Lunchbox nutrition from a registered dietitian

Now that school is back in session, you may be puzzled over how to ensure that your child has a well-balanced lunch. Some parents prefer to send lunch to save money, avoid allergens or for other health reasons. Katelyn Wolfe, MS, RD, CSP, LDN, a Le Bonheur dietitian, shares her favorite healthy lunch items. Pick one item from each category to help you or your child make a lunch that packs a nutritional punch!

1. Select a main course that based on healthy grains and lean protein.

  • Chicken or bean quesadilla
  • Whole grain wrap with lean lunch meat
  • Homemade veggie or cheese pizza on whole wheat crust
  • Whole grain pita, English muffin, or bread with lean sliced turkey, ham, or roast beef or peanut butter
  • Brown rice with black beans
  • Whole grain pasta with lean ground meat
  • Chicken or tuna salad made with light mayo or light salad dressing and whole grain crackers
  • Grilled chicken strips on a whole grain bun

2. Add in veggies and fruits.

  • Raw veggies with a light salad dressing dip or hummus
  • Veggies in the sandwich, wrap, or quesadilla
  • Side salad with light dressing or salsa
  • Left-over cooked veggies from the night before
  • Fresh or thawed frozen fruits
  • Fruit cup packed in juice or water

3. Include a serving of dairy.

  • Fat-free or 1% milk
  • Cheese on quesadilla, sandwich, or wrap
  • Yogurt cup
  • String Cheese

4. Don’t forget the fluids!

  • Fat-free or 1% milk
  • Bottle of water or reusable water bottle from home
  • For a fun twist, include a sugar-free water enhancer such as Crystal Light, Mio, or other brand powder or liquid mix-in for a variety of flavors
  • If selecting juice, limit to no more than 4-6 ounces per day

For more tips on healthy eating for kids and families, check out MyPlate's 10 Tips Series.

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