Back-to-School Food Ideas: Homemade and Cafeteria Lunches: Tips and Advise

School Lunch Advice for Kids at Every Age

Try the tips below to make your child’s lunch healthy AND worth looking forward to.

For home-packed lunches:

  • Avoid the morning rush by preparing lunch the night before and chilling it in the refrigerator.
  • Put slices of tomatoes in a separate bag or container so they don’t make sandwiches soggy.
  • Instead potato or corn chips, pack a healthier alternative like veggie chips, bagel rounds, or baked tortilla crisps.
  • Round out the meal with kid-sized veggies—baby carrots, celery sticks, or broccoli florets—and a low-fat or fat-free dip.
  • Low-fat, high fiber mini muffins make a great dessert alternative to cupcakes or high-fat cookies.
  • Use a cookie cutter to transform a plain square sandwich into something unique.
  • Turn a container of low-fat yogurt into a complete meal by sending along some stir-ins like granola, trail mix, unsalted chopped nuts, or whole grain cereal.
  • Consider alternatives to sandwich bread like burger buns, pita rounds, soft tortillas, and large lettuce leaves (for a no-sog wrap for savory fillings)

For school cafeteria lunches:

  • Look over the cafeteria menu with your child ahead of time. Try to agree on items your child like and that are healthy.
  • Early in the school year, try to arrange to have lunch with your child at the cafeteria. Use this as an opportunity to model your own healthy food choices.
  • Ask the school’s parent-teacher group to arrange a presentation by the food service department. Express your interest in ensuring that healthy food choices be offered in school cafeterias and vending machines

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