Pack it! Lunch Ideas They’re Sure to Go For

We know, we know. Harping on nutritious school lunches is what we do best, so here are some ideas we grabbed from to make it easy for you, tasty for them. Try these and then change ’em up to suit your picky kiddo’s tastes. The choices are endless. Yum!

Healthy Packed Lunches

Prepackaged lunches for kids are popular and convenient, but they’re also expensive and often less than nutritious. Instead, create your own packable lunch using healthier ingredients. Consider these components and pack them in plastic containers, reusable plastic bags, or colorful wrap:

  • cold-cut roll ups (lean, low-fat turkey, ham, or roast beef with low-fat cheese on whole wheat tortillas)
  • cold pizza (shredded mozzarella cheese with pizza sauce on a flour tortilla, whole wheat pita, English muffin, or mini pizza shell)
  • cracker sandwiches (whole-grain crackers filled with low-fat cream cheese or peanut butter and jelly)
  • peanut butter and celery sticks
  • veggie sticks with low-fat dip or dressing
  • 100% fruit juice box or bottle of water (preferred)
  • optional dessert (choose one): flavored gelatin, low-fat pudding, oatmeal raisin cookie, graham crackers, fresh fruit

Be sure to check with the school to make sure that there aren’t any restrictions on what kids can pack in their lunches, and don’t forget to involve your kids in the process so that healthier lunches can become a goal they strive for, too.

 And here are some extra fun ideas from …

  1. Feeling really daring? Go out on a limb with rolls, flat bread, bagels, foccacia, scones, or rice cakes.
  2. Switch up the condiments. “Instead of light mayonnaise, mustard or ketchup, add a healthy kick to any sandwich by using fresh salsa, pesto, or vinaigrette.
  3. Make fruit fun. Skewer fresh fruit on Popsicle sticks. Let your kids help make the kebabs.
  4. Send along your child’s favorite condiment or dip for fruit, crackers, or veggies: low-fat dressing, applesauce, peanut butter, etc.
  5. Take advantage of manufacturers’ prepackaged healthful products that now come in cooler shapes and wrappers, including trail mixes (with dried fruit, nuts, and cereal), smoothies, and yogurts.
  6. Don’t forget the drink. Some low-fat milks, 100 percent fruit juices, and even bottled waters come in funky shapes.
  7. Include a note on a napkin, a silly riddle, or a funny comic strip from the morning paper. “A simple ‘Good luck on your test’ or ‘Thinking of you’ will make them smile.
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Ellen and Rachel are two old friends and “expert” mamas—one a pediatrician and one a family therapist—with fifty years of parenting experience between them.

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19 responses to “Pack it! Lunch Ideas They’re Sure to Go For”

  1. Maya

    Why do you still recommend low fat for children when research shows its the high glycemic processed foods that are causing obesity? Kids need the vit D in whole dairy.

  2. Helen

    All children can beigin low fat dairy products after the age of 2. When buying dairy products the onl thing that changes between skim and whole milk is the level of fat…all nutrients stay the same. Low fat dairy is a great way to get in nutrients without tipping the obesity scales.

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