Thinking Outside the (Lunch)Box: Tips for Making Less Processed and More Nutritious School Lunches

The start of a fresh school year means new school supplies, full back packs, and lovingly packed school lunchboxes. That last one might come as a challenge for parents that aren’t exactly sure what to fill their kiddos lunches with. Finding something to pack that’s quick, easy, nutritious, and appetizing to your little one is tough. It’s no wonder that many parents end up resorting to the classic PB&J with a side of potato chips. This school year, use these three simple strategies to take the stress out of packing school lunches.


Start with the essentials. While brown bags are inexpensive in the short term, investing in a reusable lunch box will pay off in the long run. Using a lunch bag with insulation will also broaden your packed lunch options. By simply slipping in an ice pack, items like deli meat, cheese, and other refrigerated items can be included.

Plastic baggies limit our menu options, so try ditching them and use reusable tupperware or compartmentalized containers instead. These allow you to include a wider variety of hot, cold, and room temperature foods.


Ditch the sandwich.  While this classic choice is certainly great in a pinch, there are so many other delicious and nutritious options your child may enjoy. Consider packing cold pasta salad with fresh veggies and cheese slices on the side. Other delicious options include fruit and nut butter, boiled eggs, nuts, veggie wraps, or even leftovers from last nights dinner. Putting a frozen smoothie in a leak-proof thermos will leave it at just the right consistency by the time lunch rolls around. The possibilities are endless. Check out more kid-approved lunch ideas here.


Don’t reinvent the wheel. It’s not difficult to locate fancy school lunch ideas on the web, but it’s important to remember that keeping things simple is often the way to go. Don’t overwhelm yourself with this task. Simply sit down with your child and discuss ways in which you can jazz up his/her lunchbox this school year. To make this even more of a collaborative effort, consider letting your child help prepare their lunch the night before.


Work your way through trying a few new lunchbox options this school year. Keep a list of the lunches that are hits, and you’ll have plenty of go-to ideas in no time!


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