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Back To School: Lunch Tips

Yvonne Tally
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Tips that will save you money and time…

What Will Stay for Hours in a Lunchbox?
Pick a lunchbox that suits your needs. Teens will need a bigger lunchbox if they are involved in after-school activities. Look for lunch boxes with cold storage that does not take up food space.


  • Keep out of the sun or warm environments
  • Water Bottle Pack: Fill a water bottle 1/2 full of water and freeze overnight. Add cold water and use as the cold pack and the beverage. Will work with juice also but will not stay as cold or as long.
  • Cold Pack — most items such as sushi — a teen favorite — will stay below room temperature for the school day if kept in a cold pack lunchbox.
  • Brown Bag — if using a container such as a bag, make sure the items you pack are not highly perishable like: dairy, fish, meat, poultry, spreads with mayo, mustard or ketchup.

Lunch Items That Last
If it can stay in your cupboards or pantry, then it is going to stay in your kid’s lunch.

Good choices:

  • nuts
  • raisins
  • natural popcorn
  • cereals, crackers, chips (organic and natural)
  • whole fresh fruit like apples and oranges

Lunch Items That Don’t Last

  • dairy
  • fish
  • meat and poultry
  • spreads with mayo, mustard, ketchup

Tricks To Keeping Things Fresh In The Lunch

  • Use a cold drink as a cold pack — a water bottle with 1/2 frozen water and cold water to keep the temp down.
  • Freeze the juice and use as a cold pack.
  • Pack items that need to be chilled in the middle of the lunchbox together.
  • Store lunches in a cool place and out of the sun.

Time Savers
Have one day a week to prep your weekly lunches and snacks. Once you get comfortable with the routine, add dinner as part of your menu planning — you will save about 20% at the grocery store and about 30-60 minutes each day just by planning.


  • Make a menu (sample menu)
  • Make the lunch the night before — store all items in the fridge that need to be chilled and on the same shelf.
  • Pack the lunch the night before and put the whole thing in the fridge.
  • Pre-package lunch items for the week all at one time — Sunday evening works great — it’s close to the beginning of the week. Select items that will hold for 5 days.
  • Blanch fresh vegetables quickly for kids — easier to eat.

Sites for Tips and Recipes


Teen Lunches
Most teen palates are pretty much developed and there will be a wider variety of things they like. Protein is even more important for good concentration, energy for sports, and balancing those adolescent mood swings.

Some Teen Favorites

  • Sushi
  • Miso soup
  • Turkey sandwiches
  • Caesar salad


  • Make selections something they can grab quickly between classes.
  • Emphasize the importance of food and how it helps them in their studies, sports, and complexion.
  • Make their lunch with them. This way food does not become a power play issue, they have the opportunity to make some independent choices and it is a nice time to share together, even though they may act as though they don’t want you there.

Homemade Snacks
Snacks are the one daily item that will set us back anywhere from $3-$5 a day — that is about $500-$900 just for the nine months of the school year if they buy a snack every day. Here are some snack ideas that will fill your cravings without emptying your pockets. All of these snacks are about $1 per serving, can hold in the fridge for 2-5 days and takes about 5 minutes to prepare.

  • Your Fit Gourmet Wafflewiches (recipe)
  • Your Fit Gourmet Pita Pockets (recipe)
  • Yogurt and chopped fresh fruit
  • Chicken salad with dill and cucumber, pretzels or celery sticks for dipping
  • Eggs salad with shaved carrots and sweet pickles served on whole romaine lettuce. Hard boil the eggs on your weekly prep day; will keep in fridge for 3-4 days.

Yvonne Tally

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