Back to School Lunches & Snacks





The following ideas are general and do not take personal or social circumstances, food allergies/sensitivities, philosophies, specialized diets or medical conditions into consideration.    To discuss individual concerns and receive individualized counseling and dietary/behavioral suggestions, contact an RDN (Registered Dietitian Nutritionist) who is highly experienced in pediatric concerns.

Children who learn about nutrition may make healthier food choices through their lifespan. They are naturally curious about how food affects their bodies.  Involving them in the selection and preparation of their meals and snacks will help them understand how diet directly affects their energy, fitness, mental acuity, test scores, mood and health. Be enthusiastic about their taking care of themselves and reaching their peak potentials through diet.

Tips for Parents

  • Include your child in planning their diet. 
  • With your child, create a list of their favorite and least favorite lunches and snacks.  Consider their tendencies toward crunchy or smooth, spicy or mild, hot or cold, individual items or mixed foods.
  • Together, design a calendar of weekly menus and shopping lists.
  • Bring your child with you to the grocery store or open-air market.
  • Encourage nutritious, satisfying foods. 
  • Healthy lunches and frequent snacks minimize after-school hunger and may curb carb cravings.
  • It’s okay if kids regularly repeat their favorite veggies and fruits. 
  • Provide easy to eat foods due to brief lunch periods, snack breaks and distractions.
  • Some children eat very little at one sitting.  Consider packing “appetizers” instead of a big sandwich and whole piece of fruit.
  • Some children like ingredients packed individually. They create their own sandwich or they may eat the ingredients separately.
  • Cut sandwiches into bite-sized pieces or turn them into fun shapes using cookie cutters.
  • Have your child select a lunchbox, thermos and water bottle with their favorite color or pattern. 

Strive for Wholesome Foods

To support optimal health and wellbeing, buy foods that are organic and free of pesticides, herbicides, antibiotics, hormones, nitrates and nitrites.  Vegetarian, vegan, dairy and gluten free diets can provide optimal nutrition if selected and consumed wisely.   See a qualified RDN to confirm adequate nutrition intake and supplementation as needed.

A Few Smart Swaps

  • Whole grain bread, wraps, crackers or pretzels instead of white.
  • Whole fruit instead of fruit snacks or leathers.
  • Organic nut butter and fruit spread or banana for a healthy PB & J. 

A Few Alternatives to Sandwiches

  • Hummus, egg, tuna, or chicken salad with whole-grain crackers, pita wedges or wrap and veggies or fruit.
  • Whole grain pasta salad with legumes, cheese, chicken, or veggies.
  • Chili (vegetarian or meat based) made with beans.
  • Macaroni and cheese made with real cheese (dairy or non-dairy).

A Few Smart Snacks – Protein & Fiber are Key

  • Wholesome yogurt with cereal, granola, nuts or seeds.
  • Wholesome crackers, pita, veggie sticks or fruit with nut butter, hummus, guacamole or low fat cheese (dairy or non-dairy).
  • Unsalted nuts or trail mix.
  • Protein-based smoothie.
  • Wholesome nutrition bar.

We wish you and your children a happy, healthy school year!