Back to School Lunches

— Written By Robin McNeill and last updated by Abi Reid
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A healthy lunchbox containing a turkey sandwich, granola, peas and various fruits.It is that time of the year to begin thinking about school lunches. Your child may enjoy school lunches or would rather have a packed lunch. Whatever their choice may be, it is important that your child receives a nutrient packed meals which will give them the energy they need for their bodies and the thinking power for their brains. 

When packing your child’s lunch, here are some tips to help in the process:

  • Find a fun lunch box:  Let your child help pick out their lunch box. Lunch boxes that have compartments will help separate food. Also, using insulated lunch containers will help keep cold foods cold. An insulated thermos will also help keep foods warm such as soup. Let your child help to make sure that all lunch containers are taken out and cleaned at the end of each day.
  • Plan ahead:  Prepare lunch the night before. It will help make mornings flow smooth for you and your child. Also, have a variety of snacks such as popcorn, crackers etc. in designated containers to make it easier to grab and add to lunches.
  • Make it fun:  Allow your child to help plan and prepare the lunches. They will be more willing to eat the lunch if they have played a part in preparing the lunch. Work together and agree on what goes into each lunch. Your child can help by washing fruits & vegetables, using cookie cutters to make sandwiches fun and packing their lunch box. Pay close attention to what your child likes and make a mental note. 
  • Choose food from each group:  Eating from all five food groups will supply protein, fat and carbohydrates. When your child eats from all five groups, they are taking in these nutrients which will give them energy to keep up during school and for any after school activities they may have.
    • Example Food Ideas:
    • Dairy:  Milk, yogurt, cheese
    • Protein:  Nuts, baked chicken, beans, deli-meat
    • Fruit & Vegetables:  Fresh, frozen, canned or dried
    • Grains:  Crackers, whole wheat bread, tortilla wrap
  • Have fun:  Your child needs to stay hydrated each day. Allow your child to help pick out a water bottle and the fun cookie cutters that can be used on the bread, deli-meat or cheese. Another great idea is to surprise your child by placing encouraging notes in their lunch box.

Source: University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Planning a Nutritious School Lunch

Written By

Robin McNeill, N.C. Cooperative ExtensionRobin McNeillEFNEP Educator, Extension Program Assistant - Youth Call Robin Email Robin N.C. Cooperative Extension, Guilford County Center
Updated on Aug 2, 2022
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