Nourish to Flourish! Healthy Snacks and Lunches for School

August 25, 2023

By Anna Varriano

As parents and caregivers, we understand that nutrition is foundational to a child’s overall well-being and academic success. The choices we make when it comes to the foods and beverages we send to school with them can significantly impact their energy levels, concentration, and overall health. With the hustle and bustle of modern life, it’s easy to overlook the significance of packing healthy snacks and lunches for school. However, taking a little extra time to pack nutritious snacks and lunches can reap tremendous benefits for our children’s development. Let’s delve into the importance of this practice and explore 10 examples of healthy foods to pack in a child’s lunchbox.

The Importance of Healthy School Meals

  1. Fueling Concentration: Nutrient-dense foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy proteins and fats provide a steady supply of energy that can enhance a child’s focus and concentration throughout the school day.
  2. Supporting Growth: Children’s bodies are constantly growing and developing. Proper nutrition ensures they receive the essential vitamins, minerals, proteins, and fats needed for optimal growth and development.
  3. Boosting Immunity: A well-balanced diet can strengthen a child’s immune system, helping them fight off illnesses and reducing absenteeism from school.
  4. Maintaining Healthy Weight: Packing wholesome meals helps prevent the temptation of less nutritious options. This can contribute to maintaining a healthy weight, reducing the risk of childhood obesity.
  5. Building Lifelong Habits: Introducing nutritious foods early in life can establish healthy eating habits that extend into adulthood, promoting long-term wellness.

10 Healthy Foods for the Lunchbox

  1. Fresh Fruit: Apples are often the go-to fruit to include in lunch boxes; however, remember VARIETY when it comes to all things nutrition. Consider including berries (of all types!). They are delicious bite-sized nutritional powerhouses, loaded with vitamins, fiber, and antioxidants.
  2. Vegetable Sticks: An article I read some time ago said that only 10% of children’s lunches include vegetables. This needs to change! Baby carrots/carrot sticks, celery sticks, cucumber slices, red/orange/yellow bell peppers slices, and cherry tomatoes are great options for crunchy, vitamin-packed snacks. Kids love to dip stuff, so include some hummus or other healthy dip.
  3. Whole Grain Sandwiches: Opt for whole grain bread or wraps when making sandwiches. Note that ‘whole wheat’ is NOT whole grain. Always look for WHOLE GRAIN and make sure it is the FIRST ingredient on the list of any packaged bread or wrap you purchase. If you need to avoid gluten, look for grain products made with WHOLE GRAIN oats, buckwheat, quinoa, millet, and amaranth. There are lots of alternatives now, just rememeber that gluten-free doesn’t mean healthy. READ THE INGREDIENTS!
  4. Yogurt: Yogurt can be a healthy addition to a lunch box; however, make sure you read the nutrition label and check the amount of sugar as a single-serving sized container of flavoured yogurt may contain anywhere from 6 to 7 tsps of sugar! This goes for yogurt tubes and yogurt drinks too. READ THE LABEL and note that 4 grams of sugar = 1 tsp of sugar. Opt for WHOLE fat, plain, organic yogurt and add your own fresh fruit and a drizzle of honey or maple syrup if you want a bit more sweetness.
  5. Cheese: Cheese can be a good source of protein, fat, and calcium. The best options are WHOLE fat cheeses made with unpasteurized/raw milk, especially goat or sheep milk … grassfed is a bonus!
  6. Hard-Boiled Eggs: Eggs are one of Mother Nature’s  most perfect foods! They are a little package of healthy protein, carbs, and fats. Hard boiled eggs are a satisfying snack that can be easily prepared in advance. Eggs from pastured/free-range hens are the best if you can find them.
  7. Nuts* and Seeds: Almonds, walnuts, pecans, Brazil nuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and so many other nuts and seeds are easy to pack and offer healthy fats, protein, and many essential nutrients. Opt for raw and unsalted varieties. Again, remember variety AND moderation!
  8. Whole Grain Crackers: These provide a satisfying crunch and can be paired with healthy sources of protein and fats, such as cheese, nut & seed butters, or hummus. Once again, remember that whole wheat does not equal whole grain!
  9. Homemade Trail Mix: Create a mix of raw nuts* and seeds, dried fruits (sulphite-free if possible!), and a few dark chocolate chips for a sweet treat with nutritional value.
  10. Homemade Treats*: Check out the recipe section at for some healthy treats, including:

* make sure to check your school’s nut policy

Incorporating Healthy Choices into the Routine

Packing healthy snacks and lunches for school doesn’t have to be a daunting task. With a little planning and creativity, you can make nutritious meals that your child will love. Here are a few tips to consider:

  1. Plan Ahead: Take some time to plan the week’s meals in advance to ensure you have all the necessary ingredients on hand.
  2. Involve Your Child: Let your child help choose fruits, veggies, and snacks they enjoy. This involvement can increase their enthusiasm for healthier options.
  3. Variety is Key: Rotate different foods to keep things interesting and to provide a wide range of nutrients.
  4. Prep in Batches: Wash, chop, and portion out fruits and veggies ahead of time to make assembly quick and easy.
  5. Stay Hydrated: Don’t forget to pack a reusable water bottle to keep your child hydrated throughout the day. Water is the best beverage to keep your child healthy and hydrated. 

Presentation Counts!

Fun & kid-friendly containers can help transform lunch-bag letdown into lunch-bag fun! My kids are all grown up now, but our favourite lunch gear was from a company called Bentology. Bentology products are designed to help you pack nutritious bento box style lunches for school (or work … or play!). The unique design of this durable line of products makes it easy to break free of the sandwich mentality, and as a bonus, the products are free of phthalates, BPA, PVC, or lead.

By packing healthy snacks and lunches for school, you are investing in your child’s well-being and future. These small efforts can yield significant benefits, fostering their growth, learning, and overall health. Remember, the choices you make today can have a lasting impact on their tomorrow.


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