Bag Lunch Ideas for Your Child

Food Suggestions

Meal Ideas

  • Choose low-fat cold cuts and meats such as turkey and chicken. Salami, pastrami, ham and bologna tend to be higher in fat.
  • Use low-fat or fat-free cheese.
  • Choose whole-grain breads or rolls for sandwiches.
  • Make a wrap using a tortilla, grilled chicken breast, shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes and low-fat cheese.
  • Add tuna, chicken or egg salad to whole-wheat pita bread and garnish with shredded lettuce, shredded carrots and sprouts.
  • Make a pasta salad with broccoli florets, shredded carrots, diced sweet peppers, cubed low-fat cheese and grilled chicken breast with low-fat or fat-free Italian dressing.
  • Spread peanut butter and sliced bananas on a whole grain bagel.
  • Make an English muffin pizza. Spread spaghetti sauce on the English muffin. Sprinkle low-fat cheese and your child's favorite veggies on the muffin.
  • Put leftover soups, stews and casseroles into a thermo-regulated container to be kept hot.

Meats and cheese should be refrigerated or kept cold in a lunch container.

Snack Ideas

  • Pretzels
  • Fresh vegetable sticks
  • Dried fruit
  • Pre-packaged, shelf-stable items such as applesauce, canned fruit or low-fat pudding
  • Animal crackers
  • Sliced apples or celery sticks with peanut butter
  • Fresh fruit such as bananas, oranges and grapes
  • Home-made trail mix made from dried fruit, nuts and dry cereal
  • Air-popped popcorn
  • Bread sticks
  • Baked chips and salsa
  • Sliced apples and low-fat cheese
  • Dry cereal

Drink Ideas

  • Water, bottled or kept in a thermos
  • Low-fat or fat-free milk, bought at school or chilled in a thermos
  • 100 percent fruit juice
  • 100 percent vegetable juice

Preparation Tips

  • Cut items into small, manageable pieces
  • Have your child help prepare the lunch
  • Let your child pick out a healthful snack

Food Safety

  • Use a thermos to keep soups, stews and casseroles warm. Wash the thermos with soap and hot water after every use.
  • Place a frozen juice box or bottled water next to cold food items.
  • Use an ice pack to keep foods cold.
  • Use an insulated lunch container to help keep temperatures stable.


Reviewed by health care specialists at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital.

This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or health care provider. We encourage you to discuss with your doctor any questions or concerns you may have.