Packing a Healthy Lunch for Your Child

Packing a Healthy Lunch for Your Child

Summer break has officially come and gone. It’s time to hit the grocery store to stock the fridge with lunch box options.

For many parents, finding foods that your child likes, but are also nutritious, can be a struggle. Taking time to compile a list of 8-10 lunches that work for your child is a key factor in being successful. This promotes variety, makes shopping easier and reduces the stress associated with packing a healthful lunch. Below are some steps you can follow to help stream line this process.

First step: Get organized! Set up a meal preparation area where everything is stored in one place, including:

  • At least 2 lunch boxes (to alternate) or brown paper bags
  • Sandwich or snack baggies
  • Different sized storage containers
  • Spoons, forks, knives, napkins, straws
  • Thermos or water bottles

Second step: Know what to pack. You could pack a conventional lunch that includes a sandwich, fruit, vegetables, snack item and drink. If you are looking for more variety try these ideas:

  • Wrap filled with veggies and cheese or deli meats
  • Hummus and pita bread
  • Canadian bacon with lettuce and tomato
  • Quesadilla with refried beans and corn
  • Calzone or Stromboli with a side salad
  • Dinner or takeout leftovers
  • Cheese cubes served whole grain crackers and dried fruit
  • Baked tortilla chips with bean salad and guacamole
  • Breakfast for lunch
    • Single-serving cereal or cereal in a home container (just add milk)
    • Veggie or meat quiche
    • Pancakes or waffles with scrambled or boiled eggs
    • Yogurt with fruit and granola or nuts (if allowed in your child’s school)

Third step: Prepare what you can ahead of time.  Fill enough containers or sandwich bags with nonperishable items (crackers, pretzels, dry cereal, etc.) to last for a week’s worth of lunches. If planning to use dinner leftovers, pack the storage container while you are cleaning up after the meal and refrigerate until morning to save time.

Other helpful tips:

  • Consider packing money for your child to purchase a beverage. This way you will not have to worry about including a drink, spoilage, or any leaking.
  • Have your child help pack their lunch. They will be more likely to eat their lunch if they helped plan the contents.

Now you have the tools to tackle the challenge of packing your child’s lunch.  Take the time to complete these steps and reap the benefits of a less stressful school year!

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Jessica Meek, MS, RD, LD

Jessica Meek, MS, RD, LD, developed a passion for nutrition during her teenage years and strongly believes in the healing power food. After completing her undergraduate and master degree program at Ohio University, she became a registered dietitian in 2006. She has been practicing professionally for over 10 years in the tristate area. She uses her knowledge of nutrition to empower individuals living with diabetes to make positive lifestyle changes and lead healthier lives. Jessica is a dietitian with the Bruce Chertow Diabetes Center.