School cafeteria menus vary throughout the country, with some providing exceptionally healthy meals and others not so much. If yours is on the horrifying side, don’t let the thought of packing a healthy lunch from home overwhelm you. With a little planning, and the right equipment, you can provide your child a nutritious lunch with enough variety that neither you nor your child get bored.
Note: invest in a good, insulated lunch box or bag to keep food at optimal temperature. I’ve planned these lunches to take advantage of that insulation by using frozen items (fruit or yogurt cups) on days when the sandwich needs to stay cold. A sturdy, cup-sized thermos is essential, too. To make sure it keeps food hot until lunch time, fill it with boiling water in the morning to heat the thermos container, then dump the water and fill with hot food. Your child’s meal will stay at the proper temperature, so you won’t need to worry about food safety.
- Ham and cheese roll-ups/sandwich, pretzel sticks, frozen yogurt cup
- Mini-meatballs, carrot sticks with Ranch dip, apple slices, whole wheat crackers
- Turkey sandwich, cheese squares, pickle slices, banana
- Baked chicken drumstick, carrot sticks with Ranch dip, grapes, cornbread
- Hard boiled eggs, green salad with dressing, Laughing Cow cheese wedge, whole wheat crackers
- Roast beef and lettuce in whole wheat pita pocket, red grapes, carrot sticks
- PB&J (or almond butter if your school has a no peanut policy), carrots and celery with dip, pretzel sticks
- Turkey on whole wheat, cheese cubes and crackers, frozen fruit cup
- Spaghetti in a thermos, green salad with dressing, apple slices
- Bean and Spanish rice burrito, jicama slices sprinkled with lime juice and chili powder, sliced berries
- Chicken noodle soup in a thermos, carrots with dip, grapes
- Roast beef and cheese roll-ups, grape and berry skewers on a straw, celery sticks
- Turkey and lettuce in whole wheat pita pocket, cantaloupe chunks
- Chili in thermos, cornbread, apple slices
- “Lunchable” made from sliced roasted turkey, sliced cheese and whole wheat crackers, frozen fruit cup
- Macaroni and cheese in a thermos, apple slices and almond butter, carrot and celery sticks with dip
- Hamburger with lettuce on whole wheat bun, pickle spears, frozen yogurt cup
- Sliced chicken sausage in BBQ sauce kept in thermos, cornbread muffin, green salad with dressing, banana
- Bagel with cream cheese, green salad with dressing, cantaloupe chunks
- Turkey and lettuce wrap in whole wheat tortilla, string cheese, frozen fruit cup
With a little advance planning and the right equipment, you can be sure your child is eating a healthy lunch each day!