Food September 9, 2021

Easiest lunchbox prep tips and tricks for back to school

WATCH: Yummy back-to-school wraps are the fun lunch hack you didn’t know you needed

Packing a lunchbox doesn't have to be a complicated chore and these tips and ideas will simplify everything from sandwiches to snacks.

Food blogger Feel Good Foodie, Yumna Jawad, shared her back-to-school lunch ideas with "Good Morning America" Food from how to make it healthy to keeping it handheld and portable.

Jawad told "GMA" she hopes "these kids lunchbox ideas serve as an inspiration and encourage your little ones to eat more whole foods and especially fruits and vegetables."

"Keep it colorful, keep it simple and keep it interesting," she encouraged.

Check out all of Jawad's ideas in her own words below.

Healthy Back-to-School Ideas

If you are packing a lunch box, it’s good to keep it as well-balanced as possible with a mix of protein, fruit, vegetables and whole grains. This will give your kids energy to make it through the afternoon.

Sandwiches and handheld snacks

If your kids love having sandwiches, but you want to avoid deli meats and other processed meats, here are some yummy substitutes. Don’t worry that your kids need an abundance of protein at lunch. They just need a well-balanced meal that contains whole grains, fruits and vegetables that will provide them ample nutrition and energy for their busy days.

When making chicken salad, tuna salad, or egg salads consider using Greek Yogurt or avocado instead of mayonaisse.

Swap the regular lunchmeat for vegan “turkey” that is made from tofu -- aka tofurkey -- which tastes just like the real stuff and doesn’t have all those nitrates and preservatives.

Use a variety of hard, soft, cold and grilled cheeses with sprouted whole grain breads (I do this a lot).

Sunbutter (for nut-free schools) with bananas or other fruits or even honey in a wrap.

Sweet treats

No-Bake Pumpkin Spice Balls: Have the kids help you make the batter. It’s vegan, no-bake and packed with lots of good protein and fats. Such a nutritious and delicious treat!

Kid-Friendly Muffins: The batter is pretty basic for this, and the fun comes in what you choose to stuff them with. These can be made sweet or savory and are so quick and easy to make. Plus, they can easily made dairy-free and vegan, they’re great for a grab-and-go breakfast or lunch, or a fun weekend baking project with the kids.

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Non-sandwich options that save well

If your kids don’t mind having something other than a sandwich, you can put leftovers from last night’s dinner. I sometimes make extras for this very reason, which is always practical for busy days, or you can try some of these ideas:

Macaroni Salad: Pick their favorite pasta shape and throw in kid-friendly veggies like carrots, peas and corn. You can use any on-hand salad dressing or the one I use with pickle juice in this macaroni salad.

Caprese Pasta Salad: Green pasta is so fun for kids. Try to find little pearl mozzarella and cherry tomatoes to add to it, and it makes for a colorful nutritious lunch!

Tomato Cucumber Avocado Salad: Since I pack the lunches at night, I usually add the avocado in the morning and make sure it’s well coated in the lemon juice from the salad dressing.

What not to pack?

Packaged fruit juice often contain a lot of sugar, so it’s best to avoid these as well as other high sugar pre-packaged foods like fruit straps and store-bought muesli and cereal bars. It’s best to avoid anything processed like deli meat and opt for fresh fruits and veggies instead.

Help for picky eaters

If you have a fussy eater, I find that it’s best not to stray too much from what you know they like. Ask them what they would like to eat so they feel like they have control. Make the lunch boxes colorful and do fun things like cut sandwiches into shapes.

Best lunchbox drinks

It’s important that children stay hydrated throughout the day, and more so in the hot weather. Plain water is great for them to take to school, let them pick out a water bottle with a design they love and hopefully they will use it more! Try to stay away from sweetened drinks, if they don’t like plain water, try adding a few pieces of frozen fruit to give it some flavor.