By: Stephanie Shabangu, Penfield Children’s Center

As your child transitions back into school year, it’s time to start planning nutritious school lunches. It can be easy to get stuck in a rut and eat the same foods day after day, but with a bit of creativity, your child’s lunch will shine!

The key to a good lunch is to ask your child for help. Come up with a list of main items and sides that contain fruits and vegetables. Make sure his lunch also includes protein to get him through the day. Also pay attention to your school’s lunch policies as many schools now are nut-free.

Main Ideas

  • Peanut Butter/Sun Butter and Jelly/Honey Sandwich
  • Turkey/Ham Wrap
  • Hard Boiled Eggs
  • Cheese and Meat Kabobs
  • Hummus Wrap

Vegetables and Fruit

  • Apples
  • Baby Carrots
  • Grapes
  • Cucumber spears
  • Grape tomatoes
  • Melon
  • Strawberries
  • Applesauce pouches
  • Lightly salted edamame


  • Whole Grain Goldfish
  • Popcorn
  • Fruit Leather
  • Yogurt
  • Graham Crackers
  • Chips and Salsa
  • Trail Mix
  • Crackers and Cheese
  • Raisins

Have a timid child who’s struggling with the day away from mom and dad? Add some extra surprises to his lunch. Write a loving note on his napkin and draw a picture that will make him laugh. Using a cookie cutter, cut his sandwich up into a fun shapes such as hearts, stars or dinosaurs. Pack a small bag of sprinkles he can stir into his yogurt or purchase a kids’ bento box and fill each compartment with a protein-packed snack. Kids also love to dip! A small container of peanut butter, ranch dressing, or cream cheese is a great addition to fruits and veggies. Put your drawing skills to the test and add a pumpkin face to his clementine.

With a bit of creativity, even the pickiest eater will find something he loves to eat for lunch. It can also be helpful to build in time to your daily schedule to ask your child to pack his lunch with you. He might come up with some additional ideas he’d like to try.

What fun lunches have you made for your child?


Back to School Kids Lunch Ideas

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