Healthy Swaps: School Lunches

Packing a healthy lunch that your kids will actually eat can be tricky. We took a look at some less-than-healthy school lunch staples and gave them an upgrade. Tuck these better (but still yummy) options into your little one’s lunchbox.
FNM-OatmealCookie02-002.tif

FNM-OatmealCookie02-002.tif

Food stylist: Stephana Bottom

©Hearst Communications Inc., 2010

Hearst Communications Inc., 2010

We're celebrating Back To School week on Healthy Eats, and we know that packing a healthy noon meal that your kids will actually eat can be tricky. We took a look at some less-than-healthy school lunch staples and gave them an upgrade. Tuck these better (but still yummy) options into your little one’s lunchbox.

Instead of: Bologna and mayo on white bread
Choose: Turkey and cheese on wheat bread

The Payoff: Less fat, more protein and calcium from cheese, and extra fiber from whole grain bread – a lunchtime trifecta!

Instead of: Pudding cups
Choose: Greek yogurt with a swirl of honey or jam

T he Payoff: No preservatives, less sugar and a calcium and protein boost

Instead of: Fruit snacks

The Payoff: More real fruit and no artificial colors or flavors

Instead of: Fried chicken nuggets
The Payoff: Less fat and grease and more protein
I nstead of: Snack Cakes and cupcakes

The Payoff: Cookies are portioned controlled (one is all you need), fiber from oats and natural sweetness from raisins

TELL US: What lunchbox upgrades do you make?

Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition. See Dana's full bio »

You Might Also Like:

Keep Reading

Next Up

Healthy Swaps: Bag Lunches

Packing up for our Brown Bag Challenge? Use these swaps to make your lunch healthy and delicious.

Robin's Healthy Take: School Lunches

Robin Miller's ideas for healthy back-to-school lunches for kids.

Swap School

Here are some easy ingredient substitutions for when you suddenly find yourself out of eggs, mayo and other kitchen staples.

Healthy Swaps: Summer Cocktails

There’s nothing wrong with sipping on a cocktail or two, just don't overdo it. Make smart choices for those alcoholic drinks – try our healthy swaps.

Healthy Swaps: Side Dishes

Side dishes are supposed to be an accompaniment, but many favorites can jam in more calories than you want for an entire meal. Lighten up your plate with these healthy (but still delicious) substitutions.

Healthy Swaps: Salads

Salads made our list of 9 Healthy Foods to Skip because they can be deceptively high in calories, especially if you pile on the toppings and dressing. But not all salads are calorie nightmares and it’s ok to indulge in some --not all -- of your favorite higher calorie ingredients. Use our tips to build a better salad.

Healthy Swaps: Halloween Treats

You can probably figure out that candy isn’t the healthiest option, but this time of year it’s pretty much unavoidable. Explore the options below for improved candy picks.

Healthy Swaps: Thanksgiving Fare

Shopping for the right Thanksgiving ingredients can make all the difference. Simple changes can cut down on calories, sugar, fat, preservatives and your overall health without compromising flavor. As you hit the market to pick up your Thanksgiving fare, think about making these swaps.

Healthy Swaps: Smoothies

Sse these tips to swap empty-calorie smoothie components with smarter, high-energy ingredients for a leaner, meaner frozen treat.

Healthy Swaps: Summer Picnics

Is your calendar full of picnics and barbecues? Keep your body beach-ready by making these healthy swaps.

On TV

Food Network Apps

In the Kitchen

Get over 70,000 FN recipes on all your mobile devices.

Facebook Messenger

Ask our bot for recipes, meal ideas and daily food trivia.

Amazon Echo

Just say "Alexa, enable Food Network skill" to get started.