Cardiff School District

Inspiring a love of learning

Healthy packed lunch ideas
This section contains tips from the Health Council and Cardiff parents. It will be updated as new information is received. So, if you have a favorite tip, send it to the Health Council!
  • Use a Japanese-style reusable bento box. Compartments are perfect for kid-size servings and when you open it, everything is presented at once. No more "I didn't see it" explanations! 
  • If your child is not a big vegetable eater, you can sneak in a few extra vegetables whenever possible -- extra fine grated carrots in tuna or chicken salad, baby spinach instead of regular lettuce on sandwiches, pureed squash in tomato sauce are just a few ideas.
  • If whole wheat bread is tough for your child to swallow...try using one slice of whole wheat bread and one slice of white bread and then cut the sandwich into quarters. Arrange in a checker board design with two white and two brown squares showing.
  • Have your child take a different trail everyday to school...trail mix that is. Buy a variety of "healthy" separate snacks such as whole-wheat pretzels, granola, dried cranberries, etc. and have your child pick and choose to mix up his/her own combination each night before school.
  • They won't give up the traditional juice boxes...try making your own juice-and-water blend in your own reusable bottle for a thirst-quenching drink in more environmentally sound packaging.
  • Sandwiches on a burger bun are more fun to eat.
  • Sandwiches cut in fun shapes or like “tea” sandwiches.
  • Cream cheese on a mini wheat bagel.
  • Make your own  “Lunchables” using small re-usable containers.
  • Make your own taco/burrito – a few tortilla chips or a small tortilla, some leftover ground beef, cut-up hamburger or shredded chicken, with some shredded cheese, avocado, cut-up tomatoes, sliced lettuce, etc.
  • Make your own pizza – sandwich thins or mini pitas, a little leftover pasta sauce, shredded cheese, some pineapple, veggies, mini (or regular) pepperoni, etc.
  • Make your own cracker sandwiches – a few Ritz or other crackers, use a cookie cutter through a pile of turkey/ham/lunch meat, a few slices of cheese (also can be cut) or a Mini Baby Bell cheese round.
  • Chicken strips (cut leftovers) with teriyaki dip.
  • Cream cheese roll – a tortilla with cream cheese spread – add shredded carrots, some lunch meat, roll & cut in half or in 1” pieces like sushi!
  • “Sushi” – use full sheets or snack-size sheets with rice, cream cheese, avo, carrots, cucumber, tomato, chicken, turkey, etc., roll up & cut into sushi-sized bites with a small container of soy sauce on the side.
  • Tuna or cottage cheese stuffed tomatoes (romas work great).
  • Add sprinkles to cottage cheese for an extra-fun touch.
  • Left over pasta (especially tortellini) with an oil-based dressing (or try pesto!) makes a great pasta salad with some bell peppers, grape tomatoes, chunks of lunch meat or left-over chicken.