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How to send kids to school with lunches they’ll eat and that are good for them, too


If your school district is resuming in-person instruction, lunchtime may still look different than before. And even if the school offers a lunch program, as a parent you may feel better about sending lunch from home.

But making lunch day after day to send to school is not always easy. When it comes to school lunches, you need to find a balance between sending food that’s healthy but also that kids will actually eat – and then you need to pack it so the food still looks enticing to eat by the time lunchtime rolls around.

Here are 5 ideas for packing kid-friendly healthy lunches:

  1. Make it fun. No need to pack a boring sandwich with a piece of fruit every day of the week. Instead, present food in kid-friendly ways. Use a cookie cutter to make sandwiches in fun shapes. Make kebabs with protein and veggies cut into cubes on a stick. Pack the components of make-your-own pizzas.
  2. Pack creatively. Many kids don’t like foods to touch and aren’t excited about eating a mushy sandwich out of a plastic bag or foil wrapper. Choose containers with multiple compartments, like bento boxes, and fill compartments with foods in a variety of colors and shapes. Make food look inviting by selecting colorful containers or adding stickers.
  3. Choose go-to foods. Lunchtime at school is not the time to insist your child eat something new or that they don’t really like. Instead, focus on healthy options you know they enjoy and save the trial-and-error for when they’re home.
  4. Give your child some say. If you get kids involved in choosing what goes in their lunch box (within limits), they’re more likely to eat what’s in there. Give them healthy options to choose from and let them be in control of what makes the final cut.
  5. Round out the meal. To maximize nutrition and keep bellies full, include lean protein (turkey, eggs, low-fat cheese), healthy fat (hummus, avocado, nuts) and complex carbs (whole wheat bread, fruit, veggies) in each meal.
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Date Last Reviewed: June 24, 2020

Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor

Medical Review: Nora Minno, RD, CDN

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