Tips for Packing Healthy Lunches

It’s the second week of school for us and the boys are coming to terms with homework and new routines. The one thing that won’t change is that they will be bringing their lunch to school most days. I haven’t eaten the school food in our district, but the reports I have heard from my kids and many of their friends is that it leave a lot to be desired. And all of us still aren’t sure how pizza sauce is counted as a vegetable according to the Federal government, but that is a story for a different time.

It has taken time for the boys and me to refine what foods should be in their lunchboxes and which should not. Here are a few tips that can help ditch the chips and get kids eating more nutrient dense foods.  Americans in general don’t consume enough fruits and veggies so anywhere you can fit them into what they are eating the better.

  1. Let your kids pick what they want to eat. Kids like having choices as to what they can pick from and that can lessen the frustration of them not wanting to eat a particular food or having the “I don’t knows”.  Keep choices limited to 2 or 3 options. The guideline at our house it to aim for both a vegetable and a fruit in their lunch box, in addition to whatever “mini” entree they choose from.
  2. If your kids aren’t big vegetable eaters, try adding something for them to dip their vegetables into. Hummus, salsa or even vinaigrette can make getting those veggies in a little more fun.
  3. Deconstruct Lunch.  Sometimes my guys don’t feeling like having a sandwich, wrap, soup, etc. so they will pack several individual things like a boiled egg, apple with peanut butter, carrots, nuts and raisins, etc.
  4. Make it fun.  Use colorful containers, cut things up into cool shapes or use cookie cutters. Try adding frozen fruit to water bottles instead of ice cubes.

A few suggestions to make lunch more interesting when good old peanut butter and jelly isn’t cutting it anymore.

  • Use almond butter or sunflower butter
  • Make a wrap
  • Corn, black bean and tomato quesadillas
  • Hummus and veggies
  • Boiled Eggs
  • Use leftovers, I will cook extra chicken or turkey for dinner, slice it up and the boys can make chicken salad, a wrap etc. This is a great way to reduce sodium and nitrite intake, both of which are usually found in deli meat.
  • Pasta salad with veggies
  • Brown rice and veggies
  • Soup

2 comments to Tips for Packing Healthy Lunches

  • Lora Cahill

    Great info, Emi! Thanks!! And I agree, the school lunches leave a lot to be desired. Not to mention the time it takes to stand in line and wait for the food. My kids like to pack so they can spend more time with their friends.

  • emi

    I agree. Having a little more time to socialize and not gulp food down is just as important at what you are eating.