Ultimate Back to School Lunches

The ultimate school lunch is a lunch that energizes and refuels busy, engaged kids. Living, learning and being active takes fuel – but the fuel only works if your kids will eat what is packed! Get your kids involved by making it fun. Try a dinner table conversation starter like “What are 3 fruits or veggies you would be really excited to see in your lunch box?” or “If you entered a contest called The Ultimate Back to School Lunch Formula what would your formula be?” You might not LOVE all of the answers but these conversations starting points can be modified to inspire one or two new lunch ingredients that have health in mind. My ultimate formula is one part grain/starch + one part protein + one part color from veggies and fruits + one part “special and sweet”.

BENTO style lunch boxes, or bowls, make ultimate back to school lunches easy for many reasons. They invite simple creativity, making it fun to plan a variety of lunches that get kids involved. Each section of the box is part of your ultimate lunch formula:

Start with a grain or other carbohydrate such as pasta, quinoa, brown rice, or a roll.

+ a protein such as beans or hummus, hard boiled egg, cheese cubes, or meat.

+ a fruit such as colorful berries or applesauce with cinnamon or + a vegetable that you know they will eat. For some reason my kids will eat purple carrots WAY before they will eat orange ones. A simple caesar salad is also always a YES in my house.

+ something “special and sweet” (a small piece of chocolate, a cookie (we love Mi-Del Swedish-Style Ginger Snaps) or a sweet little note from YOU).


Taco Bowl Ultimate Lunch Formula = Quinoa + Black Beans + Seasoned Protein (chicken or a crumbled black bean burger works well) + roasted sweet potato or peppers + salsa. Optional are cheese, avocado, or sour cream. I would pair this with a note from me “you are smart, kind, and beautiful- love, mom”.

BENTO style lunch boxes, or bowls, can be loaded up the night before to decrease morning stress. This is key to starting your day grounded and feeling your best.

So, get your creative juices flowing, get your kids involved, and keep your focus simple and colorful. Embrace “back to school” as an opportunity for you and your family to focus on feeling amazing all year.


Written for Healthy Living by Kimberly Evans MS RD.
Kimberly Evans is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and food enthusiast with over 30 years of experience in helping clients achieve health as a lifestyle. She firmly believes the “good life” should be every day life. Kimberly has a life long love of ballet, running and yoga. Kimberly is passionate about making it easy to connect to multiple sources of nourishment to support your health and vitality.