3 Tips to Build a Healthy School Lunch

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The start of the school year is a busy time. New grades, new school supplies and maturing taste buds are a lot to juggle. As a parent, deciding what to pack your child for lunch can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. Use these tips to take out the guesswork and make the lunch prep fun!


Try to include at least three food groups in your child’s lunchbox. Some combinations could be: pita bread (grains), hummus (protein) and carrot sticks (vegetables); crackers (grains), turkey slices (protein) and tomatoes (vegetables—or technically, a fruit!); yogurt (dairy), granola (grains) and fruit. Don’t feel like you need to limit yourself to only three food groups; if you can include four to five that works too. Choosing from a variety of foods diversifies the nutrients your kids eat and makes lunch more enjoyable.

Make It Fun

Planning lunches may seem like another task on your to-do list, but it’s an opportunity to work with your kids and teach them how to be self-sufficient. Let them take the lead by choosing which kind of vegetable they’d like to try that week. If you’re making a homemade trail mix recipe, allow them to assist in choosing the ingredients. If they’re old enough, they can learn knife skills by starting simple with slicing bananas or apples. Young children will appreciate the chance to provide input for the weekly lunches. Autonomy builds confidence!

Switch It Up

As the days and weeks go by, you might notice your children starting to get bored with their lunches. That’s completely normal! Who wants to eat the same things every day? Whether it’s once a week or once a month, switch up your routine by making something new, like a homemade pizza or soup, and let your child choose the recipe. Trying new recipes will spark creativity and give the family a chance to bond together.

Building a healthy lunch doesn’t have to be a headache. Strive for variety by incorporating at least three food groups, make it fun by getting your kids involved and don’t be afraid to switch it up with a new recipe!

This blog post includes contributions from Kris Sollid, RD and Allison Webster, PhD, RD.