By Alejandra Santoyo UTSA Dietetic Intern
Revised by Celina Paras MSc, RDN, LD
School is back in session! Which means it’s time to go back to our daily routines of waking up early, preparing a healthy breakfast and lunch for the kids, while somehow still being able to catch the school bus on time. Back to school season can get hectic but by planning ahead, you can gain some precious time back to your morning routine. Check out our timesaving tips on creating healthy and balanced lunch boxes for your family.
MyPlate is a useful tool developed by the USDA that provides a framework for what your plate should look like at each meal. Using MyPlate as a guide can help make sure you are incorporating all food groups into your child’s lunchbox. Make sure to fill your child’s lunch box with a serving of each of the following:
Here are some lunch box ideas that include each of the MyPlate food groups:
Make packing lunch even easier by meal planning. Choose one day a week (we recommend a Sunday) where you can wash, cut, and portion out the ingredients for that week’s lunches. If you’re in a major time crunch, instead you can check out your local grocery store and purchase pre-washed, pre-cut fruits and vegetables, pre-portioned packs of peanut butter, guacamole, nuts, and string cheese, yogurt, and pre-cooked proteins. There are tons of pre-packaged options at designed to make your life both easy and delicious!
Once packed, store your child’s lunch box in the fridge with the lid open so cold air can circulate through the lunch box. Use an insulated lunch box and two freezer packs to make sure all perishable food items stay cold and to avoid the possibility of foodborne illness. If packing a hot soup or stew, fill an insulated container with boiling water for a few minutes, drain water, and fill with the hot food item. Keep the container closed until lunch time to maintain hot temperature.
Ask for a Helping Hand
Allowing children to take an active role in preparing their lunch increases the likelihood that they will consume what you’ve packed for them. Give your child the liberty to choose the some of the components of his or her lunch box. Plan ahead for the week with your child to make sure all desired foods are readily available at home.