Learn how to make healthy lunches.

Back to school means back to early mornings, homework time, and lunch packing. The school year is a busy time for parents and kids, which can lead to stress and feeling short on time. While it may be easier to have your kids grab a slice of pizza in the school cafeteria, it’s important to carve out a few minutes to put together a wholesome lunch for your kids – and yourself!

Make lunch packing a family activity. Have kids accompany you to the grocery store and choose items they’d like to try. At home, let them help pack their lunches. By having kids be the helpers, they will be more likely to eat what’s in their lunchbox. Have them pick the grain, veggie, fruit and protein. Add in white, low-fat milk, water, or seltzer water to drink. Bon appetite! A yummy, healthy lunch is ready to go!

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Ideas for Healthy Lunches

Make lunch fun this school year by trying a few of these cool lunch combos:

Main dish: Tortilla wrap filled with hummus, deli meat, tofu and veggies.
Sides: Fresh fruit, string cheese and veggies

Main dish: Tortilla wrap with nut butter (try almond or cashew) and sliced fruit (bananas, strawberries, etc.)
Sides: Raw veggies (carrot sticks, sliced peppers, cucumber)

Main dish: Make-your-own Lunchable! Combine whole grain crackers, sliced cheese and deli meat
Sides: Raw veggies with a dip, watermelon or strawberries

Main dish: Make-your-own sandwich. Have kids pick the protein (nut butter, hummus, deli meat, rotisserie chicken) and the toppings (lettuce, tomato, onion, avocado).
Sides: Celery and low-fat cream cheese and fresh fruit

Main dish: Tortellini salad with chopped veggies (tomato, zucchini, green pepper)
Sides: Edamame, apple slices, fruit leather, and string cheese

Main dish: Soup in a thermos
Sides: Raw veggies and dip, fruit salad, and whole grain crackers

Main dish: Quesadillas with rotisserie chicken or pulled pork and cheese
Sides: Raw veggies and melon balls

Main dish: Nacho day! Stack whole grain tortilla chips with salsa, shredded cheese, black beans, olives, and shredded lettuce
Sides: Fresh fruit and carrot sticks

You can also celebrate special holidays by incorporating themes with lunch. For Valentine’s Day, use red lunch items such as fresh red pepper strips, tomato slices, red apple slices, or strawberries. On Halloween, don’t pack lots of candy. Instead, wrap deli meat around string cheese for mummy bites. Or add black and orange treats like black olives or roasted yams.

Make sandwiches fun by utilizing different shapes and sizes of cookie cutters, or switch them up by using mini pita bread.

Store your goodies in reusable plastic Tupperware, and carry it all in a colorful, insulated lunch bag.

Packing lunch won’t feel like such a chore. By working together with your kids, you’ll be making healthy choices and happy memories!

About UPMC

A $21 billion health care provider and insurer, Pittsburgh-based UPMC is inventing new models of patient-centered, cost-effective, accountable care. The largest nongovernmental employer in Pennsylvania, UPMC integrates more than 90,000 employees, 40 hospitals, 700 doctors’ offices and outpatient sites, and a 3.8 million-member Insurance Services Division, the largest medical insurer in western Pennsylvania. In the most recent fiscal year, UPMC contributed $1.4 billion in benefits to its communities, including more care to the region’s most vulnerable citizens than any other health care institution, and paid more than $500 million in federal, state, and local taxes. Working in close collaboration with the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences, UPMC shares its clinical, managerial, and technological skills worldwide through its innovation and commercialization arm, UPMC Enterprises, and through UPMC International. U.S. News & World Report consistently ranks UPMC Presbyterian Shadyside on its annual Honor Roll of America’s Best Hospitals and ranks UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh on its Honor Roll of America’s Best Children’s Hospitals. For more information, go to UPMC.com.