How to Pack Fresh, Fit School Lunches

Girl with home-packed school lunch

Parents, now that the holiday break is over for your little ones, it’s time to start thinking about school lunches again. Making, packing and taking lunches from home ensures your kids get a healthy, well-balanced meal at school.

After all, school cafeterias consistently offer kids favorites of pizza, chicken nuggets and hot dogs as part of their menu selections.This year, think outside the box and beyond the sandwich.

Here are a few ideas from Deborah Stern, R.D., a clinical dietitian at Children’s Medical Center, for healthy midday meals and snacks that will carry the kiddos through the rest of the school day.

Wrap It

(use whole-wheat tortillas)

  • Veggie wrap (any vegetables, low-fat cheese and dressing)
  • Lettuce, leftover taco meat, cheese
  • Grilled chicken, lettuce, low-fat ranch dressing
  • Hummus, julienne carrots and cucumber, olives

Dip It

  • Baked chips and salsa
  • Pretzels and honey mustard
  • Vegetables (carrots, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, etc.) and low-fat ranch dressing
  • Fruit (apples, strawberries, etc.) and yogurt dip
  • Cold grilled-chicken strips and honey mustard

Chunk It

  • Cubes of low-fat cheese with crackers
  • Cubes of lean meats (ham, turkey)
  • Cubes of fresh fruit (pineapple, oranges, apples)

Mix It

  • Trail mix with any combination of cereals, nuts, pretzels, dried fruit and a few chocolate bits
  • Air-popped popcorn and parmesan cheese

School Lunch Packing Tip

Like adults, kids like good looking food. To ensure they eat what you fix, pack their lunches in bento box-style containers with individual sections. Look for boxes online or at container stores.




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