How to Pack a Healthy School Lunch

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Try our nutritionists’ tried-and-true faves!

When you have school-aged kids, weekday mornings can be a mad rush for everyone to eat breakfast, get dressed and get out the door. As a parent, you don’t want to spend any extra time in the morning thinking about what to pack for lunch. We get it, and we’ve got you covered with what to buy and pack for quick, nutritious lunches and snacks.

sandwiches/mains

  • Darkest, grainiest, seediest bread you can find. If kids tolerate gluten and have healthy tummies, whole grain bread is okay in moderation. We like: Great Harvest & Dave’s Killer Bread.
  • Meats without added hormones and low in chemical additives. We like: Applegate Organics, Whole Foods deli.
  • Mustard without added sugar (many are) & mayo free from soy and canola oils. We like: Primal Kitchen & Chosen Foods for mayo.
  • Wild-caught fish. We like: smoked salmon, canned salmon made into patties or a “salad” with mayo
  • Full-fat dairy products if dairy isn’t a problem. Sugar-free, raw, grass-fed/pasture-raised, organic if you can. We like: Kerrygold butter, Organic Valley ghee, Applegate cheese

sides & snacks

  • Seasonal, high fiber and low sugar fruits. Organic and local if you can. For fall/winter, we like: apples, pears, and raspberries. Frozen berries are also great as they are frozen when ripe. We like: blueberries, cherries, raspberries & strawberries.
  • Full-fat yogurt products if dairy isn’t a problem. We like: Stonyfield Organic yogurt (plain).
  • Veggies for dipping! Organic and local if you can. We like: bell peppers, carrots, celery, & cucumber.
  • Nuts/seeds & nut/seed butters. Raw or dry roasted are preferred over oil-roasted. For nut/seed butters, look for ones without added sugar. We like: Trader Joe’s peanut butter, almond butter, & mixed nut butter
  • Packaged snacks are tempting because they’re easy but many contain loads of added sugars, colors, and flavorings. Choose packaged foods that are made entirely from whole foods. We like: Trader Joe’s Just Beets (beet chips) and Kale Chips, Epic and Krave meat bars, Larabars, Unwrapp’d energy bar dough

drinks

  • Water
  • Iced decaf and sugar-free tea, kombucha made without added sugars (we like: GT’s & Rowdy Mermaid for kombucha)
  • Organic, grass-fed whole milk

How to pack snacks

Trio your food! Snacks should have a mix of fat, fiber and protein. Cookies, crackers, and popcorn do not fit this rule. Better options include apple slices with nut butter, carrots and hummus, yogurt with chia seeds, and cheese and cucumber slices. You can’t go wrong with combining any two foods from the two columns below!

fiber sources

  • Nut butters
  • Nuts
  • Chia seeds
  • Veggies – carrots, cucumber, celery, jicama, peppers, tomatoes, snap peas
  • Fruits – apples, pears, plums, kiwis, strawberries, cherries, blueberries, blackberries

fat & protein sources

  • Cheese (full-fat)
  • Yogurt (full-fat)
  • Egg (hard boiled, frittata slice, egg salad)
  • Hummus or other bean dips
  • Chickpeas – sprinkle them with salt, spices, and roast in the oven until crunchy!
  • Guacamole, avocado
  • Nut butter
  • Nuts
  • Chia seeds
  • Jerky
  • Cooked meats
  • Tuna salad
  • Smoked salmon

need more help with making healthy food choices?

We hope this post helps take the guesswork out of packing lunches so your mornings run more smoothly! At Healthy Nest Nutrition, we believe eating healthy is doable and delicious for the whole family. We help busy families incorporate healthy, whole foods into their everyday diets.

To see if we can help you, schedule a free 20-minute phone consultation with a Healthy Nest holistic nutritionist.

Hi! I’m Robin, the founder of Healthy Nest Nutrition. I am a board-certified holistic nutritionist in Denver, Colorado. My passion is helping people find the right diet for their bodies and then showing them how to make healthy nutrition doable and delicious!

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