Healthy Breakfast, Lunch Options as Students Head Back to School

Mary Cherne, St. Luke's Clinical Dietitian, Offers Tips to Help Parents and Children Ahead of the Return-to-Learn

DULUTH, Minn. – Without a healthy lunch, kids can have trouble concentrating, lack energy for after-school activities, and may end up filling up on low-nutrient snacks.

St. Luke’s Clinical Dietitian Mary Cherne offers these tips to get started packing health lunches your kids will actually eat.

  • Get kids involved. Let them pick out their lunch box and let them choose some or all of the foods they pack. Get them excited about their lunch to increase the chances that they’ll actually eat what you send. Bringing kids grocery shopping or growing some of your own fruits and vegetables can help too.
  • Just like adults, kids eat with their eyes first. Make lunches look appealing and kids may be more likely to eat them.
  • Agree on what goes into the lunch. Ideally: a protein (meat, cheese, yogurt, eggs, etc), a whole grain (crackers, bread, pita, wraps, etc.), and at least one fruit or vegetable. It’s ok to include a little sweet treat or snack item too.
  • Be careful to pack items that small children can open themselves. One easy way to package food is in a bento box or sorter container. Many even include plastic utensils so you aren’t limited to just finger foods.
  • Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold to decrease the chance of any food-borne illnesses. Start by using an insulated lunch box. For cold foods, it is typically recommended to use two 3×5’’ ice packs. A small insulated container can keep hot entrees safe and warm by lunchtime.

Cherne says this is also a great time of year for adults to get back in the habit of packing a healthy lunch too.

She suggests using the same principles to build your meal: protein, whole grain, fruit, and vegetable, plus a little sweet treat or snack item if you’d like.

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