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Thursday, August 23, 2012

Yummy and Healthy Back to School Lunches

Alright yes I know, we are all wondering the same thing... where did summer go!  It’s that time of year again... back to school.  Again and again we think, what to pack for lunch?  If peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, chips and a fruit juice are the routine, how about changing it up? It is human nature to adapt to the same ol' same ol' but how about we spice it up and add a twist.  To create a more nutritious, colorful and delicious meal, focus on including foods from each of the food groups. Then trade up to better-for-you options for the usual lunch box ingredients. Add variety and think outside of the (lunch) box beyond sandwiches. Plan a weekly lunch menu, just as you would for dinner and get the kids involved in packing their lunches.

Here are some basics to keep in mind:
  • Protein – Choose lean deli meats or make a salad using chicken or tuna.
  • Whole Grains –Whole grain bread will increase fiber intake, which will help keep kids feeling full longer and less likely to grab for snacks. If your kids have been used to white bread, switch to “light” whole grain bread that is lighter in texture but provides the fiber.
  • Fruits –Kids are more likely to eat fruit if it is cut up. Instead of a whole apple, slice and core it, dip in lemon juice and pack in a resealable bag or purchase pre-sliced packages of apples. Individual serving cans of mandarin oranges, peaches or other fruits are also good choices.
  • Vegetables – Baby carrots are a favorite with kids. Also try cherry tomatoes, broccoli and cauliflower florets or even a small salad. A small container of dip can make the veggies more fun to eat.
  • Dairy – Skim milk or a fortified milk alternative provide the calcium and vitamin D that kids need. Low fat yogurt is also a good choice, as long as it‘s not loaded with sugars and other add-ins. Try mixing plain vanilla yogurt with fresh fruit. You can also add a slice of cheese to the sandwich or pack cheese cubes.
Make better choices

Reduce the fat and sugar and increase the fiber and nutrients by trading up to better choices. Your kids will have more energy to get through the day and develop good eating habits that will help them maintain a healthy weight.
Healthy Alternative Swop outs!
Instead of thisTry this!
High-fat lunch meats such as salami, pepperoni or bolognaLean deli meats such as turkey, ham or chicken or tuna fish
White breadWhole-grain breads
MayonnaiseLight mayonnaise, mustard or hummus
Potato chips, tortilla chipsCarrot sticks, celery sticks, broccoli and dip or celery and peanut butter
Cookies and Snack CakesFresh, canned or dried fruits
Drinks, Punch and SodaLow-fat milk, water
TreatsNotes, stickers or other non-food items

Add variety

Different foods provide different vitamins and minerals. Pack a variety of foods in your child’s lunch to ensure that they are getting a wide range of nutrients to grow up strong. Try some of these other lunch box ideas:
Sandwiches are convenient but can become routine. Make sandwiches more exciting by varying the basic ingredients:
  • Substitute whole grain pitas, naan or tortillas for the bread.
  • Plan to have leftover chicken, turkey or beef instead of lunchmeat for the filling.
  • Add sliced cucumbers, baby spinach or jicama for crunch.

Whole grains don’t have to be just for a sandwich. Try these combinations that combine the food groups in a different way:
  • Pack a serving of baked corn chips in a resealable bag. Include containers of black bean dip or hummus, tomato salsa or guacamole and a stick of reduced fat string cheese.
  • Use lettuce leaves instead of tortillas for wraps. For the filling, make chicken salad that includes grains such as bulgur, quinoa or crunchy noodles. Add cherry tomatoes or bell pepper strips on the side.
  • Serve a pumpkin muffin or slice of zucchini bread with rolled-up slices of lean turkey or ham and cheese cubes.
Plan ahead

This is key!  Create a menu for the week and purchase the ingredients you will need to make lunches. Consider packing lunchboxes the night before to minimize the morning rush. Older children can make sandwiches and cut vegetables and fruits. A younger child can pack the foods into the lunchbox. By being actively involved in packing lunch, children can learn more about healthy eating, be more likely to eat the foods they chose and develop a sense of ownership for their health.



  1. If you want to add a lunch note please go to Every school day I post free printable lunch notes. Illustrated jokes, fun facts, etc. - please take a look.

  2. With obesity predicted to affect more than 50 percent of the population in the next 40 years, the age of ‘fad diets’ and ‘quick weight loss’ has boomed to epic proportions. From the apple cider diet to the Quantum Wellness, to the 48 Hour Miracle diet, each of these weight loss programs all claim to promote immediate weight loss and increased vitality.
    This is simply not correct. Fruits, veggies, whole grain, nut products, dried beans as well as oils, many include proteins. Meats in fact has high levels of sodium, fat and salt, particularly in red meat which is not so healthy due to its high levels of cholesterol. Whole grain, nuts, oils, and dried beans in fact onsist of more proteins than in meat products. Your own body requires at least 25 grams of protein per day ,so it is obvious you do not haveto eat only meat to obtain your day-to-day allowance.
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  3. Great Post and Nice Article.I like it.Thanks for sharing
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