Tips for Packing a Healthy School Lunch

Healthy Living, Tips for Kids Steward Health Care

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As a new school year nears, many parents look forward to seeing their little and big ones climb up the bus steps and venture off after summer vacation ends. With the excitement of another school year, and establishing routines, also comes a task several parents dread – packing the school lunch.

Packing a healthy lunch and making sure your child actually eats the food you’re sending is a dilemma for many parents. According to the American Heart Association’s Simple Cooking with the Heart Program, there are several budget-friendly and creative ideas you can adopt to keep your kids happy and healthy at lunchtime.

Let Your Child Help

Empowering your kid and letting them choose what goes into their lunch will make them more likely to eat the lunch. Also, take them grocery shopping and use that as an educational lesson to teach about healthy food choices and nutrition.

Make a Smarter Sandwich and Subtle Switches

Use different breads like whole wheat tortilla wraps (choose wraps low in saturated fat and made with no hydrogenated oils) or whole wheat pita pockets to swap out white bread.

In addition to lettuce and tomato, try shredded carrot or zucchini and sliced apple or pear with a turkey sandwich. Avocado or hummus can replace cheese or mayo. Instead of lunchmeat, try leftover grilled chicken in a sandwich.

Leftovers Can Be Fun

Using leftovers for your child’s lunch the next day can be a timesaver and also save you some money. Use a thermos to keep foods hot or cold throughout the morning until lunchtime arrives. Some leftover ideas to pack are:

  • Low sodium soups
  • Chili (bean, lentil, vegetarian or made with lean or extra lean ground chicken)
  • Pasta (whole wheat with tomato, pesto or marinara sauce)
  • Chicken, beans and rice

Let Them Play

If your child is getting extra nutrition, then there are times when it is okay to let them play with their food, even at school. Try packing one of these fun dunks with dippers:

  • Apple and pear slices to dip into low-fat plain yogurt or peanut butter
  • Carrot, celery and sweet pepper strips to dip into hummus, fresh salsa or low-fat ranch dressing
  • Whole grain crackers (choose crackers low in sodium and saturated fat and made without hydrogenated oils) to dunk into soup

*Source: American Heart Associate,

To find a doctor or schedule an appointment, visit Steward DoctorFinder™.