Start the year right with nutritious kid-friendly meals


Try these four tips to make lunch preparation a cinch at your house:

1. Prepare for production suggests taking stock and doing a quick inventory before the school year begins:

  • Find a spot in the kitchen where all lunch-making gear can live, so that it’s not a hunt every day to find containers, baggies, etc.
  • Ensure you’ve got the right pieces for your child’s to-go lunch—staples include a lunch box, thermos, water bottle and small ice packs (bonus tip: try freezing a clean, wet sponge in a baggie for “ice”—and will double as a clean-up tool)

2. Plan ahead

Figuring out what to whip up, and getting it made can make for a hectic morning. Take some stress out of each weekday morning by working ahead—pack lunches the night before, and spend a bit of weekend time plotting out a week (or month) of lunches, complete with associated shopping list.

3. Pick from the food groups

The USDA recommends each meal include a mix of fruits, veggies, grains, protein and dairy. When planning a lunch for your little one, choose items from each of these groups.

Need lunch inspiration? Try mixing and matching these items for wholesome lunch ideas, like these from U.S. News & World Report:

  • Slices of turkey or chicken breast
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Tuna
  • Nut butter (or sunflower seed butter if your school is nut-free)
  • Hummus
  • Whole-grain tortilla
  • Whole-wheat pasta
  • Whole wheat crackers
  • Fresh veggies—especially those that are easily “snackable,” like snap peas, edamame, carrot sticks, celery sticks, cherry tomatoes and broccoli florets
  • Fresh fruit—think about small options for small people—clementines, grapes and berries
  • Low-fat milk, cheese or yogurt

If your child is a picky eater, or follows a restricted diet, check out these recipe ideas from Epicurious.

4. Presentation, presentation, presentation

Adults are the only ones who eat with their eyes. Consider adding little touches to make lunch special and treat your kids:

  • Skip the sandwich and make skewers instead
  • Balance the food groups with small compartments in a bento box
  • Use cookie cutters to liven up fruit, veggie and cheese slices