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Back to School: Think Inside the Box

Getting ready for the school year comes with a few annual rituals, like gathering school supplies, freeing the closet of outgrown clothes and shoes, and perhaps acquiring a fresh new lunch box. The question is, what to fill that lunch box with that will keep your child excited for lunchtime? Here are a few tried and true ideas.

Lunch Box Essentials

  • Thermos (for hot meals)
  • Water bottle
  • Reusable containers/utensils

Hot Meals

  • Soups: protein, grains and veggies in one place. Chicken noodle soup, lentil soup, or chili.
  • Fried rice: use up leftover rice and toss in a few veggies from the garden!
  • Pasta variations: spaghetti, lasagna, ravioli and tortellini can make a satisfying lunch. Add a few leaves of kale, chard or fresh herbs to add flavor.

Beyond the PB&J Sandwich

  • Tuna, salmon or egg salad on a croissant or pita
  • Turkey wraps using spreads like artichoke dip, hummus or guacamole
  • Whole grain bagel with cream cheese and smoked salmon. Throw in a splash of color with avocado slices or a crisp leaf of lettuce.

Rotate the Menu

Keep it exciting by rotating the menu. Throughout the week, try various types of grains (pasta, rice, pita) and switch up the protein. Find veggies that your child will eat – carrot sticks, veggies with ranch or mix them into the main dish.

Friday Favorites

Kids love when you pack something special on Fridays so they can look forward to the surprise. Try it or your own creative ideas!

Favorite Fried Rice

Makes 4-6 servings


  • 3-4 tablespoons oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup carrot, chopped
  • 1/2 cup celery, chopped
  • 2 cups cooked rice
  • 1/2 cup frozen or fresh peas
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon white or black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce


  • Cook rice or get day old rice and put it aside
  • Heat 1 tablespoon oil in small fry pan and scramble eggs, set aside
  • Heat 2-3 tablespoons of canola oil in wok or pan over medium high heat and sauté onions until translucent
  • Add carrots and celery and sauté until soft, about 3 minutes
  • Add the rice to the middle of the pan and break apart clumps to coat the rice with oil
  • Add the eggs and peas to the wok, and stir in salt and pepper. Place the lid on the wok and let it steam for about 3 minutes
  • Remove lid and add soy sauce
  • Taste and adjust the flavor with salt