Healthy Back to School Lunches

It’s August and most Arizona children are heading back to school. This means that now is the time to start looking for creative new ways to help them get the nutrients they need in lunches they will love to eat. We have some healthy lunch ideas for you to try.

Healthy lunch ideas

Packing a healthy lunch day in and day out can prove to be quite a challenge. Including your child in the meal planning and prep will help to make packing for lunch easier, and offer more success in getting them to eat it. Sit with your child and make a list of their favorite foods from each group and make a list of what they would like to try so you can purchase them and have them available to pack. Have a healthy selection of each food group on hand and have your child help you select one or two items from each group to pack in their lunch each day.

Here are some yummy options:

  • Fruits– blueberries, cantaloupe, grapes, mandarin oranges, strawberries, watermelon, and dried fruit
  • Vegetables– baby carrots, bell peppers, cauliflower, celery, cucumbers, edamame, grape tomatoes, olives, and tossed salad (dressing on the side!)
  • Proteins– beef jerky, rolled lunch meat (great with cheese), bean salad, egg salad, and chicken or tuna salad
  • Dairy– cubed cheese, string cheese, and yogurt itself or yogurt fruit and veggie dips
  • Grains– Crackers, rice cakes (great with peanut butter for extra protein),  pasta salad, pretzels, tortillas, and homemade trail mix or granola

For younger children the more creative you are with the food, the better. Use cookie cutters to cut sandwiches and fruit into fun shapes, or write hidden messages with their mustard on their sandwich.

Creative lunch ideas:

  • You can never go wrong with Ants on a Log (celery with peanut butter and raisins on top)
  • Fruit can be cubed and frozen and then put in a thermos as a fun frozen treat at lunch time
  • Sandwiches with faces or shaped like animals
  • Butterfly snack pack

The website Pinterest is a great tool to use to help you find many more fun and creative lunch ideas. You can also find new recipes on Fill Your Plate. From the home page click on recipes, type in your child’s favorite ingredient and a list of delicious options will pop up.

As your family settles back into the regular school schedule, don’t let lunch become routine.  By varying what you pack in your child’s lunch box, not only will you expose them to a wider range of food options but you will ensure they get a solid nutritious meal.

We wish you a healthy and successful school year!

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