Although some kids have gone back to school already, mine are just going next week, so I am deep into the back to school shopping and healthy school lunch ideas thing.

Since school lunches are an ongoing thing, even if your kids have been back to school for awhile, you might need some help thinking up some unique and edible healthy school lunch and snack ideas that your kids will eat, so I will be posting an article series over the next week or so with 'brown bag' healthy lunch ideas for the back to school crowd.


Brown bag lunches has been a phrase for the 'pack it yourself' lunch, the kind that millions of students going to school take and eat, every day.

Brown bag lunches today are not your mother’s lunch packing job. For kids, brown bag lunches have gone all modern and flashy. When you offer a brown bag lunch to your kids or other members of the family, here are some essentials to have on hand.

  • The packaging is part of the presentation. Whether you use a brown paper bag or a lunch box, express your own style. A brown paper bag can be decorated with stickers or unique drawings if you are gifted with the talent. Lunch boxes used to be metal and covered with super heroes. Now they are insulated and look like purses or a small camping bag. The lunch bag should fit the style of the carrier.

  • One of the nice things about having a lunch kit is that you can use a cold pack to increase the variety of healthy foods that your child can take to school, helping it to remain fresh until lunch time. Store your cold pack in the freezer in a leak proof plastic bag. When the cold pack begins to melt, the food is protected from contamination from the pack if it should get punctured. Cold packs are good for several hours each day. They are economical, so purchase an extra just in case it doesn't get put in the freezer the night before (as if that would happen).

  • Containers prevent cross contamination. Each school child had opened their lunch once and seen a sandwich all soggy with the pink tint of a drink that has opened up. Containers prevent that. Lots of lunch bags come with their own containers that expressly fit in that bag. For ones that do not, buy various sizes of containers with tight fitting lids so even if the lunch bag turns over nothing will be disturbed. This also saves the land fill and makes more variety and choices possible.

  • Add a note of love. This doesn’t just work for kids but adults as well. Opening lunch and finding an encouraging word or two from someone who loves you can make the difference between a good day and a bad day getting worse. Don’t worry about kids getting embarrassed. Eventually, their friends will begin looking for notes in their lunches too.


I'm going shopping today, and here are a few of the things on my list.

For the containers, I am going to have a good look through my friend Lisa's website as well. She has some great back to school containers and a ton of recipe and quick food ideas. Her site is at

Here's my list and a few thoughts… 

  • Containers that will hold a sandwich, dip, small snack, medium snack, large snack, fruit.
  • Thermos for hot drinks and wide mouth thermos for leftover type things that can't be poured – preferably not plastic. (yes, it will be more prone to breakage, but there is no plastic leaching issue – I'd rather have to possibly replace the thermos.)
  • Drink container so you don't have to buy juice boxes.
  • Foil wrap, wax paper, plastic wrap (for emergencies, use of reusable container's will drastically cut down on packaging waste. I use plastic wrap only when absolutely necessary). I have even used clean milk bags, but I'm told that isn't cool :0)
  • Cold Packs – since a lot of the healthier foods are fresh and don't tolerate room temperature as well, a cold pack is essential to allow you a much bigger selection of healthy lunch items.
  • Splurge on a nice set of plastic fork/spoon/knife if you like, or a special spoon and fork if age appropriate only to be used for your child's lunch. This keeps the likely hood of it being easy to find and ready to go and your child will like having his own special utensils, making it more likely he or she will use them for the good stuff.
  • Some fun stickers can go a long way in making lunchtime more fun for the younger crowd.
  • Also, a little note, a cute drawing, a simple heart with your child's name in it is always a nice way to start lunch time.

All in all, make it fun and make it healthy for a better all around back to school experience and a load off of your mind.

One of the best ways to ensure that your children have a healthy lunch is to make time for planning.

If you are looking for some great meal planning ideas that you can use to create healthy school lunches or for any meal, check out Meal Time On Time – Meal Planning Made Easy. 

Jan Ferrante - Queen of KAOS

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Jan Ferrante

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