{Nourish} Back to School: Fridge Worthy School Lunch Cheat Sheet

cheat sheet

When my son started preschool last year I had a minor panic attack at the thought of packing him a healthy lunch. Up until this point he ate whole food based meals, like dinner leftovers, for lunch everyday. He had never had a sandwich or wrap yet that was my go-to idea of a school lunch. Add to that the fact that his school was nut free and I felt paralyzed. I’m not kidding–I felt totally inadequate and overwhelmed, especially considering the fact that I cook for a living. Once I stepped off the ledge I decided to get organized. I put together this useful chart which includes a list of his favorite foods. I used the list to help with my weekly shopping and simply mixed and matched items to create his lunches. Honestly, this list was a lifesaver for non-school meal days as well. It allowed me to keep his meals balances with proteins, healthy carbohydrates and fats and whole foods centric. Bonus: I didn’t have to think to much come mealtime. I peeked in the fridge and at the chart and then pieced together his lunch. I even use it to pre-portion and pack healthy snacks for the week.   Here is a basic chart to get you started–change the offerings based on the season and or your kiddos likes and dislikes. Happy packing! 

 A Few Tips to Live By

{Protein} Choose high quality, organic, pasture raised animal proteins whenever possible. I also pack cooked beans, roasted chickpeas (they crunch) and fun options like dumplings and cooked sushi from time to time.  Hummus works well as a dip and a plant based protein source–my little one LOVES the natural sweetness of this Butternut Squash Hummus.

{Vegetables} Familiarize yourself with EWG’s Dirty Dozen & Clean Fifteen–play around with the vegetables your offer. Hudson loves certain vegetables raw and others cooked. Frozen, Organic Vegetables are less-expensive and easy to pack as they defrost by lunch and have a kid-friendly texture.

{Fruit} Like vegetables, familiarize yourself with the Dirty Dozen & Clean Fifteen.  We mix it up with a variety or fresh, unsweetened dried, and even freeze dried fruits which are a great crunchy snack.

{Sweets} Be mindful of sugar.  If you choose to pack cookies and treats for your little ones- it’s best to bake them yourself to control the ingredients.  Here are a few of my favorite “sweet” recipes: Homemade Apple Granola, Muffins, Almond and Coconut Cookies, Wild Blueberry and Almond Smoothie which you can pack in re-usable tubes (check back later in the week for my picks for lunch bags, bins, bottles and more).

{Dairy} If available, choose organic.  Be aware of the sugar content in yogurts –especially those geared towards kids. I love Siggi’s yogurts (they have tubes for kids) because they are consciously low in sugar. Check back tomorrow for a few more of my favorite snack picks.

{Carbohydrates} Aim for whole grains or whole wheat carbohydrates whenever possible.  I try to limit refined grains like breads and crackers and offer whole grains like farro and beans instead. Hudson loves pasta (i love tossing it with nut-free pesto) and roll-ups– so they definitely make the list.


Share you favorite lunch packing tips!


lunch chart

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