Packing a Healthy Lunch: How to Make it Nutritious

Start your day with a healthy breakfast
- If your kids skip on breakfast they are prone to consume more and burn less calories throughout the day due to hunger. In addition, studies have shown that kids who eat breakfast daily pay more attention in class and are more successful in school.

Think small
- Pay attention at what the kids are eating and provide the right selections when it comes to meal portions. Portions should be given according to their age and activity level.

Keep them on schedule
- Keep in mind that kids have small stomachs and should be served snacks in between meals. Add a snack to their lunch box every day, especially if they participate in extracurricular activities.

Provide variety of foods in their lunch boxes

- It is the parent’s responsibility to provide a variety of healthy meals.
- Include fruits and vegetables with each meal.
- In addition include milk and/or low-fat dairy products, beans, lean meats, whole-grain breads and cereals and every now and then surprise them with a treat.

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Plan your weekly lunches together

- Planning your meals is a great tool for making sure they pack favorites, but to include foods with high nutrient value.

For the family on the go, when there is no time to have breakfast or lunch at home, below is a sample of how to get a balance meal even when you are eating at a fast food restaurant.  The following meal combinations of 600 calories or less are available at McDonald’s restaurants:

Breakfast Options:

1. Egg McMuffin (300)
Apple Dippers (35)
1% Low Fat White Milk Jug (100)
Calories: 435

2. Fruit & Maple Oatmeal (260)
Mango Pineapple Smoothie without brown sugar (210)
Calories: 470


1. Fruit & Walnut Salad (210)
2. Fruit ‘n Yogurt Parfait with granola (160)
3. Sausage Biscuit (430)

Lunch Options:

1. Asian Salad with Grilled Chicken and 1 packet of Newman’s Own Low Fat Sesame Ginger Dressing (360)
Apple Dippers with Low Fat Caramel Dip (105)
Dasani  Water (0)
Calories: 465

2. Premium Grilled Chicken Classic Sandwich on bakery style bun (350)
Apple Dippers with Low Fat Caramel Dip (105)
Dasani Water (0)
Calories: 455

3. 6 piece Chicken McNuggets (280)
Small French Fries (230)
Dasani Water (0)
Calories: 510

Sylvia Meléndez Klinger, a registered dietitian and certified personal trainer, is founder of Hispanic Food Communications, a food communications and culinary consulting company based in Hinsdale, Ill. She is Hispanic and uses her in-depth culinary and cultural expertise to introduce new strategies for wellness to an increasingly health-conscious Hispanic population. For more on her, go to

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