Getting into the groove of back to school

By Leika Suzumura, R.D., former PCC Nutrition Educator

This article was originally published in September 2012

Q: It’s time for packing lunch again. Can you help me with some new ideas?

A: The ultimate challenge when packing school lunches is keeping them interesting, tasty and balanced. Involving your child in the process can set you up for success. Having a good thermos is also essential, and it never hurts to have a flashy bag that makes packed lunch look chic! Here are some ideas I’ve found successful:


Hot dishes

Soups: They’re a great way to get protein, grains and veggies all in one. Go for chicken noodle, lentil or chili.

Fried Rice: Use up that leftover rice and toss in that last little piece of salmon or chicken with some frozen peas.

Pasta variations: Spaghetti, lasagna, ravioli, even pasta salad can make a satisfying lunch. One of my daughter’s favorites is “Mac Chee Pea”: macaroni and cheese with frozen peas. Easy and oh, so good!

Meatloaf or turkey loaf: Pick up a slice in the PCC Deli, add a roll and a side of coleslaw and you’re set.


Beyond the PB&J

  • Tuna, salmon or egg salad on a croissant or pita
  • Whole grain bagel with cream cheese, smoked salmon and avocado slices or a crisp lettuce leaf to add a splash of color.
  • Different nut and seed butters
  • Crackers, cheese, lunch meats and dip. Some kids prefer to have everything separate to assemble themselves.
  • Turkey wraps using PCC spreads such as artichoke dip, tofu aioli or guacamole


Other things to consider

Rotate the menu, keep it exciting. Throughout the week, try various types of grains (pasta, rice, pita) and switch up the protein. Find veggies your child will eat: carrot sticks, veggies with ranch, or veggies mixed right into the main dish. Favorite Friday! My daughter loves when I pack something special on Fridays so she can look forward to the surprise.

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