How to Pack a School Lunch for Health and Brain Power

It is that time of year again where kids (big and small) are off to school again. An important part of a childâ??s day is refueling mid day. Think of your childâ??s school lunch as the fuel they put in their tank. If you choose the wrong kind of fuel, they might run out of energy before the day is over.

A packed lunch isn't automatically healthier than one they buy at school. If you pack chocolate cake and potato chips, that's not a nutritious meal! But a packed lunch, if you do it right, does have a clear advantage. When you pack your childâ??s lunch, you can be sure it includesã??theirã??favorite healthy foods â?? stuff you know they like.

Sometimes we can get into a rut of packing the same foods over and over, or always using pre-packaged processed foods that are fast and easy to throw together. I recommend sitting down with your child to write down their favorite foods in each food group; vegetable, fruit, dairy, protein (meat), and grains. If you need more ideas, CLICK HERE. Keep this list on hand and include your child as much as you can in the school lunch packing process. They will like being involved and feel like they have some control. Make sure all foods are parent approved! Below are few more key tips to making packed lunches fast, healthy and fun.

Time Savers

  • Plan a week of lunches with your child on the weekend

  • Pack lunches the night before school

  • Have your child assist in packing the lunch

  • Keep a list of your childâ??s favorite, parent approved foods

Keep it Healthy and Fun

  • Focus on fruits, veggies, and protein

  • Aim for at least 3 out of the 5 food groups

  • Create creative combos

  • Include a treat (but rethink what and how much you give them)

  • Provide easy to eat foods

  • Make fun shapes with cookie cutters

  • Be sure to offer a variety

Carrie Snyder MPH, RDN, LD

Registered Dietitian Nutrition

Snyder Nutrition Services LLC

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