Building a Nutritious Lunchbox


To help power an afternoon of learning and growing, experts say a nutritious lunch should include lots of fiber and whole grains, some protein and healthy fat, a veggie and just a bit of natural sugar, like a piece of fresh fruit.Easier said than done, you may be thinking. How do you get them to eat it? Our best advice is to get kids involved in the lunch-making process. They have a vested interest in what goes in their lunch, so put that advantage to good use. Ask them: Would you like grapes or apple slices? How about black bean dip or hummus? Sliced turkey or ham? Carrots or celery? Woven wheat crackers or whole wheat tortilla?

Providing nutritious choices sets them up for success. They get control over choosing and you get the piece of mind in knowing that they are more likely to eat the good food you've packed.Another favorite lunch tip is to do the lunch selection and prep work on the weekend, or at least the night before. Anything to avoid morning meltdowns, right?!Now, here's my personal favorite tip: Have your kids choose one main thing that they are going to eat every day for a week. Yes, variety is great but so is sanity. You don't need to turn yourself into a short order cook. Heck, some kids eat the same exact sandwich every single day of the school year. I'm not advocating that. I'm saying that if your kid wants tuna salad, they can eat it for five days in a row and then have something different the next week. Trust me - this makes shopping and packing lunches way easier and I find that food doesn't go to waste. Yeah!Here are just a handful of lunch ideas:

  • Whole wheat tortillas spread with peanut butter sprinkled with raisins or dried cherries, rolled up and cut in two.

  • Hummus and spinach wrap, cherry tomatoes with string cheese, and yogurt.

  • Baked corn chips, black beans, cheese wedges and fresh pico de gallo with jicama sticks.

  • Whole wheat or buckwheat noodles with peanut sauce, sugar snap peas, a pear, almonds and a fortune cookie.

  • Tuna salad with grated carrots, served with crackers or in a pita.

  • Cheese triangles served with pepperoni and whole wheat crackers for stacking.

  • Vegetarian brown rice sushi rolls with soy or ponzu sauce.

  • Smoked salmon, cream cheese and cucumbers on mini bagels.

  • Shumai dumplings/potstickers packed cold with ponzu sauce or peanut sauce.

If you want to hear more ideas, you've got to check out the lunch suggestions from over 2,000 readers on The Whole Deal Pack-a-Lunch Contest opens in a new tab. Amazing stuff! You can enter your lunch suggestions on that blog post opens in a new tab too! The contest ends on September 30th and the details are on that page. (Feel free to comment on this blog post but it won't enter you in the contest.)

Looking for more nutrition tips and recipe ideas, check out all of our Back to School opens in a new tab resources.

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