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Mom putting lunch box with healthy food in kids backpack

How to Pack Your Kid’s Lunchbox

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Sending your kids off to school with the same-old deli meat snack pack and chips isn’t just boring, it’s also not exactly nutritious. So how do you pack a crave-worthy and healthful lunchbox that they’ll actually enjoy eating?

It takes a little planning, but if you manage to pull it off, the right lunch can benefit the health of your children, not to mention your wallet. Upgrade your kid’s lunch by mixing and matching choices from each of the following three groups to ensure a nutritiously balanced lunch that won’t end up in the trash can.


  • Beyond Deli Meat made with non-GMO, gluten-free pea protein
  • Chicken, cut into strips for dipping or rolling into a tortilla
  • Meatless meats: plant-based “chicken” and sliced “meats”, veggie patties
  • Tuna, salmon or chicken salad made with Greek yogurt
  • Greek yogurt: Fage 2%, Siggi’s, Wallaby No Sugar Added, Chobani Less Sugar
  • Peanut butter, almond butter, SunButter packs
  • Cheese
  • Hard-boiled eggs

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Fruits and veggies

  • Apple slices (include with a side of nut butter)
  • Fresh veggies such as jicama sticks, baby carrots, edamame, snap peas and celery. These pair well with a Greek yogurt dip.
  • These delicious apple and date bites
  • Fresh fruit, freeze-dried fruit packets

Nutrient-rich “extras”

  • Nuts: individual packs
  • Single-serving tubs of guacamole or avocado
  • Air-popped popcorn
  • Whole grain chips (such as Beanitos)
  • Whole grain crackers (like Mary’s Gone Crackers or Triscuit Thins)

Bonus: Surprise happies

Give your kid a little something extra to look forward to at lunchtime. In addition to a healthy and playful lunch, include a napkin note in their lunch box. Include a doodle or scribble down a joke to make them laugh. Or, consider packing a few LEGO blocks in a small container so they’ll have something to play with on their lunch break.

Editor’s note: Registered dietitian Molly Kimball offers brand-name products as a consumer guide; she does not solicit product samples nor is she paid to recommend items. A version of this originally appeared on WGNO’s “Get the Skinny” segment.

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