reusable containers. The baggies/containers will be stored in a bin in the refrigerator or pantry – depending on whether fresh or shelf-stable. Then throughout the week, my kids will pull out the bins to mix and match their lunch box assembly from these options:
Protein power: Kid-sized Greek Yogurt, peanut butter, lean lunch meats, string cheese, hard boiled eggs with egg slicer
Whole grains: Whole wheat tortilla or pita bread, whole grain crackers, whole wheat bread, reusable containers of whole wheat couscous or brown rice
Varied veggies: Celery or carrot sticks with mild salsa dip, cucumber slices with hummus dip, shredded carrots to top sandwiches
Fruit fun: Sliced apples, grapes, canned peaches/pears, trail mix of dried cranberries/cherries/raisins and nuts

healthy school lunch

Bento Box lunch: Peach, hard boiled egg, peanut butter pancake with dried cranberries, tomatoes

Splurge on a bento box – My daughter has never been so excited to eat her lunch as when I bought this bento box for her (for $5.95!) Having food – no matter how healthy – packed in cool little containers makes eating lunch just a bit more fun.

healthy lunch ideas

Disclosure: This post was adapted from my guest post on Nutrition Unscrambled. I was not compensated for this specific post – but I am a paid to do occasional spokesperson work for the Egg Nutrition Board. The opinions expressed here are my own.

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Comments

  1. Lots of great suggestions here! I’m curious to know if your “If they pack it, they will eat it” theory is working :-). My kids went back to school today and planned their lunches out with the weekly lunch planner I made up. Last year my daughter was content to let me pack her lunch, but now she’s in 6th grade and decided to pack her own. We’ll see how long it lasts :-)

  2. loved the first day of school photo, hope the “pack your own Lunch” is working.

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