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Posts Tagged ‘Healthy Lunches’

What’s for Lunch? A Back-To-School Lunch Guide By Our September Student Pharmacist, Rebecca Miller.


Feeding our kids healthy and nutritious meals is important because, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, kids who eat nutritious meals do better in school.

Everyone knows that eating healthy is better for kids, but just how bad is it for a child to eat unhealthy food? A poor diet increases a child’s risk of obesity, cancer, poor cognitive development, and poor school performance (CDC). A single can of soda each day increases a child’s risk of obesity by 60%.

Most parents know that feeding their kids unhealthy food is not good for them. They know that their kids need to eat healthy to be healthy. But they don’t know what is considered healthy or how to make a healthy lunch that will work for school and which their child will eat.

What is a healthy lunch?

School-aged kids need somewhere between 1,200 and 3,000 calories per day. The exact number depends on a variety of factors which include age, gender, and activity level, among others. Every child is so different, though, that it is much less important to make sure that they are not getting too many calories and much more important that the food they have access to has the right kinds of calories.

A simple rule of thumb is to eat, per total meal, ¼ fresh or frozen fruit, ¼ fresh or frozen vegetables, ¼ whole-grains, ¼ protein, and have a serving of dairy (in addition or as the protein). The fruits and vegetables ensure that the child is getting plenty of vitamins, minerals, and quick energy. The protein and whole grains ensure that the child will have long-lasting energy to carry them through the school day and keep their minds sharp.

OK, but that is too expensive and takes too much work for our family…

Luckily, your child doesn’t need a complicated meal every day for lunch. A lunch box filled with grapes (fruit), carrots (vegetable), whole grain crackers (grain), and yogurt (protein and dairy) gives your child everything they need for a healthy lunch. Add a re-fillable bottle of water to keep them hydrated and they are ready to go. Below you can follow a chart which gives several ideas to help you mix and match items from each category to create healthy lunches that are quick to assemble, won’t be boring, and don’t break the bank.


One way to make packing a healthy lunch easier on hectic mornings is… pack the night before. If there are any ingredients which could get soggy (like bread with mustard), just pack them separately and have your child assemble them when they are ready to eat.

fruits and veggies

How do I get my child on board?

A great way to reduce the frequency of the inevitable battle of food that your child doesn’t want is to give them a list of options from each category (either a list of what you have in the house or a list of what you are willing to buy the next time you go to the grocery) and allow them to choose which options they prefer. This allows you to be sure that they are getting a healthy meal and allows them to have some control and choice in their lunches. Packing lunches the night before also allows the kids to participate, giving them a sense of involvement.

For additional resources on healthy meal options see www.choosemyplate.gov