No cafeteria service? No problem.

Let the expert pediatric dietitians at Children’s Hospital New Orleans help you choose easy, healthy lunch options to pack for your little ones!

With many students returning to in person learning, one of the many changes we’ve seen in the school environment this year is the absence of cafeteria service, with some schools even opting for lunchtime to take place in the classroom. Not having this feature may be tough on families while trying to navigate an already stressful school year. The pediatric dietitians at Children’s Hospital New Orleans have a few tips to help take the thinking out of packing easy to make, balanced lunches for kids.

The Lunchbox

Make sure to choose a well-insulated lunchbox, and a freeze pack or thermos to keep hot things hot and cold thing cold! Be sure to ask if your child will have access to a microwave or refrigerator to determine if the school can assist with keeping safe food temperatures, or if your packed lunches need to be insulated By keeping lunch at the proper temperature, we avoid dangerous E. coli, salmonella, and listeria that can grow on the food if not stored properly.

Be creative!

Make it fun for your little ones by getting them involved in packing lunch. Give them autonomy by asking what they would like, or by letting them choose from options you provide. Use a compartmentalized container to keep foods separate.

Make it stretch

Eating healthy may not always be the least expensive option. Try some cost-effective options like buying a big bag of carrots and spreading them out through the week instead of buying single serving packs. Make a big pot of red beans and rice that the whole family can enjoy throughout the week.

Ideas from our nutritionists

Hide fruits and vegetables with lunches like a banana “hot dog” with raisins and pretzels or veggie quinoa salad with fresh fruit. Even on days that your child may want something less nutritious like a hamburger or pizza, make it healthy by incorporating fruits and vegetables. There are no rules to packing lunch, just make sure that what you pack contains a well-balanced combination of carbohydrates, protein, fiber, and fats. Try to avoid an overload of sugar.

Use these tips to fuel kids’ minds and bodies for the day ahead! Click here to learn more about school wellness at Children’s Hospital New Orleans.

Visit our website for more tips on nutrition for school age children, and to learn more about Children’s Hospital Baton Rouge Specialty Center.