Tips for Packing Healthy School Lunches and Snacks

October 10, 2016

School will be here before you know it. With the return of busy mornings and hectic evenings, packing healthy meals and snacks can feel like a big challenge. Our Nutrition Education team has rounded up some of their favorite tips and recipes to help make packing nutritious meals and snacks a breeze for family members of all ages.

Empower kids

Research shows that children who help make their own lunches are more likely to eat them at school. Simple, portable dishes are best. Check out these recipes for hummus and veggie wraps and peanut butter and banana roll ups, which kids can help prepare; these bean and corn pitas and tuna apple salad recipes are also great options to try.

Strive for balance

Meals do not need to be complex. Aim to include foods from at least three of the five food groups — fruits, vegetables, grains, proteins, and dairy — in every meal. And, try to provide two food groups in each snack.

my plate

Plan for leftovers
Double the yield on a recipe you make for dinner. Then package leftovers in single-serve Tupperware for an easy grab-and-go, home-cooked lunch.

Salads and other dishes that can be consumed cold are especially wonderful, since it’s not always easy to heat leftovers. Here are recipes for cold noodle salad and couscous vegetable pilaf, favorites that can be eaten hot or cold.

Prep ahead
Chop or spiralize veggies in advance. Zucchini/butternut squash noodles will stay fresh in the fridge for 3–5 days, and chopped vegetables like carrots, onion and pepper will last a week when refrigerated properly in a sealed plastic bag or Tupperware. Combine prepped veggies for salad and pack dressing in a small container; dress the salad when you are ready to eat it so the vegetables do not get soggy. If using veggie “noodles,” add sauce and protein (such as tuna, cheese or beans) in the Tupperware and heat it before eating for a healthy, filling meal.

Hard boil eggs on a Sunday morning. Place one layer of eggs in a pot, cover with water, bring to a boil, cover, turn off heat, and let sit in the covered pot for 12–15 minutes. Once cool, place eggs in the refrigerator for a quick source of protein on the go.


The San Francisco-Marin Food Bank’s mission is to end hunger in San Francisco and Marin, where one in four neighbors is at risk of hunger. We envision a community where everyone is able to obtain enough nutritious food — in a dignified manner — to support the health and well-being of themselves and their families. We address hunger head on: from our pantry network and home-delivered groceries, to our nutrition-education classes and food-stamp enrollment, we work in many ways to nourish and empower neighbors in need. Learn more