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Back to School: Packing healthy lunches!

Happy Back to School Day for Winston-Salem schools! As we say goodbye to lazy summer mornings and start getting back in the routine of the school year, it's time to start thinking about packing lunches again. If you're like me, I often feel like I get in meal "ruts" and need some fresh ideas. I've dug into the archives for this post, but it's been revamped with a few more links to check out with some great ideas. 

The kids are back to school this month, which means it’s time to start thinking about packing lunches again. Packing a healthy, nutritious lunch for your children provides them with the nutrients that they need to get through a long school day. Unfortunately, school lunches aren’t always the answer, as they are often high in calories and don’t meet nutrition guidelines. So, take matters into your own hands to ensure that your child gets the healthiest meal possible! Here are some tips for packing a healthy lunch:

Plan ahead: Weekday mornings are always hectic as you try to get kids up and dressed, lunches packed, and out the door. Make your life easier by packing lunches the night before. Also, consider taking the weekend as an opportunity to put bulk items (i.e. crackers, trail mix, pretzels) in baggies to grab and go during the week.

Make it a MyPlate Meal: MyPlate is the USDA’s new strategy to encourage healthy eating, and it makes sense! Half of the plate should be fruits and vegetables, the other half is grains and protein – all with a side of dairy. :)


  • It’s recommended that children get five servings of fruits/vegetables daily – incorporate some of these at lunch – apples, bananas, carrots, celery, green peppers, kiwi, strawberries, blueberries, cucumbers, tomatoes, the list goes on…
  • Stick to whole grains (whole wheat or oat) with at least 3 g of fiber per slice. Keep this in mind as you transform your child’s lunchbox into a meal plate!
  • Add in some protein – fresh deli meat in a sandwich, peanut butter, greek yogurt, trail mix
  • Don’t forget dairy – maybe some cheese, yogurt, low fat milk

Get creative! Everyone gets tired of the same foods day after day. Get creative with your child’s lunch, and don’t be afraid to try something new! For a twist on the usual sandwich, try a whole wheat tortilla instead of bread. Pack veggies with dips (hummus, salsa, low fat ranch dressing) or pack a LOVE to dip things! Think beyond the PB&J!

Check out this wonderful compilation of all sorts of creative lunch ideas! This dietician (and mom) has also made a list of her favorite, easy, go-to lunches. Pinterest is a wonderful resource for all sorts of new and fresh ideas.

Skip the extra sugar: Avoid drinks that are high in sugar content and stick to low fat milk or water preferably (100% fruit juice over the very sugary variety). Lots of sweets in the lunchbox = afternoon sugar high!

Keep it cool: If you’re packing anything perishable, an insulated lunch box will be a better option than the ‘ole brown paper bag. Consider packing an ice pack to keep everything chilly until lunchtime.

Make it a goal to provide your child with a healthy lunch everyday – give them the extra brain power that they need to succeed in school and be healthy!

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