Back to School Lunches

lunch bento box

It’s much easier to make lunches (just like dinners) if you plan ahead. Throwing together a lunch last minute as you are running out the door in the morning is a recipe for disaster. Planning ahead is crucial. You can even prep all your lunches at the beginning of the week!

Some picky eaters don’t like their food to touch, so buying divided lunch containers to keep food separate is a must! This also adds an element of fun and helps with portion control. Don’t forget to add an ice pack for foods that need to stay cool, such as yogurt, cheese, etc. Food safety is important, especially in August when it’s still warm outside.

If you’re running out of ideas to make for lunch, or have a kid with a particular palate, I’ve got some ideas for how to “brown bag” a nutritious lunch this school year:

  • Include a main dish, veggie, fruit, and “snack” in each lunch.
  • Ideas to include for main dish: eggs, rollups/sandwiches (ham, chicken, cheese, hummus, beans, turkey, avocado), salads, hummus.
  • Ideas for veggies: cucumber, broccoli, zucchini, cauliflower, snap peas, tomatoes, carrots, celery.
  • Ideas for fruit: bananas, apples, berries, peaches, grapes, applesauce, melon, mango, oranges.
  • Ideas for “snacks”: cheese, yogurt, seeds (pumpkin, sunflower), raw nuts, dried fruit, nut butter.

Here is what a week of meals could look like:

  • Turkey and cheddar cheese roll-up (on whole wheat tortilla), fresh berries, yogurt, homemade trail mix (this may need to be peanut-free; check your school nut policy)
  • Hard boiled eggs, baby carrots and ranch, pretzels, fresh cut peaches
  • Homemade pizza “Lunchable” with whole-wheat pita, pizza sauce, grated cheese, pepperoni (or chicken), grapes, black olives, broccoli and ranch
  • Sunbutter and multi-grain crackers, green/red pepper slices, nectarine, cheese stick
  • Hummus, pita bread, cucumber slices, snap peas, almonds, (check school’s nut policy), fresh berry mix

**Don’t forget about leftovers! You can send your child’s favorite dinner leftovers to school for lunch.

As an added bonus, keep your child’s nutrition on track with these healthy snack ideas from Jaime Oliver. Make them ahead of time and have snacks ready for an after-school treat! You can see them on his website here.

Did you know that August was National Sandwich Month? It is appropriate given how many kids have sandwiches for lunch every day and they go back to school this month. I prefer to use them as part of an amazing weekend treat, or an easy weekday dinner.

What is your favorite sandwich? Grilled cheese is a comfort food favorite of mine, but you might know that this fried-in-butter sandwich is usually very high in fat. That’s why I decided to make it into a healthy version while keeping all the melty, gooey goodness. Using fresh, organic ingredients will take it from “ho-hum” to haute.

You can also use a Panini Maker to make your grilled cheese (or any sandwich) healthier. I use my Panini Maker to make vegan grilled cheese sandwiches all the time! Here is one at Target for only $29.95!

Guiltless Grilled Cheese with Roma Tomatoes and Fresh Organic Oregano


  • 2 Slices large whole wheat bread
  • 1 1/2 Slices light Swiss cheese
  • 1 1/2 Slices fat-free Cheddar cheese
  • 1 Small organic Roma tomato, sliced
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh organic oregano, finely chopped
  • olive oil spray

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One of the best things about summertime is ripe, fresh, sweet fruits. In August one of my favorites are peaches. You can broil or grill them to bring out their natural sweetness, freeze them and put them in smoothies, or even eat them fresh right off the tree! Either way you eat them, they are delicious

You could try to make this dessert in the winter and it would be pretty good. But in the summer, when the peaches are just bursting with sweet juice and the cherries are blossoming your taste buds are going to freak out!

Peach-Cherry Cobbler



  • 4 Medium white peaches, peeled, pitted and cubed
  • 2 cups Bing cherries, pitted
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup organic palm sugar
  • 2 tablespoons whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, ground


  • 1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/3 cup organic palm sugar (or ZSweet)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted organic butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup low fat buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon sugar in the raw (also called turbinado sugar)

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In California we’ve literally got fresh organic peaches falling from the trees here in the Summertime. The only challenge is to figure out more delicious ways to eat ’em. Here’s one more peachy treat, for breakfast this time.

Peach-Raspberry Parfait


  • 6oz low fat Greek yogurt
  • 1 Medium peach, pitted and diced
  • 1/4 cup raspberries
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin seeds, dried and unsalted
  • 1 tablespoon honey (use organic ingredients whenever possible)

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Even though it will most likely be warm for a couple of months (at least on the West Coast), enjoy the last “official” month of summer. Take some time to soak in the warmth and the beauty of God’s creation this month and appreciate all the wonderful things we have around us.

“Breathe the sweetness that hovers in August… “- Denise Levertov



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