Skip to main content

5 Healthy Lunch Ideas to Pack this School Year

5 Healthy Lunch Ideas to Pack this School Year

Mar 1, 2023

One of the best ways parents and caregivers can prepare their children for the school day is by packing a well-rounded lunch. Here’s how you can incorporate fun and healthy foods into your child’s lunchbox, ensuring they have the energy they need throughout the day. 

What to pack in your child’s lunchbox

“Children can sustain focus for longer periods when they eat well-balanced meals,” said Joshua George, R.D., Clinical Nutrition and Patient Services manager at Inspira Health. “Healthy lunches and snacks include a combination of fruit, vegetables, dairy, whole grains and protein.” Also, pack your child’s water bottle to ensure they stay hydrated throughout the day. 

When packing your child’s lunch, include as many whole foods as possible. Go for a mixture of colors and textures by incorporating lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. 

Foods to avoid

“Try to avoid processed foods and other items containing high amounts of sugar,” said George. “These foods contain little to no nutritional value and can lead to health problems and concentration issues if consumed regularly.” 

Some foods to avoid are:

  • Processed meats such as salami, which are high in sodium and fat content 
  • Dried fruit leather and fruit snacks, which are low in fiber and high in sugar 
  • Chocolate spreads, jams and honey in sandwiches
  • Chips, dessert bars, oven-baked crackers and other processed snack foods 
  • Artificially sweetened drinks, including juice, sports and energy drinks, flavored water, iced tea and soda

Food safety

“Food kept in a lunchbox is usually stored for several hours before being eaten,” said George. “To ensure these items are safe for consumption, it’s important that your child’s lunchbox is kept at a cool temperature.” You can make sure the food in your child’s lunchbox is safe by: 

  • Using an insulated lunchbox 
  • Packing an ice pack or frozen water bottle next to foods that need refrigeration, including meat and dairy products
  • Keeping your child’s lunchbox in the refrigerator until they leave for school
  • Ensuring perishable foods are eaten within four hours of preparation 
  • Reminding your child to keep their lunchbox in a cool, dark place such as their locker 

5 healthy ideas for your child’s lunchbox

Talk to your child about the foods they want in their lunchbox. Involving them in the meal-planning process helps them feel included, involved and excited about healthy eating

There are lots of online resources to help with healthy lunch ideas. Your child’s pediatrician can also offer guidance on this matter. Here are some balanced options to consider: 

  • Turkey and cheese wrap, apple slices and carrot sticks with hummus
  • Hard-boiled egg, sugar snap peas, whole grain crackers with cheese and watermelon cubes
  • Hummus and veggie sandwich, orange slices and a mozzarella cheese stick
  • Chicken and veggie pita pocket, strawberries and greek yogurt
  • Peanut butter and banana sandwich on whole wheat bread, chopped bell pepper with hummus and a frozen greek yogurt tube 

Inspira Health is a high reliability organization (HRO), which means safety is the top priority for patients and staff. To make an appointment, call 1-800-INSPIRA.

Topics: Nutrition