Packing the Perfect Lunchbox

As the school year begins, now is the perfect time to reconsider what goes into your child’s lunchbox. When deciding what they should eat for any meal or snack, you want to choose foods that make the most impact on nutritional content.

The food items on this list generally have the following: lower amounts of saturated fat, healthier fats that come from polyunsaturated fats, low sodium, good quality protein and a variety of vitamins and minerals. Best of all, they’re kid approved!

Lunchbox Ideas - Guacamole and Chips

Guacamole, salsa and hummus with pita chips. Guacamole is rich in fiber, potassium and other essential nutrients. Avocados contain unsaturated fats that benefit the heart as it reduces your cholesterol levels. The chickpeas used in hummus are also high in fiber, as well as protein, calcium, iron, folate, phosphorus and B vitamins. These nutrients all help to improve digestion, cardiovascular health and bone health. Tomato salsa, if made fresh with little salt, is high in vitamin C and vitamin A, and can help boost your child’s immunity and vision.

Lunchbox Ideas - Vegetables & Yogurt Dip

Raw vegetables (carrots, peppers, etc.) and yogurt dip. Raw vegetables are also high in vitamin C and vitamin A. Yogurt, particularly plain and/or Greek yogurt, is high in protein and several nutrients, including calcium, vitamin B, potassium and magnesium. Some yogurts also contain live strains of probiotics that help promote a healthy digestive system for your child.

Lunchbox ideas - Fresh Fruit and Low-Fat String Cheese

Fresh fruit and low-fat string cheese. Fruit contains many important nutrients, including potassium, fiber, vitamin C and folate. Fruit has been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, type-2 diabetes, as well as protection from some cancers. Low-fat string cheese is high in protein and calcium.

Greek yogurt and fresh berries. Berries have high levels of phytochemicals that help prevent cell damage.

Assorted nuts and trail mix. Most nuts are packed with protein, fiber, unsaturated fats and vitamin E. Be careful of your portions, though, as nuts are high in calories.

Celery sticks and peanut butter. Celery is high in vitamin K, vitamin C, potassium, folate and vitamin B6. Celery has anti-inflammatory benefits, lowers cholesterol and blood pressure. Peanut butter is high in protein, potassium and health fats.

Turkey and lettuce pinwheels on a whole grain tortilla. Turkey is high in protein and, when skinless, low in fat. Whole grains are an excellent source of dietary fiber. Lastly, avoid putting empty calorie foods in your child’s lunchbox! Foods like this are high in calories that come from sugar, saturated fats and white carbohydrates. Examples include: chips, soda, high-fat meats, candies, breads made with refined flour, high-fat salad dressings and anything fried.

Note: Serving size may differ from size in photos. Consult your child’s primary care physician with any questions.