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Healthy Backpack Lunches That Your Kid Will Eat

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There is nothing more frustrating than when your kid comes home from school and you reach into the backpack for vinyl lunch bag only to find that it is as about as heavy as it was when you packed it in the morning.  Or even worse, when you open up the lunch pouch, you uncover that not one tiny morsel was eaten, and the napkin is still folded.

You don’t know whether to scream or cry.  You want to scream because all your good efforts to pack a healthy lunch seem to be unappreciated.  You want to cry because you know that your ravenous kid hasn’t eaten since sunrise and it’s now close to sunset.  Ugh!

I feel your pain. After too many of these heart-breaking, late-afternoon sessions when my son was younger, I smartened up and decided to negotiate with him on the foods to pack that he would actually eat.  I used my ABC strategy during our menu negotiations:

Ask your child what he or she wants for lunch.
Be flexible but make sure that the majority of it is healthy.
Compromise a smidgen.

I agree that there were times during the negotiations that I thought I would have to call in a lawyer, but we finally settled on these lunches.   I would kick in money for him to buy milk.  All of these menu ideas contain at least 4 of the 5 food groups: grains, fruit, veggies, protein, and dairy:

Mexican Monday

Baked whole grain tortilla chips


Cheddar cheese, reduce fat, wedges


Low fat milk

Tip: You can slice the cheese yourself or purchase it pre-sliced, individually wrapped. Insider Tip: This was very popular lunch at the lunch table. My son would end up having to share some of the chips and salsa with his friends so pack extras.

Thanksgiving Tuesday Sandwich

Whole wheat roll

Turkey breast

Cranberry spread




Low-fat milk

Tip: Cook a turkey breast for dinner on Sunday. Use the leftovers for lunches or buy the cooked, home-style turkey at the deli.  Insider Tip:  This was my son’s favorite lunch, and apparently, the favorite lunch of many of his friends.  Years later, I found out that he would successfully trade half of his sandwich to the highest bidder for Red Sox baseball cards.  He now works in business in NYC, and it all started with this sandwich.

Roast Beef Roll Up Wednesday

Whole wheat tortilla

Roast beef

Cheddar cheese, reduced fat



Pineapple chunks

Low-fat milk

Tip: Layer the roast beef, cheese, mayo, and lettuce on flat tortilla.  Roll it up and place it in a container so that the shape stays intact.  Insider Tip:  Roast beef is a very lean cut of beef so is a delicious way to get protein at lunch.

Meatless Thursday:

Whole grain crackers

Mozzarella cheese sticks


Baby carrots

Watermelon chunks

Tip: Scoop the hummus into the bottom of a small container. Stack the baby carrots on top for easy dipping.  Insider Tip: Pack extra crackers to share. There will takers around the lunch table.  Trust me.

Eat Out Friday

Take the day off.  Pack lunch money.  You earned it.

I hope some of these ideas will help you in your lunch planning.  Good luck!




Are You A Triangular Eating? Read on to find out more…..


triangle eater blue

If I had a dollar for everyone I know who is a triangle eater, I would be a wealthy person.  What’s a triangle eater?  It’s a person who eats little to no breakfast, a modest lunch, but consumes most of his/her daily calories starting late in the afternoon and ending when Jimmy Kimmel signs off.  A day’s food intake looks something like this:

Triangle eater

Since food is the fuel your body runs on, this triangular approach to eating makes absolutely no sense.  In essence, you’re depriving your body of its precious fuel, food, during the day when you need it the most. This is analogous to getting into your car in the morning with an empty gas tank and expecting to be able to drive it to work.  Your four wheel baby isn’t going to move until you fill the tank with some gasoline, the fuel it runs on.

Your body is just like your car.  It thrives on the carbohydrate, glucose, found in grains, fruits, veggies, dairy foods, and nuts and seeds. In fact, your brain relies solely on glucose to function. So if you want to enhance your memory, improve your cognitive ability, and help increase your attention span, fuel your brain with food it needs to ace your day.  If that’s not enough incentive to eat more during the day, emerging research is suggesting that consuming the major of your calories later in the day may not be kind to your waist.

The perfect energizing meal contains not only carbohydrates but also some protein (nut, meat, fish, and poultry) and some healthy fats (oils and nuts).  Here are some meal suggestions:

Breakfast: Oatmeal or whole grain cereal doused with milk and topped with berries and nuts.

Lunch: Salad with grilled chicken, a light dressing, and a whole grain roll

Afternoon snack: A yogurt and a piece of fruit

Dinner: Baked salmon, broccoli, and brown rice (Keep the portions smaller compared to your other meals.)

Flip your triangular pattern of eating to consume more during the day and less at night to fuel your body and brain.

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