It’s that time of the year again! We are saying goodbye to summer as back-to-school season is here. As many parents are sending their children back to school, they’re also thinking about what types of foods to pack in their kids’ lunchboxes. It’s important to remember that students need foods that will fuel their brains and keep them full and energized throughout the long school day.

Providing a healthy, balanced lunch will ensure that kids will not feel tired and sluggish during class time, which can then help them concentrate on their school work. Nutrition and school performance go hand-in-hand, so making sure that student lunches are packed full of nutrients is crucial. Try to avoid packing snacks such as cookies and chips which can often lead to fatigue due to sugar crashes. Consuming too many foods that are low in nutrients can lead to obesity and malnutrition.

Here at Second Harvest, we like to teach both kids and parents about the importance of a well-balanced meal. Including a variety of different foods into a student’s lunch will provide adequate amounts of essential vitamins and minerals that their bodies need. Here are some easy ideas of what you could pack in school lunchboxes:

Turkey and Cheese Roll Ups: This is a quick and simple recipe that can easily be made in the morning or even the night before the school day. Take a slice of low-sodium, deli-cut turkey, cheese of your choice, and some lettuce. Roll it up with a whole grain or corn tortilla. Add extra veggies for color and texture. These roll ups are delicious and perfect for kids!

Veggies and Hummus: Cut up celery, carrots, bell peppers or cucumbers into dipping sticks and dip them into hummus for a filling snack. Hummus is typically made from chickpeas, which is a good source of plant-based protein and is high in fiber. Adequate amounts of fiber and protein will keep kids feeling full for a longer period of time.

Greek Yogurt: Greek yogurt is an excellent source of calcium and vitamin D which are crucial in bone health. The amount of protein in Greek yogurt is higher than regular yogurt, which enables students to get through the school day without feeling hungry as often. Flavored yogurts typically contain high amounts of added sugar so be sure to pay attention to the nutrition label! To avoid large amounts of added sugar, pick plain yogurt and sweeten it by topping it with fresh fruit of your choice.

Fresh Fruit Salad: The USDA recommends that children consume 1 to 1.5 cups of fruit daily and for adults, 1.5 to 2 cups daily. Fruits are packed full of nutrients, including fiber, potassium, vitamin C and folate. Cut up some of your kid’s favorite seasonal fruits and mix them together to create a nutrient dense, sweet treat!

Check out these tips and resources to help your child make healthier food choices. Let’s start the school year right!