Packing School Lunches

It is back-to-school time or back-to-work time. Either way, bringing your lunch to school or work takes some planning but can provide economic benefits. Here are some tips for packing healthy lunches.

Variety is Key

Pack a variety of food groups for your lunch or snack: meat or meat alternative, a grain, a fruit, a vegetable and a dairy. This provides you with a balance of macronutrients (carbohydrates, fat, and protein) and a variety of vitamins & minerals.

Stock your pantry and refrigerator

Make it easier to pack a variety of foods by keeping your favorites on hand in your pantry or refrigerator.

  • Lean protein (tuna fish, peanut butter, nuts, and low sodium lunch meats)
    • Benefit: Including protein adds a savory component to your meal.
  • Whole grains: whole grain breads, tortillas, crackers, or rice
    • Benefit: Including whole grains adds fiber and B vitamins.
  • Dairy: low fat cheese, yogurt, and milk
    • Benefit: Dairy products help you meet your vitamin D and calcium needs.
  • Fruit: fresh, frozen, pre-portioned, canned (in its own juice)
    • Benefit: Fruits add color, micronutrients like folic acid and vitamin C, fiber and can help satisfy a sweet tooth.
  • Vegetables: bell pepper, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, cucumber,
    • Benefit: Vegetables add color, micronutrients, fiber and a crunchy texture to your meal or snack.

Be Creative

If time and energy are willing, make it fun! Try containers with multiple compartments and make your own "lunchable" items. Cut sandwiches into fun shapes. Make a fruit, vegetable or sandwich skewer. Or leave a note of encouragement for your child or spouse.

For more information, you can follow "RDtipoftheday" on Pinterest, Instagram, or Twitter.

Info provided by Denon Stacy, MS, RD, CSP, LD, Arkansas Children's Hospital


Sandwich Skewer


Gather your favorite sandwich ingredients:

  • bread, pita, or tortillas
  • turkey, chicken, ham, tofu, or cheese
  • lettuce, tomato, onion, bell pepper, olives, or cucumbers

Thread your favorite ingredients onto a skewer or toothpick. Kids can help too! Younger kids can choose their ingredients. Older children can help cut ingredients and thread them onto a skewer or toothpick. The possibilities are endless. Enjoy!

*Remember food safety: Keep food at the proper temperatures. Pack lunchboxes with cold packs when needed.