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Back to school: healthy foods for kids

Healthy food tips to for school-time lunch and snacks

As kids start to head back to school, it’s time to start planning healthy lunches and snacks so they can have the energy they need for learning. Good nutrition is essential for young minds, but getting kids to eat a healthy and balanced diet can be a challenge!

Back to school: healthy foods for kidsTips to make lunch fun

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has a few tips to get kids excited about lunchtime:

  • Plan lunches together. Encourage your kids to help pack their own lunch. If kids feel like they’re making their own lunch, they’re more likely to eat it. Show them how you pack your lunch to set a good example.
  • Celebrate special days. Plan lunches around special events. For example, pack an all-red lunch for Valentine's Day or include a traditional Chinese treat to celebrate Chinese New Year.
  • Try new foods. Bring your children to the grocery store and let them pick out new fruits and vegetables. This will help them try new foods and may be helpful if they are picky eaters.
  • Add veggies for a nutrition-packed lunch. Try mixing fruits and veggies together in one container so the veggies can pick up some of the fruit’s sweetness. For example, mix sliced baby carrots with a few raisins or celery sticks with apple slices.
  • Make sandwiches more exciting. Try making sandwiches with whole-grain pitas, English muffins or tortillas for a fun change. Whole-grain cereals and whole-grain crackers are also great additions to your kid’s lunch.
  • Get good-quality lunch containers. Insulated lunch bags and food containers can help your children pack a wider variety of foods for lunch, such as chilled pasta salad or warm soup. Also, remember to use an ice pack with their lunch to keep cold foods cold and lower the risk of food poisoning.

Foods for hot days

If you need to pack snacks for your child, choose ones that are still safe to eat at the end of the school day. Foods should not sit out unrefrigerated for more than two hours or for more than one hour when the temperature is 90 degrees or higher. For after-school snacks, pack nourishing, non-perishable foods, such as:

Breads or grains

  • Single-serving boxes of whole-wheat cereal and trail mix
  • Energy bars, granola bars or cereal bars
  • Whole-wheat bagels
  • Popcorn without added butter

Fruits and vegetables

  • Cherry tomatoes. carrot and celery sticks or other cut-up, raw vegetables
  • Single-serving applesauce
  • Washed whole fruit, such as grapes apples, or bananas
  • Dried fruit mix without added sugar
  • Water or juice boxes made with 100% fruit juice

Avoid germs at lunch

Teach your children to wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before eating or touching food. Include a packet of moist towelettes in their lunch to remind them to clean their hands before eating.

Want more healthy food tips? Download Sharecare.

To find more healthy food ideas for your kids, download the Sharecare wellbeing app. With Sharecare, you’ll also find tips on how you can get better sleep, lower stress and be more active! To get the app, visit so you can create your Sharecare account, download the app and take the RealAge® Test. Do not download the Sharecare app directly from the App Store or Google Play.


Disclaimer: This wellness program is administered by Sharecare, Inc., an independent company that provides health improvement management services to Blue Cross of Idaho members. Sharecare, Inc., does not provide Blue Cross of Idaho products or services and is solely responsible for the health improvement management services it provides.


Posted: August 10, 2022