Our clinical dietitians share ways to make a healthy lunch for school

When it comes to packing school lunches, it can be hard to keep it healthy, appealing and offer variety. Including all the major food groups achieves a balanced diet that will fuel children for the rest of their day.

Dietitians at Children’s Health℠ share lunch ideas that are tasty and healthy.

1. Include the major food groups

The foundation for any healthy meal is the five food groups: fruits, vegetables, protein, dairy and grains. Here are some of the major benefits of the main food groups:

  • Protein enhances satisfaction from a meal and wards off cravings later in the day.
  • Grains provide the energy the brain needs to stay focused.
  • Fruits and vegetables are important sources of fiber and offer a natural variety of flavors and textures.
  • Dairy sources provide satisfaction with a bonus of calcium.

Including all the food groups in your child’s lunch ensures a balanced diet that will keep them going throughout the school day.  

2. Select nutrient-rich foods

Most people don't consume enough calcium, fiber and potassium, three key nutrients. Each has health benefits for growing children, so add foods high in these nutrients to your child’s lunch:

  • Calcium: Great sources include dairy products (milk, cheese, yogurt) and non-dairy foods such as canned fish, calcium-set tofu and dark greens. Add milk, drinkable yogurt or kefir as a beverage to get bone-building calcium and "good for you" bacteria.
  • Fiber: Great sources include beans, lentils, pears, berries, whole grains, beets and broccoli. Fruits and vegetables are easy, healthy snacks to pack and a great fiber source.  
  • Potassium: Great sources include baked potatoes, white beans and avocado. Adding avocado to your child’s sandwich is a tasty way to sneak in some potassium

Keep Reading & Get healthy school lunch inspiration.