Week 2: How to Pack Healthy Lunches for School
Sarah Jane Parker is an ACSM certified personal trainer, yoga instructor, mom of 2 kids with food allergies, and healthy food and fitness blogger at The Fit Cookie.
How to Pack Healthy Lunches for School
Summer isn’t quite over yet but we’re gearing up for back to school. Crazy, right?! Time flies when you’re having fun!
While you’re prepping for back to school, don’t forget to think about planning and packing school lunches. Packing lunches for your kids is a healthy and affordable way to keep your kids nourished during school. It does take a little more time, but it is worth it in the end to pack nutritious foods that you choose, especially if your child has food allergies.
Once your kids get a bit older, they can begin to pack their own lunches using the MyPlate nutrition format. This gives kids a visual to learn about proper nutrition and make healthy choices on their own.
Lunch box ideas
Packing healthy lunches takes a little time and planning, but it doesn’t need to be an overwhelming chore! Here are some ideas for what to pack for lunch:
Lean proteins: eggs, nuts/seeds*, nut and seed butters, peas & beans, fish (tuna is packable), quinoa, jerky
Complex carbohydrates: potatoes, sweet potatoes (with skin if possible), squash, quinoa, whole grain products (crackers, bread, pasta),
Produce options: homemade fruit salad, apples, mini oranges, baby carrots, mini cucumbers, veggie slices, mini sweet peppers
- Ham and cheese roll-ups on whole grain tortillas
- Lunchmeat and whole grain crackers with fruit or veggies
- Low-sugar yogurt with granola sprinkled on top and fruit
- Homemade sushi rolls
- Baked potatoes/sweet potatoes with chili on top
- Whole grain chicken strips and baked French fries with veggies or fruit
- Sandwiches made with whole grain bread and veggies or fruit
- Pasta salad with protein (meat or beans) and veggies
- Green salad with protein of choice, seeds, and healthy dressing
- Chopped veggie salad (or Greek salad) with added beans or protein
Dinner leftovers are always a fun lunch option! My kids love having leftover spaghetti or chicken stir-fry for lunches the next day. We try to make extra food at dinnertime so we have healthy lunch options for the following day. It makes packing lunches easier!
If you want more ideas about how to create meals for your kids, check out the MyPlate Daily Checklist where you can select your child’s age and calorie requirements. You will be given a daily checklist of food groups and servings for each to include in your child’s daily diet.
*If you are limited by food allergies (your own child or others in your child’s school), here are a few nut-free options to pack for lunch and snacks:
Allergy-friendly options: SunButter, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, hemp hearts, preservative-free lunchmeat