I have three children and have packed more than 15,360 lunches over the last twenty years. And when you think about that bold number it should be apparent that what we include in our kids’ lunch boxes has a profound impact on their health. So the easier, healthier, and more affordable lunch, the better for everyone.

Packing healthy lunches can be tedious – but it doesn’t have to be. Over the years, I have used a short acronym to help prepare lunches for my children: Pack Fresh Powerful Food. It’s not only an aid for myself, but also a way to teach growing minds how to be more mindful about their food choices. Essentially this acronym is a reminder to include plants, healthy fats, protein, and fruit and fiber.

Plants contain essential phytonutrients which are the backbone of our health. They provide us with vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, and protein. Plants offer the most nutritional bang for your buck, and can be extremely versatile and easily eaten with a variety of sauces and dressings. Guacamole is one of my all-time favorite sauces because it contains lots of healthy fats and phytonutrients, but here are some other great options for dipping and more:

  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Red Peppers
  • Cucumber
  • Edamame or peas
  • Kale
  • Potatoes

Fats are also important for growing (and busy) minds because they provide a more sustained source of energy, unlike carbohydrates which provide a quick burst of energy. Some of my favorite healthy fats can be found in veggies (like guacamole and avocados) but it’s also important to include foods like nuts and even some avocado oil dressing in your school lunch.

It’s important to not forget protein as well for growing bodies – but don’t get too caught up on sticking to traditional protein. You can include the basics, like organic turkey or grass-fed beef jerky, or you can opt for something a little different like the protein found in nuts and nut butters. Hard boiled eggs also make a great source of protein as do beans and legumes (hummus is a great option). And remember there is also plenty of protein in vegetables as well, like broccoli.

Last, make sure to include a healthy source of fiber, especially through fresh fruits and veggies. Refined sugars and desserts are fun to eat, but don’t provide the best balance for your child’s health. Instead, fruit is naturally sweet and delicious and makes an excellent dessert in a lunch box. It packs phytonutrients and fiber, with a taste kids love.

Here are a few of my favorite lunch box options. I use bento boxes because it’s a great system for keeping foods separate and packing a perfectly balanced variety.

Egg and Potato Bento Box

  • Hard Boiled Egg with Lime (quartered)
  • Baked Red Potato with an Organic Pickle
  • Red Pepper Strips with dressing
  • Green Grapes

Classic Turkey Sandwich Bento Box

  • Organic Turkey Sandwich with Lettuce
  • Avocado with dressing
  • Roasted Nuts with Dark Chocolate
  • Cherries (or Orange Slices)

Nacho Bento Box

  • Canned Beans with Shredded Cheese
  • Salsa and Guacamole
  • Tortilla Chips
  • Carrot Sticks with dressing

Burrito Wrap Bento Box

  • Burrito Wrap with Refried Beans, Guacamole and Cheese
  • Salsa over Lettuce
  • Pineapple
  • Roasted Nuts with Dark Chocolate
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About the Author

Dr. Angela Hind

Dr. Hind practiced traditional Internal Medicine for 17 years. Watching patients suffer under the weight of chronic illnesses such as cancer, Diabetes, and autoimmune disease, she became acutely aware of the inability of the current medical system to prevent and treat the growing epidemic of chronic disease. In 2012 she received additional training in molecular toxicology and Functional Medicine — the personalized approach to preventing and treating disease using diet, toxin avoidance, and stress reduction. In 2014 she opened You, M.D., a consulting firm dedicated to providing accurate information about the intersection between environmental toxins, industrial food and health, for businesses wanting to use health as a guide for societal change.