5 back-to-school lunch tips for happy, healthy kids

A hearty, well-balanced school lunch can help young children power through a back-to-school transition with focus and energy. Many great lunches are easy to prepare and combine nutritious food groups that will help keep children full throughout the day. Taking the time to utilize a few extra tips helps to ensure that your child gets the most out of their lunchtime each and every day.

Pack a well-balanced, nutritious lunch.

Parents don’t need to spend hours in the kitchen to pack lunches that satisfy. There are endless simple, easy-to-make recipes readily available online to mix up the lunch menu. While researching new recipes and combinations, it’s important to remember the overall goal to is provide your child with a healthy mix of fruits, vegetables and protein.

Parents can experiment with preparing a range of treats from basic ham and cheese roll-ups to putting a put a spin on classic snacks by trying recipes like peanut butter and jelly sushi rolls. Accompany each meal with healthy snacks including carrots, apple slices, cucumber slices, grapes and other fruits and vegetables.

Plan lunches ahead of time.

Don’t catch yourself in the middle of the morning shuffle without ingredients readily available to throw together a satisfying school lunch. Being prepared to pack your child’s lunches can be as simple as taking a moment to write down the combinations you plan to prepare for the week, and checking that the ingredients are either at home or on the grocery list. Planning is an essential step to a smooth week.

Parent Pro Tip: Going the extra mile to meal prep can make all the difference in saving time during the week. Taking simple steps like packing fruits and vegetables in small bags can help make preparing school lunches a breeze.

Mix it up.

Like adults, children can get tired of eating the same meals each day. Parents don’t have to venture too far from their favorite easy-to-make lunches. Sometimes, using a little flavor and creativity can go a long way.

Modify simple lunches with alternative ingredients to mix it up. Various spreads, meats, dressings and spices can transform an old recipe into a new flavor combination that will delight your child’s taste buds. Remember to communicate on a daily basis, making sure that your children eat the lunch you pack. Ask your children how they feel about your new flavor creations to make sure that they enjoy the new meals you serve up.

Choose the right lunch bag.

Not all lunch bags are created equal. There are a variety of options to think about when choosing the best option for your young child. Lunch bags that are insulated make a great choice to keep the Arizona heat at bay, unlike plastic and brown bags. Insulated bags are also usually easier to clean than other lunch box options.

When choosing a lunch bag, take your child with you to pick out their favorite to help them feel excited about enjoying lunch at school. Insulated or not, don’t forget to purchase an ice pack to keep your child’s lunch out of the danger zone of 39°F to 140°F.

Take a moment to make lunch time special.

Writing a brief note on a napkin is a special gesture that can help take your child’s day to the next level by reminding them of your love and support. A kind note is also a great way to help your child practice their reading skills.

Transitioning back-to-school can be tough for any child, but feeling confident and supported can encourage an optimistic attitude that results in success.

Questions? Call the free Birth to Five Helpline at 877-705-KIDS (5437)
or download the Birth to Five Helpline app!


All content in this article, including any advice or commentary from Southwest Human Development staff and/or others, should be considered an opinion and is provided for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for medical or other professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the direct advice of your own trusted professional with any questions or concerns you may have regarding the child/ren in your care. Southwest Human Development does not recommend or endorse any specific tests, products, procedures or other information that may be mentioned in this article. You may contact Southwest Human Development’s Birth to Five Helpline at 1-877-705-KIDS (5437) to speak with one of our early childhood professionals for personalized assistance. Birth to Five Helpline specialists are available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.