School is back in session! Or probably will be soon, depending on where you live. Some of you might be wondering what to pack for lunch – either for you or your child. I would encourage you to pack balanced lunches and let your kids help you! I am going to list several options for each component of the balanced meal and then you can let your kids pick and choose from each section as they make their own lunch.

Packed Lunch Ideas

Carbohydrate:

  • Bread for a sandwich (ideally whole grain!)
  • Whole grain crackers or pretzels or chips
  • Tortilla (cheese quesadilla, turkey roll up, wrap, etc)
  • Pita bread
  • English muffin
  • Leftover pancakes or waffles
  • Rice or pasta
  • Granola
  • Whole grain cereal

 

Protein:

  • Deli meat
  • Hummus
  • Beans
  • Peanut butter
  • Leftover chicken, beef, turkey, etc.
  • Yogurt
  • Cottage cheese
  • Cheese
  • Jerky
  • Milk

 

Fat:

  • Mayo
  • Avocado
  • Nuts/seeds
  • Dressings (a little ranch might help the vegetables go down!)
  • Oils, butter, sauces, etc

 

Fruit or Vegetable:

  • Orange
  • Pre-Sliced Apple
  • Banana
  • Any favorite fruit!
  • Smoothie (freeze and then take out in the morning, will be thawed by lunch)
  • Carrots/celery/bell pepper, etc (with dip or PB or hummus, etc)
  • Fruit leather
  • Fruit cup
  • Applesauce (can buy these in the easy pack containers)

 

Drink:

  • Milk
  • 100% juice box
  • Water

Some sample lunches:

  • PB & J sandwich with banana and milk
  • Turkey wrap with apple slices and cheese
  • Cheese, crackers, celery and peanut butter
  • Cottage cheese with pita bread and fruit leather
  • Beans and rice with veggies and salsa and milk
  • Cheese quesadilla with carrots and ranch
  • English muffin Pizza with smoothie
  • Pasta with marinara and chicken (or ground beef) with an orange
  • Chips and salsa, turkey/cheese roll-ups with bell peppers
  • Yogurt parfait with fruit and granola
  • Cereal + milk and fruit and nuts (just get a thermos for milk or have them get one from school!)

 

I mean, the options are endless! I think it’s good to let the kids choose their own meal as you provide a flexible structure for them. I hope this is helpful in decreasing any packed lunch stress!

Adapted from a post written by: Emily Fonnesbeck RD, CD