• By Julie Stefanski
  • In Uncategorized
  • September 8, 2020

Smart Tips and Tricks for Back to School Lunch

By: Lisa James, MS, RDN

It’s the time of year when many parents wish their moniker was Lunch Lady
or Executive Chef! Why is it often so difficult to please a child’s palate,
while not serving them ultra-processed foods packed with sugar, salt and
other unwanted ingredients? Here are few suggestions that will hopefully
ease your family’s lunch time routine this school year.


Your child is more likely to enjoy their lunch if involved in the process.
Children learn by doing. Children learn to like new foods by choosing on
their own whether or not to eat a given food. As a parent, it is your job to
provide them with structure and choices. It is your child’s job to decide
whether or not they eat a food item and how much or little they eat. 1

Food Range Diary

You will be surprised how many different foods your child eats when you
write it down on paper. Create a Food Range Diary with your child by
documenting in columns all the proteins, grains/starches and fruits and
vegetables that he or she has had at least two to three bites of for a meal
or snack. When making lunch, make sure to incorporate at least one item
from each of the three columns in order to create a balanced meal.


Eating is an extremely sensory rich process! Children not only chose foods
for how they taste, but also for how they smell, appear, and even sound
when you cut, for example, a piece of celery. Is it crunchy or mushy?
Make foods look appealing by presenting them in different shapes or
containers. Lunch does not have to be a traditional sandwich with a side of
chips. Use a bento box filled with variety!

Hydrate with Water

Make sure your child has their own reusable water bottle. Water helps your
child to digest their nutrients and restore fluids lost through breathing and
sweating. Water is free of additives and sugar that is found in other
unnecessary beverages.

Meal Prep

Keep it simple. Meal prep does not have to be a complex process. It can
be as simple as making extra boiled eggs on the weekend, that you plan to
add to meals during the week. Always have big bowls of chopped fruit and
vegetables on hand so family members can grab and go!

Lisa James founded Lisa James Nutrition in January 2017 to build on her decades of
experience in the health and wellness industry.   Her son’s diagnosis of a rare food allergy known as FPIES, or food protein induced enterocolitis syndrome, initially prompted her to specialize in pediatrics.  In the earlier part of her career she was an award-winning health journalist, and healthcare public relations executive.

1. Ellyn Satter’s Division of Responsibility in Feeding. https://www.ellynsatterinstitute.org/wp-
2. Food Range Diary.