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Inspiration for Packing a Healthy School Lunch

We’re two months into the traditional calendar school year for Wake County Public Schools.  Kids have gotten into the groove, and parents are now used to the daily routine of helping with homework and packing lunches. 

Regardless of how many times you pack a lunch, it never seems to get easier.  How do you keep it kid friendly and healthy at the same time? 

If you Google packing school lunch, there are lots of blogs and websites dedicated to packing a healthy school lunch, but between the Bento box and healthier “momables suggestions” (the homemade version of lunchables), there are not many healthy, portable, innovative ideas that don’t take hours to prepare or look like something meant for the museum not the school lunch table.

As I struggled to pack my own child’s lunch, I decided maybe a dietitian specializing in pediatric nutrition might have some better ideas, and she did.  Here’s an excerpt from the conversation I had with WakeMed Cary Hospital Dietitian Parul Kharod:

Moms and dads are many things including personal chefs.   Make sure you child’s lunches include good sources of lean protein, whole grain carbohydrates and healthy sources of fat.  Also, you have to make sure it can be eaten quickly at almost any time of the day since children’s lunchtimes vary between 10:30 am and 1:00 pm.

Healthy Carbohydrate: sandwiches made from whole wheat bread, whole grain wraps, whole wheat pasta salads, whole grain crackers

Healthy Protein: plant-based proteins like beans and nuts, chicken, tuna and hardboiled eggs

Healthy Snacks: yogurt, hummus with veggies, cut up fruit

Things to Offer in Moderation: chips, small dessert

Things to Avoid: white bread, crackers, processed meats, canned fruits, juice or sports drinks, 100 calorie packs, snacks made with vegetable shortening or hydrogenated oil

Need more inspiration or guidance for healthy lunches?  Parul also blessed the following web sites that give real-world options for kids’ lunches. 

Cooking Light – Packing Healthy Lunches

Kids Eat Right

Chop Chop Magazine (a great article and I love the simple fun ideas with the cookie cutter sandwich) ()

If you have other great, easy ideas that your kids adore, please share them with us!

If you have any questions for the dietitians, please send an email at  To schedule individual nutrition counseling sessions, call WakeMed Cary Hospital Outpatient Nutrition Services at: 919-350-2358.