How to Pack Healthy Lunches this School Year

A pediatric registered dietitian offers some tips on how to pack a healthy lunch for your child this school year.

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CLEVELAND – The new school year has finally arrived and that means it’s time for parents to start packing lunches again, which can feel like a chore.

So how can you make something that’s quick and easy, but also nutritious?

“You want to make sure you’re getting all the different food groups in a lunch. So packing fruits, vegetables, protein, grains and dairy. A lot of times we’re just packing a sandwich and chips or something like that,” said Evelyn Benden, pediatric registered dietitian for Cleveland Clinic Children’s.

She said what your child eats really does matter, especially since it can affect their energy and ability to concentrate.

Their lunches don’t have to be elaborate. She said simple things like whole wheat crackers, deli meat, low-fat cheese and yogurt are all good options. You could also give them chicken, hard boiled eggs, hummus, beans, mixed nuts, carrots, apple slices or a peeled clementine.

If you have leftovers from dinner the night before, you could pack those using an insulated container.

Meal prepping is another big time saver.

“You don’t want to put things in their lunch that they really don’t like because they’re definitely not going to eat them. So maybe the foods that are harder, have home at dinner or on the weekends and pick things that you know they’re able to eat,” explained Benden.

When it comes to cafeteria lunches, she said schools normally have to follow certain nutritional guidelines, which is good. But, it doesn’t hurt to look at meals ahead of time, so you can tell your child what foods to pick and what to avoid.

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