Super Fast & Healthy Lunch Options for Back to School!

As someone who ate a tuna sandwich for at least 50% of my school lunches from grades 3 to 12, trust me when I say that a little variety goes a long way!

As a nutrition and fitness coach, I’m interested in how to move beyond typical bread-centred packed lunches to give kids a more nutritious mid-day meal.

I also want to offer some advice for simplifying the lunchtime process for the whole family. Taking your lunch to work can save time, money, and is generally the healthier option. Yet, I work with many parents who prepare one meal for the kids and a separate one for themselves. Instead, why not get everyone on the same page and meal prep for the household once?

You can even get your kids involved by having them help out and getting them to weigh-in on the food options for the week.

As we get back into the school lunch (and work lunch) packing zone, let’s pause a moment before we reach for the bagels and sandwich fillings to consider these great ideas instead:

Taco Salad

I mean, really… who doesn’t like tacos? Ditch the tortilla wraps and simply scoop your favourite taco fillings onto a pile a shredded lettuce. Dee-lish!

Soup or Chili

Soups and chilies are tasty way to pack in lots of nutrition into one meal – especially in fall or winter! Remember to pack it in a thermos to retain the heat. You can grab some of my favourite soup recipes here, or buy a huge variety of really healthy pre-made options at the Carrot.

Rotisserie Chicken

It’s so quick & easy because you can pick-up a beautiful, organic, cooked chicken whenever you visit the store. Throw a ¼ chicken, a few small baked potatoes (these can easily be done in advance), a little salad into a reusable container, toss it in your backpack with a fork and you’re laughing! For salad inspiration, check one of my favourite recipes here.

No matter what you pack, try to limit the amount of processed foods, and try to include some vegetable matter into lunch on a daily basis. I know it’s hard if your kids are picky about veggies, but try to find at least one or two colourful options that you can throw into the rotation.

And, just because it’s worth saying twice… plan ahead and batch cook! You’ll save time, money, have less stress, and will have healthy meals on hand for you and your kids.

P.S. For 12 MORE healthy on-the-go lunch ideas, check out this post!


Peter Roberts is a sought after nutrition consultant and strength and conditioning coach in Toronto. He’s been the head coach at Quantum CrossFit since 2010 (East York’s most highly rated gym) and consulted with Canada Basketball and Rugby League Canada, among others. He provides free fitness and nutrition resources on his site peterrobertscoaching.com to teach people how to get fitter and feel great without it being a struggle.