Thinking Outside the Lunch Box

Thinking Outside The Lunchbox Infographic

This information has been reviewed and approved by Emily McCloud, RS, MD, and Alexandra Wilson, MS, RDN, CDE, July 2016.

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Summary: Thinking Outside the Lunch Box

Refresh family lunches with these nutritious and fun ideas!

Breaking Bread — sandwiches

  • Cucumber boats/medallions/slices
  • Lettuce wraps
  • Pretzel stick kabob
  • Sweet bell pepper cups
  • Tomato top and bottom
  • Whole grain wraps
  • Low carb tortillas
  • Whole grain pitas
  • Whole grain crackers


Cream of the Crop — select lean protein sources

  • Canned tuna or chicken
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Hummus or beans
  • Low-fat cottage cheese or Greek yogurt
  • Meat leftovers
  • Nut or seed butter
  • Pasta or quinoa salad
  • Quiche muffins
  • Reduced fat cheese
  • Shelled edamame


Go Bananas — quick to make and eat fruits

  • Apple
  • Banana
  • Berries
  • Grapes
  • Kiwi cup (cut top off and eat with spoon)
  • Melon cubes
  • No-sugar added/light syrup fruit cups

Veg Out — tasty veggies and dips

  • Avocado slices (sprinkled with lemon juice)
  • Baby carrots/dip/nut butter
  • Bell pepper strips/dip/hummus
  • Broccoli/lite dressing/dip
  • Cauliflower/lite dressing/dip
  • Celery/hummus
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Cucumber chunks/dip


You Take the Cake — low sugar treats
Check package for serving size

  • ¼ cup sunflower or pumpkin seeds
  • 10 to 12  almonds, pistachios or walnuts
  • Air-popped popcorn/salt-free seasoning
  • Whole grain gold fish crackers
  • Whole grain tortilla chips/salsa
  • No-sugar applesauce
  • 10 to 12 dark chocolate chips
  • Animal crackers
  • No-sugar pudding cups
  • Homemade low-sugar cookies


My Cup of Tea — low or no sugar drink options

  • Water with fruit or veggies
  • Green tea/a few drops of honey
  • Seltzer water/splash of 100 percent juice
  • Sparkling or seltzer water/slices of lemon or lime
  • Low-sodium vegetable juice
  • Iced tea, unsweetened
  • No sugar added juice
  • Unsweetened soy or almond milk
  • Low-fat or fat-free milk

Fun and Games — add a little fun

  • Food cut into fun shapes
  • Kabobs on a lollipop stick
  • Stickers on packaging and utensils
  • Muffin papers instead of bags
  • Crinkle or spiral cut veggies
  • Colored sponges made into icepacks
  • Child’s name on banana

Providing healthy food and drinks will help fuel your children for learning!


Other Resources

Back to School Nutrition Tips
Proper Hydration
Healthy Snacking
Why Breakfast Matters
Healthy Recipes


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