As summer is winding down, the back to school frenzy is officially here! It is a time of excitement and anxiety, and when it comes to packing lunch, absolute dread. Will our kids eat the lunch we pack or trade it for a bag of chips? Will they lose their fancy stainless steel bento lunchbox after the second day? Does it even pay for us to send a healthy home lunch? With moms asking me so many questions related to back to school, I love to look at what it means to send a healthy lunch and the importance of teaching our children how to eat and, ultimately live, a balanced lifestyle.

Sending a balanced lunchbox is easier than it seems. We don't need to count the grams of protein or carbs in our child’s meal. We don't need to make sure they eat EVERY SINGLE carrot stick we send in. We are simply training them to see healthy food on a daily occasion as a normal part of their routine. For example, if a mom stuck a Twizzlers in a child’s knapsack as a snack every day, the child will view a Twizzler as a normal snack option, whereas if a child sees an apple in their snack bag each day, they will view fruit as as a normal snack option. This training process is what will help our children make healthy food choices on their own later in life.

So how do we get kids to eat healthily, while still actually eating the food we send? I like to tailor the lunch menu around foods my children already love. I save the new foods tasting for dinner time when I am around to help them feel comfortable around a new food. In our home, lunches are healthy staples that I know my kids generally enjoy. This doesn’t mean that my kids ALWAYS eat every bite of lunch, but usually they will eat something.

Here is a general formula of what I recommend to clients to send in their child’s lunchbox, plus some sample ideas you can use this school year. If any of these dishes are a new food for your child, be sure to test it at home first!

This is the formula I recommend to clients with children ages 3-10 (Simply adjust portions depending on child’s size and age)

LUNCHBOX = 1 PROTEIN + 1-2 VEGETABLES + 1 FRUIT + 1 SNACK THAT YOUR CHILD ENJOYS (can be homemade or high quality packaged)
3 Sample Lunchbox Ideas:
  • Lunch: Pasta salad made with brown rice pasta (we love Jovial's Organic Fusilli)  + black olives + chickpeas + organic cucumbers
  • Snack 1: Organic apple slices sprinkled with cinnamon (to divert kids attention from the bit of browning)
  • Snack 2: Back to Nature Grab & Go Cookies, Mini chocolate chunk
  • Lunch: Organic avocado sandwich using a high quality whole grain bread (we love Alpine Valley Bread) + organic cucumbers
  • Snack 1: Organic cheese stick (we love Organic Valley)
  • Snack 2: 1 Organic pear or other grab and go in-season fruit
  • Lunch: Brown rice with lentils + plain yogurt (we love Maple Hill) + organic carrot and celery sticks
  • Snack 1: 1 Whole organic banana
  • Snack 2: Woodstock Mini's Me Organic Rice Bites with Strawberry Yogurt Coating

About The Author: Michelle Gindi is a certified health and family wellness coach based out of New York City. She coaches families with children as young as 4 to train children to enjoy healthy food and explore fun wellness ideas together. She is always working with her 2 own children to enhance their lives through healthy living! Michelle is founder of the wellness website www.buddhabowlsandburpees where she posts family friendly recipes and mom advice.