For older kids, consider a hot lunch (soups, stews, or pastas) in a thermos. Include fruit and whole-grain bread for a balanced meal.
Whole-wheat pita bread, hummus, boiled eggs, dried fruits, raw veggies, brown rice cakes or crackers, low-fat string cheese, fresh popcorn, and assorted nuts (if they are allowed in your local school system) are easy to pack and offer variety.
Mixed bean, brown rice, or whole-wheat pasta salads are an interesting alternative to sandwiches.
To make fruit more enticing, peel and slice ahead of time. To prevent discoloration, dip pieces in lemon juice. Some kids may be more tempted to eat fruit if there’s yogurt for dipping.
If your child isn’t a fan of fresh fruit, try including small containers of canned fruit packed in natural juice.
Whole-grain muffins and cookies sweetened with dried fruits make tasty—and healthy—snacks.
Check your favorite market’s deli section for more ready-to-go choices.