What to Pack – Healthy Ideas for Back to School

I put together the following list to give parents a place to start when being overwhelmed by the prospect of packing your child’s lunch.  When packing a lunch I try to pack a variety of colors, flavors and textures to appeal to kids (or really everyone) and be sure the food that packed, gets eaten and enjoyed.  Whether they’re small and just heading off to preschool or daycare or older and expressing their boredom of the same old lunch.  Here are some tasty and healthy food items to quickly make and pack for school, day trips, or anytime on-the-go.  These foods do not require much in the way of preparation.  They are easy to make and don’t need a real recipe – only your imagination and your child’s appetite.  Even kids can help make these.  This is just a start to get you and your family going with their favorites and new combinations.  Feel free to share with us here!


Not being able to pack peanut butter (for school and community activities) can be difficult for some children.  However alternatives such as soy nut butter,  sunflower butter, and cream cheese can be a good source of protein and makes a healthy snack paired with the following foods:

  • Spread on chunks of apple
  • Spread on brown rice cake
  • Sandwiched between two waffles or pancakes
  • Spread on wheat tortilla, topped with a banana and rolled up
  • Spread on lavosh with fruit spread and rolled and cut into pinwheels

Vegetables and fruits can make their own snacks with a little extra effort to make them special and appealing to children.  A few suggestions:

  • Celery stick spread with cream cheese and sprinkled with raisins
  • Fruit chunks (melon, pineapple, grapes) skewered on a popsicle stick
  • A cored apple stuffed with granola or cereal
  • Carrot and jicama sticks served with dip
  • Lettuce leaves stuffed with egg-olive spread, then rolled

When the bag of plain old cereal needs a shake up.  A variety of homemade trail mixes make easy to pack favorites.  You can even pop in a few chocolate chips to any of these for a real treat:

  • Favorite low sugar cereal mixed with raisins and coconut flakes
  • Granola mixed with dried apricots, cranberries
  • Dried fruit pieces mixed with wheat pretzels
  • Seeds (pumpkin, sunflower) mixed with goji berries and banana chips
  • Yogurt covered pretzels mixed with whole wheat crackers

Something other than typical sandwich bread.  Pita bread makes a handy and healthy pocket to stuff your child’s favorite fillings:

  • Stuffed with lettuce, avocado and cheese
  • Stuffed with spinach and hummus
  • Stuffed with ricotta cheese and herbs
  • Stuffed with left-over meats and veggies

Lavosh or flatbread and tortillas make a neat roll-up for little hands.  These rolls can also be cut for a special, colorful presentation – kind of like sushi!

  • Spread with cream cheese and shredded veggies (carrots, red pepper, zucchini)
  • Spread with hummus and sliced cooked turkey
  • Spread with tomato sauce, sprinkled with mozzarella cheese
  • Spread with bean dip and sprinkled with jack cheese

For something creamy and cold, which can also be put in partially frozen to act like an ice pack:

  • Organic plain yogurt (provide berries or granola to mix in)
  • Flavored organic greek yogurt (less sugar than regular)
  • Fruit gel cups (vegetarian)