4 Healthy Back-to-School Lunch Box Ideas

Lunch box got you stumped? Here are some easy answers.

August 6, 2015
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Packing snacks and lunches for my kids seems easy enough, but after a few weeks, I feel like I've run out of ideas. In my book What Doctors Eat, I cover how you can eat for your ultimate health, but it's so important to remember that the kids in your life need proper fuel to excel, too.

My secret to making lunch packing easy (without resorting to junk food): Create a master lunch and snack list. I go back to my list whenever my tired brain just cannot be creative enough to satisfy our little ones.

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The secret to great snacks and lunches is pairing quality carbohydrates with protein and fiber while keeping sugar low. I usually aim for at least 5 to 7 grams of protein at every snack or lunch.

When your kids get tired of turkey roll-ups and sliced veggies, try a few of my go-to alternatives, taken straight from my list.
 
Hummus and Crackers
Convenient and easy-to-carry, we never tire of this one—the kids love it! And hummus provides a great protein-kick. I can almost guarantee my kids will eat a serving of baby carrots or sliced celery if I send hummus along as a dip. Many on-the-go hummus packs are now available and easy for your child to carry.

Protein Bars
Protein bars are a great on-the-go solution to keep you child's belly full and happy during the school day.  There are so many different protein bars to choose from, but pay close attention to protein and sugar grams when making your selections. Ideally, a good protein bar has at least 7 grams of protein and just a few grams of sugar. (Personally, I'm a fan of NuGo bars. The sugar is a bit higher than I usually like, but you can't beat 10 grams of protein.)

More: The Best (Kid-Tested) Back-to-School Snacks

Black Bean Quesadillas
These are a family favorite, and they're easy to make. Stir-fry black beans and place in your favorite wrap. Add cheese, salsa, cilantro or avocado slices (honestly, whatever is still in the refrigerator that needs to be used). Place in the oven, covered, until the quesadilla crisps. Use for snacks or a hearty lunch option.

Soup
Once fall hits, I send a warm soup to school with my kids several times a week. Tomato soup is an easy and popular make-ahead soup for kids, but another family favorite is carrot-and-sweet-potato soup. Add rice or quinoa to make it extra filling. Get your little one involved in picking out a fun thermos or "warm cup" to send in his or her lunch box.