How to Pack a Balanced School Lunch

Packing a school lunch? Follow these guidelines to make it balanced.

It is that time of the year that parents dread the most: going back to the “packing school lunch” routine!

To help kids get through the school day, aim for a balanced lunch that includes foods from at least 3 of the 4 food groups:

Vegetables & Fruit

This group includes vegetables and fruit that are fresh, frozen, canned, cooked, dried or made into 100% Juice.

Grain Products

This group includes foods made from grains such as wheat, oats and barley.

Milk & Alternatives

This group includes foods made from milk, with the exception of fortified soy beverage. Fortified soy beverage is an alternative made from soybeans for those who do not drink milk.

Meat & Alternatives

This group includes foods from both animals (such as meat, fish, poutry, eggs) and plants (such as beans, nuts, seeds and tofu).

Examples of foods from each food group

Use this (and add to it) to help you prepare lunches with foods from each food group.

Vegetables & Fruit cucumber, tomato, carrot, celery, mixed greens, corn, apple, pear, banana, raisins, 100% juice
Grain Products bread, bagel, bannock, bun, chapati, naan, pita, tortilla, cereals (hot or cold), pasta, rice, quinoa, pancake, waffle
Milk & Alternatives milk, chocolate milk, plain or flavoured yogurt, cheese (sliced, grated, sticks), cottage cheese, pudding made with milk, soup made with milk, fortified soy beverage
Meat & Alternatives  tuna, beans, lentils, chicken, meat, tofu, eggs, peanut or other nut butter, nuts, seeds, unfortified soy beverage

 Want to involve your kids?

  1. Make with them a list of foods that they like under each food group to use as a reference when planning for school lunches.
  2. Plan what you will pack for each day on weekends and check your fridge and pantry.
  3. If you are missing any item, add it to your grocery list and go shopping with the kids.
  4. Ask kids to help you every night getting their lunches ready.
Ready to pack school lunches? Check these trusted and tried tips from a savvy mom.
By Rola Zahr, MPH, RD

About BC Dairy

BC Dairy is a not-for-profit organization representing BC’s dairy farmers.