That time of year is here again — back to school! A healthy, balanced lunch is an essential component to a positive and successful school day. In fact, children who eat nutritious meals for breakfast and lunch have improved memory, better attention spans, better classroom behavior, and improved mood.
It’s no secret that getting the little ones and yourself out the door in the morning can be chaotic. Use this checklist to plan lunches for the week and stock your kitchen with kid-approved essentials that they picked out.
Back-To-School Lunchbox Checklist
Main Course (pick 1)
Tortilla Roll Up/Pinwheels/Sandwich Sushi
Pita Bread and Hummus
Fruits and Veggies (pick 2)
Dairy (pick 1)
Snack/Treat (pick 1)
Rice Krispie Treat
Don’t forgot the ice pack to keep food safe! And throw in a little lunchbox love to let your kids know you’re thinking about them. Include a thoughtful note, words of encouragement, or even a fun trivia question. A sweet message can go a long way to brighten your little one’s day.
Give these sweet and savory Banana Berry Roll Ups a try! Serve as a wrap or cut into 1-inch slices to create ‘sushi’.
Banana Berry Roll Ups
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Makes: 2 servings
- 2 (8-inch) whole wheat tortillas, warmed according to package instructions
- ¼ cup creamy or crunchy peanut butter
- ½ cup strawberries, thinly sliced lengthwise
- 2 medium bananas, peeled
- 2 tsp. raisins
- ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1 (5.3-ounce) cup strawberry banana yogurt
- Place tortilla on a flat surface.
- Spread peanut butter evenly on tortilla, leaving ½-inch border around the edge.
- Arrange strawberries on one side of the tortilla in a single layer about 1-inch from edge.
- Place whole banana on strawberry layer and sprinkle with raisins and cinnamon.
- Tightly roll up the tortilla, working toward the berry-free edge and slice.
- Repeat with remaining ingredients and serve with yogurt for dipping.
These Italian Chicken Quesadillas are another kid-favorite lunch that can be served hot or cold.
Italian Chicken Quesadilla
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Makes: 4 servings
- 1 tsp. olive oil
- 1 (8-ounce) package sliced baby bella or white mushrooms
- 1 tsp. Italian seasoning
- ½ tsp. garlic powder
- 1½ jarred roasted red peppers, sliced into strips
- 10 ounces precooked or rotisserie chicken, chopped (about 2 cups)
- 4 whole wheat wraps
- ¾ cup Italian blend shredded cheese
- 1 cup pizza sauce, divided
- Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms, Italian seasoning and garlic powder; sauté until browned and tender. Add baby spinach, stir and cook just until wilted.
- Layer one side of each wrap with one-fourth of the mushroom mixture, roasted red peppers, chicken and cheese; fold remaining side of wrap over to close.
- Repeat to make 4 quesadillas.
- Spray a grill pan with nonstick cooking spray. Add 2 quesadillas at a time and grill 5 minutes per side until cheese has melted and grill marks appear; repeat with remaining 2 quesadillas.
Slice into triangles and serve hot or cold with pizza sauce for dipping.
Meredith McGrath, RD, LDN