I always admired those insanely organized mothers who packed school lunches the night before. You know who I’m talking about—those moms who include creative love notes they’ve created with colored markers and stickers.

I’m one of those moms who rolls over at 6:30 a.m. and prays there is enough bread left in the package for one more sandwich. That should give you a fair idea of what my kids are eating at lunch time.

This school year is going to be different. My kids still won’t be getting any love notes, but at least their lunches will be filled with healthy fixings. My secret weapon is this handy-dandy mix-and-match lunch planner. Pick one item from each food group, as recommended by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, pack and go! So easy even a kid can do it…hey, that’s an even better idea. That way I get to sleep until at least 6:35 a.m.!

Fruits

Vegetables

Protein

Whole Grains

Dairy

Apple slices

Orange wedges

Banana

Strawberries

Blueberries

Grapes

Kiwi slices

Pear slices

Raisins

Melon chunks

Canned fruit

Carrot sticks

Celery sticks

Broccoli florets

Cucumber slices

Lettuce leaves

Cherry tomatoes

Bell pepper slices

Cauliflower florets

Mushrooms

Green beans

Chicken breast

Turkey

Tuna

Beans

Tofu

Boiled eggs

Nut butter

Veggie burger

Hummus

Nuts & Seeds

Shrimp

Brown rice

Popcorn

Oatmeal

Quinoa

Bread*

Crackers*

Pasta*

Tortilla*

Cereal

Sandwich rolls*

Pita bread

Pretzels

*Whole wheat or whole grain

String cheese

Low-fat milk

Yogurt

Soy milk

Pudding

Cheese slices

Cottage cheese

Ricotta cheese

 Still not sure what to pack? Here’s a week’s worth of lunches to get you started.

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Sliced boiled eggs stacked on whole wheat crackers

Cherry tomatoes

Strawberries topped with vanilla yogurt

Cold Rice & Chicken Salad (brown rice mixed with diced chicken breast, celery, bell peppers, carrots and raisins

Orange slices

Low-fat pudding

Sliced apples and celery sticks dipped in peanut butter

Pretzels

String Cheese

Veggie Wrap (whole wheat tortilla smeared with hummus, layered with mixed veggies and rolled up)

Diced banana mixed with cottage cheese, drizzled with chocolate sauce

Lettuce Wraps (deli turkey, cheese slice and diced veggies rolled up in lettuce leaf)

Trail Mix (whole grain cereal, dried fruit, peanuts)

Grapes

What your favorite healthy lunch?