5 Tips for Packing Easy, Healthy School Lunches - Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare

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Published on September 19, 2016

5 Tips for Packing Easy, Healthy School Lunches

By Courtney Meidenbauer, Registered Dietitian

Back to school means packing lunches. As a parent, there is a lot of pressure to choose healthy options of lunch foods that your children will also enjoy.

Here are some tips to help you to choose both nutritious and delicious food:

  • Include a fruit and vegetable - Fruits and vegetables are high in nutrients that children do not get enough of, specifically fiber and potassium. These nutrients are recognized by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans as nutrients of concern, because they are usually under-consumed. Adding a fruit and a vegetable to your child’s lunch helps establish healthy eating habits at a young age!

  • Skip the sugar-sweetened beverages - Sugar-sweetened beverages include flavored juice-type beverages, regular soda, coffee beverages, sports drinks, energy drinks, and sweet tea. These beverages add significant calories in the form of added sugars that have been linked to higher incidence of obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and tooth decay. Instead, pack 100% juice, low-fat milk, or water as a beverage option.

  • Think variety - Different foods have different nutrients in the form of vitamins and minerals. Packing a variety of foods helps ensure you children don’t get bored of the same foods and that they get a wide variety of nutrients.

  • Include your children - It is well known that children are more likely to eat their meals if they are involved in the preparation. Having your children assist you with grocery shopping is a great way to have them explore new foods. Also, having them participate in age-appropriate food preparation also increases their interest in the food. These practices can translate over to their lunches by involving them in packing lunches. This can also cut down time you spend in the kitchen!

  • Plan for the week - Lastly, it can seem pretty daunting to have to pack a lunch every day.. Cut down on this time by picking one day to do your meal prep for the week. Set aside time to chop, portion, and transfer the food into individual plastic bags or containers. This takes the pressure off during the week as the lunches are ready to go!

Ultimately, be patient with your children as they are exposed to unfamiliar foods. Set an example by being open to trying new foods or preparation techniques.

If you find your cooking is not well received, try, and try again! It may take 10 or more tries to have a child accept a new food.

Looking for new healthy recipes to try? Check out our Healthy Recipes library.

5 Tips for Packing Easy, Healthy School Lunches