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Tips for Making a Healthy School/Work Lunch

If you have been off of work for the summer or your kids are now heading back to school, it’s time to start thinking about what to pack for lunch. While many people may choose to go out to lunch or have their children buy school lunch, making your own lunch is often a healthier option.

With that being said, sometimes brown-bagging-it can become monotonous, so I have created a list of some of my favorite healthy lunch ideas and tips.

Before you prepare a delicious brown-bag lunch for yourself or your child keep the following fundamentals in mind:

  • Make a lunch that includes a least 3 foods groups
  • Try to limit pre-packaged snack food items to no more than 1 per lunch. Remember: fresh is best!

Tips and ideas for creating a healthy lunch


Start off by making a grocery list

Having a grocery list allows you to come up with a plan for the upcoming week. Grocery store apps (several grocery store apps are free) can help you create a customized grocery list, create meals (based on recipes included in the apps database), and help you stay on budget. A few of my personal favorites include:

  • Mealime
  • Mealboard
  • ChefTap
  • Grocery Pal


Are you a sandwich lover?

Consider one of the following options:

  • Whole wheat bread with slices of roasted turkey breast, sliced tomatoes, sliced avocado, and olive oil mayonnaise.
  • Multigrain Sandwich Thins with peanut butter and thinly sliced strawberries.
  • Light multigrain english muffin (toasted) with hummus, cucumber slices, and crumbled feta cheese.

Consider one of the following options if you prefer a low carb option:

  • Make a lettuce wrap
  • Make your own salad. Two of my personal favorites include the following:
    • Butter lettuce, hard boiled eggs, cucumbers, tomatoes, avocado, and balsamic vinaigrette dressing
    • Shredded romaine lettuce, slices of roasted turkey breast, dried cranberries, and raspberry vinaigrette dressing
  • In a time crunch? Take a chopped salad kit (toppings and dressing are included in the kit) to work or school.


Are you a veggie lover?

Consider thinly sliced veggies as a cracker alternative. Some of my favorites include:

  • Sliced radishes with cream cheese and sesame seeds
  • Sliced cucumbers with tuna salad or chicken salad
  • Celery sticks with peanut butter or sunflower butter

Do you like a random mixture of foods for lunch?

Buy a Bento Box Tupperware container and create your own unique combination of foods. The following is one of my favorite combinations: cheddar cheese cubes, mixed nuts, cherry tomatoes, and fresh berries.

Are you concerned about keeping your food cold until lunch?

Consider one of the following options:

  • Pack a frozen Greek yogurt or a frozen yogurt tube. The yogurt will thaw by lunch time and help to keep other food items in your lunch at a safe temperature.
  • Pack a sandwich bag full of frozen fruit. The fruit will thaw by lunch time and help to keep other food items in your lunch at a safe temperature. You may need to eat the thawed frozen fruit with a fork or spoon!

What’s your favorite lunch idea? Please share your ideas with the community!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • Samuel Taylor moderator
    11 months ago

    Hi Meryl!

    Making lunches can be a challenge because lunch can provide two functions of the day: nutrition and comfort.

    Packing something you will find enjoyment eating is important because it will either improve a less than positive day or it will reinforce a great day with further comfort. Lunch is a time for us to step back from work or school and enjoy a time for ourselves to decompress, so eating something that we love can help with that decompression.

    Nutrition is also evidently important. I think you hit the nail on the head with variety though. Following an ABCMV philosophy is always a good start.

    A-adequacy (nutrient density)
    B-balance (nutrient balance)
    C-calorie Control
    M-moderation (too much of anything isn’t good)
    V-variety (include an array of food groups)

    I find that making bowls or salads can be a good way of going about lunch. It’s easy to prep, easy to pack, you can cover a lot of food groups in one dish and it’s easy to change it up by taking out/adding veggies grains or spices.

    Thank you for the post! School time is here and it’s important to stay healthy.

    -Samuel, Team

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