Aug. 25. 2016
Written By:
McKel (Hill) Kooienga
McKel Hill Kooienga, MS, RDN, LDN

McKel Hill Kooienga, MS, RDN, LDN

Founder of Nutrition Stripped and the Mindful Nutrition Method™

Now that it’s August and the school year is almost (or maybe already is!) back in full swing, I get a lot of questions about how to pack a healthy lunch that will keep you fueled and feeling full. A well-packed lunch will include a protein, carbohydrate, healthy fat, and vegetable. In today’s post I’m sharing a go-to guide for how to make a healthy back to school lunch with recipe ideas from the Nutrition Stripped blog. Keep reading for my advice on how to stay full and focused once school and work are back in full swing!


1 protein – beans, chickpeas, tempeh, grilled chicken, hard-boiled or baked eggs, wild caught fish, etc. Try: Chickpea Meatballs with Spaghetti Squash, Blissed Out Black Bean Burger, Baked Eggs with Garlic Kale and Sun-dried Tomatoes,  Sticky Fig BBQ Tempeh, Black Bean Quinoa Taco Lettuce Wraps, The Best Lentil Sloppy Joes


1-2 carbohydrates – sweet potatoes, quinoa, wild rice, whole grain pasta, plantains, fruits, corn, peas, sprouted bread, etc. Try: Summer Corn Succotash, Sweet Potato Fries with Turmeric Tahini Dip, Curry Quinoa Salad, Caribbean Plantain and Black Bean Boats, Grain Free Walnut Bread, Fingerling Potato and Dill Toss


Healthy fats – avocados, nuts, seeds, hemp seeds, homemade salad dressings, etc. Try: Lemon Lime Guacamole, The Best Avocado Boats, Three Ways, Crunchy Chocolate Seed Bark, Chewy Superfood Hemp Bars, Energy Almond Butter Balls


Vegetables – your favorites either raw, steamed, or roasted. Try: Massaged Kale Salad, Rainbow Vegetable Slaw, Kale Hemp Tabbouleh, Crunchy Cucumber Tomato Salad, Cauliflower Steaks


Water, herbal tea, or 3-4oz. diluted 100% juice with water.

p.s. Use this as a reference for portions sizes for children and adults!

Don’t forget snacks!

Most of us need a boost in the afternoon and many schools have a dedicated snack time in the calendar to give kids the chance to refuel. Things to keep in mind when packing snacks is how long will it stay fresh, how long will it give me energy for, and will that energy kick in quick? Here my top 10 favorite snacks or items to bring with me while I’m out and about, exercising or staying active outdoors:

  1. Fresh green juice, store in a bottle that keeps it chilled for a couple hours if not more
  2. Homemade trail mix
  3. Fresh fruit
  4. Dried fruit
  5. Raw veggie sticks (cucumbers, carrots, bell peppers, celery, jicama) with homemade hummus
  6. Homemade nut butters and gluten free crackers
  7. Coconut water
  8. Chlorella water (spirulina, chlorella, and lemon juice)
  9. Chewy Superfood Hemp Protein Bars
  10.  Energy bliss balls or truffles. Try the Almond Coconut Date Globes, Spirulina Energy Globes, or Raw Chocolate Malt Brownies 

Stay full and focused

Is this a helpful guide for making back to school lunches and are the recipes helpful for getting your creative juices flowing? Let me know what you think in the comments! I hope this guide will keep you and your kids focused and on track in order to feel amazing and perform at your best!

xx McKel

p.s. Want even more delicious, simple, and healthy recipe ideas? Get the NS Cookbook with over 100 whole food recipes made deliciously simple!