The kids are officially back to school! A healthy lunch gives your child the energy to power through a long school day, but for many parents, packing a lunch is one more chore added to an already long list of responsibilities. Kids can be picky, and coming up with lunch options week after week without falling into an unhealthy rut can be difficult.

Out of ideas? Feeling frustrated? Don’t despair. Packing healthy lunches is about to get much easier.

myplate_greenWith Christiana Care’s Healthy Lunchbox Cheat Sheet, packing a healthy, balanced lunch for the kids might just become the easiest part of getting out the door on school mornings. Lunchbox ideas are divided into the five USDA-recommended food groups, allowing you to easily mix and match with foods your child loves.

Consider going through the list with your child to discuss what options they prefer. See something on the list that is unfamiliar? Try it together! If you’re lucky, you’ll both discover a favorite new treat.

Print and keep a copy of the cheat sheet in your kitchen to help with meal planning.

Whole-wheat chicken quesadilla with Greek yogurt for dipping, kidney beans, kiwi and seedless grapes, unsalted pumpkin seeds, corn on the cob.

Healthy Lunchbox Cheat Sheet

Pick one from each category for a well-balanced lunch.

Fruit
Strawberries Grapes
Pineapple Peaches
Plums Nectarines
Mangoes Blackberries
Apples Apricots
Watermelon Pears
Raspberries Papaya
Oranges Persimmon
Pomegranate Figs
Cantaloupe Blueberries
Kiwi Bananas
Cherries
Vegetables
Cherry tomatoes Sweet bell pepper slices
Mushrooms Broccoli
Sugar snap peas Green beans (cooked or raw)
Cauliflower Butternut squash cubes, cooked
Carrot sticks Corn (kernels or a small cob, cooked)
Celery sticks Peas
Spinach Kale
Sweet potato (cooked) Acorn squash (cooked)
Edamame Avocado
Beets Cucumbers
Lentils Beans (chickpeas, black, pinto, kidney, white, lima)
Cucumber and carrot sticks, raspberries and mango, single-serving cheese, hummus, red bell pepper slices and whole-wheat pita.
Grains
Whole wheat bread Whole wheat pita
Whole wheat wraps Quinoa
Brown rice Whole wheat pasta
Whole wheat tortillas Popcorn
Whole wheat rolls Whole-wheat crackers
Whole wheat pretzels Whole-wheat English muffins
Whole wheat cereals Whole-wheat pita chips, baked
Whole wheat waffles Whole-wheat bagels
Oatmeal
Protein Foods
Hard-boiled egg Turkey burger
Rotisserie chicken chunks Lean/low sodium deli meats
Sardines (on their own or mixed with low-fat cream cheese for a sandwich spread) Tuna salad
Salmon salad Chicken salad
Egg salad Hummus
Peanut butter Almond butter
Nuts, unsalted (walnuts, almonds, peanuts, pistachios, cashews, pecans) Pumpkin seeds, unsalted
Sunflower seeds, unsalted Tofu cubes
Chicken quesadilla Lentils
Beans (chickpeas, black, pinto, kidney, white, lima)
Dairy
Low-fat milk Low-fat Greek yogurt
Reduced-fat string cheese Single-serving cheeses
Low-fat yogurt Cheese slices or cubes
Kefir smoothies Cottage cheese
Cream cheese Greek yogurt based dips (delicious served with fresh vegetables)
Hard-boiled egg, strawberries and blueberries, whole-wheat English muffin pizza, dried plum (prune), sugar snap peas.

Download the cheat sheet

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