Time to Start Packing!

Time to start (1)


It’s time to be packing those school lunches again.  Ready or not, here they come….

It can be easy to fall into the traps of convenient processed foods or lunches that look like everyone else’s. A pre-packaged food isn’t always faster and usually not healthier. Start this school year out with a bang by prepping lunch ingredients ahead of time and involving the kids in the prep-work over the weekend. If your child developmentally or socially isn’t able to “cook” with you, you can use the time together in the kitchen to work on other skills like counting, colors, filling up bags, learning names of foods, and getting familiar with how school lunches will look for them if it is a new thing for your child.



  • Choose from at least 3 categories.
  • Always choose something from protein category
  • For older children, let them pack their own lunch 2-3 days a week and don’t bother them if they don’t pick veggies :). Stick to the 3 category rule with no commentary on how the do it.
  • Make lunch options ahead of time for the week so all categories are ready to pack
  • Pack lunches at night to make mornings less hectic
  • Include kids in making their lunch “treats” ahead on the weekends and encourage them to experiment and come up with new ideas


Protein/Main Course

  • Meat roll ups with mustard (or condiment of choice)
  • Egg cups or egg pancakes
  • black bean quesadilla with corn tortilla (spread mild salsa or enchilada sauce on inside of tortilla for added flavor instead of cheese)
  • Organic, grass-fed beef hot dog
  • Tuna salad and gluten free crackers
  • Salmon patty with dip of choice
  • Hard boiled egg
  • Turkey or beef sticks


  • mandarin oranges
  • apple slices (toss with lemon juice to prevent browning)
  • grapes
  • dried fruit
  • peach or nectarine slices
  • watermelon
  • orange segments
  • ½ banana


  • cucumbers and hummus
  • carrots and sunbutter or hummus
  • grape tomatoes
  • celery sticks with hummus or sunbutter
  • raw broccoli with dairy free “ranch” dip
  • leftover cooked veggies from dinner
  • bell pepper slices
  • pickles


  • water
  • fruit water
  • Zevia


  • Jackson’s Honest potato chips
  • Mary’s Gone Nuts crackers
  • Popcorn popped with butter or coconut oil sprinkled with nutritional yeast flakes


  • Trail mix (nuts, dried fruit, chocolate chips, coconut flakes)
  • Grain free cookie
  • Fruit leather
  • Dark chocolate squares
  • Sunbutter cookie with chocolate square on top
  • Gluten free cookie or brownie
  • Gluten free granola or Paleonola
  • Lara Bars


  • Nut butters are not included in lists since many schools are “nut free zones.” If your child can have them, feel free to substitute sunbutter
  • Remember protein and fat help boost the brain and keep mood/blood sugar more stable


Happy Packing!

– Blakely Page, R.D.
Registered Dietitian

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