Back to school means back to routine. To help students achieve success in the new school year, start off the year right by making healthy lunches a priority. Multiple studies have shown that good nutrition plays a huge role in academic success! When children eat a nourishing lunch, they are more likely to have better concentration in the classroom, more energy for activities like phys-ed, and higher test scores.

For many parents and students the back to school lunch chore can be a source of stress, but it does not have to be. With a little creativity and advanced prepping it is easy to create customized lunches that everyone can enjoy!

  • One of the best ways to get school lunches on track is to organize lunch items into 4 different bins. This will save you time during the busy school week, allow your child to pack their own school lunch in minutes, and help ensure lunches are balanced. (Bins and small food containers can be purchased at a dollar store so the investment is minimal.)
  • When kids help make their lunches, they are more likely to eat them. Set a family goal to shop on the weekends and complete prep work on Sunday afternoon so your family is ready for the next school week.

Fill your 4 bins with foods from each food groups below. Let your child pack their own lunch and ensure they pick at least one item from each bin.

 Bin #1 – Vegetables/Fruit:

Carrots, celery, broccoli, cauliflower, grape tomatoes, snap peas, sweet peppers.

Apples, bananas, fruit cups, grapes, watermelon or other melon cubes, berries, fruit salad, unsweetened fruit cups.

 Bin #2 – Protein:

Roasted chickpeas, seed or nut butters, nuts, hummus, sliced roast meat (chicken breast), boiled eggs, three bean salad.

One of the strongest recommendations coming from consultation for the new Canada’s Food Guide is for Canadians to include more plant based proteins in their diets. One of the best ways to do this is to add pulses to your kids’ lunches. Pulses are dry peas, beans, lentils, split peas and chickpeas. This summer my kids and I signed-up for the #HalfCupHabit through and we received fantastic weekly e-newsletters that included all kinds of great ideas for adding ½ cup of pulses into our diets three times a week. If you are looking for ways to add pulses to your kid’s lunches I would recommend signing-up. The recipes and ideas you will receive are simple, tasty and child friendly!

 Bin #3 – Dairy:

Yogurt, cheese portions, cheese sticks, cottage cheese, pudding cups, containers of milk.

 Bin #4 – Grains and Healthy Treats:

Whole wheat crackers, bread, tortillas, English muffins, pitas, popcorn, bagels.

Homemade mini-muffins, homemade high fibre cookies, trail mix, granola bars, fruit leather.

I would encourage you to try this lunch bin method for quickly preparing healthy lunches. You’ll be surprised how it will keep you and your kids organized for healthy school lunches!