Shannon Center Weekly Nutrition Tip – Healthy School Lunches

Whether you are packing lunches for yourself or for your kids this upcoming school year, try some of these tips to add some pizazz to your lunch!

  • Think outside the box when it comes to preparing sandwiches. Switch up your bread products (and aim for at least 3 grams of fiber per serving!). Try whole grain pitas, bagels, Sandwich Thins, or whole grain tortillas instead of plain white bread. (Many products have whole grain white products for children who don’t like the grainer products).
  • Add vegetables to your “sandwich.” On the side, pack some sliced tomato, cucumbers, spinach, lettuce, or even avocado.
  • No pop or sugary drinks – ever! Instead, drink milk, 100% fruit juice, or water. Note: limit juice intake to 6 oz. PER DAY!
  • Aim for fruit and/or vegetables in every lunch. Slice fruit or vegetables and add a fun dip such as yogurt for fruit or light ranch for vegetables.
  • Don’t forget to add some calcium! Calcium is a much-needed nutrient for growing children. Toss in a yogurt, string cheese stick, slice of cheese on a sandwich, or, better yet, a carton of low-fat milk.
  • For a side item if needed, watch the extra calories in chips and junk food. Instead opt for pretzels, Goldfish crackers, baked chips, or Sun Chips.
  • Add a sweet note by adding a low-fat pudding, Jell-O, Fig Newtons, graham crackers, or pretzels dipped in dark chocolate.
  • Instead of a sandwich, pack some whole grain peanut butter and crackers, turkey or ham rollups made with low-fat cream cheese and whole grain tortillas, or broth-based soups in a thermos. Think outside the lunchbox!
  • Pre-prep and slice any fruits, vegetables, or side items you can on the weekends after you shop. Package them in small dishwasher safe containers or snack sizes baggies.
  • Even if ordering fast food, add something healthy as opposed to pairing it with fries or chips such as a small hamburger with side salad, one slice of pizza with extra veggies, etc.
  • Check out this great blog, for a great resource on healthy lunches for kids.

Packing lunches can take some time. But once you get in a routine, lunches should take no more than 10 to 15 of prep time the night before school.


Kelly Devine Rickert, MS, RD, CSSD

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