Healthy Living Blog

Back to School: Lunches Easy as 1, 2, 3

Tina Miller, MS RD Meijer Dietitian and Healthy Living Advisor. 

For more information, visit


                Free Back to School Event:  Stop in your local Meijer on Saturday, August 11 from 11am to 2pm to get great back to school ideas.  Pick up a free copy of our Back to School recipe book and get free samples of tasty lunch foods, pick up your free sample of kid’s gummy vitamins and probiotic supplements, and get valuable coupons and back to school give aways.  Find everything you need to get your family ready for back to school.

Tips for Lunches They’ll Love!

1. Make it healthy

• Include 3 to 4 of the 5 core food groups in their lunch (low fat dairy, protein, fruits, vegetables and whole grains).

• Make snack bags of vegetable sticks, and cubed fruits so they are ready to grab and throw into lunch boxes.

• Select juice boxes that are 100% juice.

• Send a small container of lite fruit cocktail to mix with a carton of vanilla yogurt.

• Try some new sandwich ideas: wrap lean lunch meat, shredded cheese, lettuce and tomato in a whole grain tortilla that’s been spread with low fat vegetable cream cheese. Use whole grain pita bread or English muffins stuffed with tuna or chicken salad. Add banana slices, raisins, sliced strawberries or peach slices to a peanut butter sandwich.

• Peel a cucumber, slice in half lengthwise, hollow out the center and fill with light cheese spread or meat salad.

• Other easy ideas: pack leftover chicken or pizza, hard boiled eggs and whole grain crackers, pasta salad with vegetables and shredded cheese, pita bread triangles and baby carrots with a hummus dip, cheese cubes, crackers and grapes or tortilla chips with bean/cheese dip.

• Replace the chips and candy with healthier alternatives: trail mix, popcorn, mini fruit muffins, string cheese, whole grain graham crackers, multi grain pretzels, dried fruits, vegetable sticks and yogurt ranch dressing, grape tomatoes, baby carrots and pepper strips, dry cereal mixed with nuts and dried fruit, whole grain granola bars.

2. Make it safe

• Always prepare lunches with clean hands and on a clean surface.

• Keep cold foods cold with freezer gel packs, and/or insulated lunch boxes; pre-chill foods; use frozen juice boxes to keep food cold (they will thaw by mealtime so keep in a Ziploc bag); keep hot foods in a thermos.

• Pack hand wipes for quick clean up.

3. Make it fun

• Have your children help you prepare their lunch – they are more likely to eat it.

• Cut sandwiches into fun shapes (try using a cookie cutter).

• Write your child a note on the peel of a banana by scoring the skin with a toothpick.

• Buy cheese in different shapes – sun and moon, cubes, etc.

• Assemble fruits chunks on a straw “skewer”. Serve with yogurt dip.

• Use fun shaped pasta for pasta salads.

• Pack ingredients so kids can assemble their own lunch – tacos, mini cheese/meat/cracker sandwiches, etc.

• Make your own trail mix at home using your child’s favorite cereal, raisins, nuts, and mini-pretzels. Toss in a few fruit gummies as a surprise.

• Add a special treat – a note, small game, riddle, cartoon, etc.

Check out the Meijer back-to-school video series for tips and recipes at


Lunch Recipes

Recipes adapted from:, TryFoods, International

Monterey Chicken Wrap

Instructions (per 8-inch wrap):

1 Meijer whole wheat tortilla (8 inch)

1 tbsp.  Kraft Lite Ranch Dressing

1 lettuce leaf

2 ounces (2 slices) Meijer Reduced Sodium Deli Chicken Breast

1 Kraft Big Slice Sharp Cheddar Cheese Slice

2 thin tomato slices

2 thin avocado slices or 2 Tbsp. prepared guacamole


1. Spread tortilla with dressing.

2. Cover with remaining ingredients.

3. Fold up bottom edge of tortilla, and then roll up.

Nutrition Information (per serving):  Calories 360, Fat 18g, Cholesterol 50mg, Sodium 1030mg, Carbohydrates 30g, Fiber 3g 12%, Protein 19g.

Mini Clubs

Serves 6 (2 mini clubs per serving)


1 each Tomato, chopped

4 slices Oscar Mayer Center Cut Bacon, cooked, crumbled

1/4 cup Miracle Whip Light Dressing

1 pkg. whole wheat Dinner Rolls (12 oz., 12 Rolls), split

3 each Kraft Deli Fresh Sharp Cheddar Cheese Slices, each cut into 4 pieces

1/2 lb. Meijer reduced sodium Deli Turkey Breast, sliced thin

6 each Lettuce Leaves, torn in half


1. COMBINE tomatoes, bacon and dressing.

2. FILL rolls with cheese, turkey, and lettuce and tomato mixture.

Nutrition Information (per 2 mini’s serving): Calories 300, Fat 12g, Cholesterol 35mg, Sodium 610mg, Carbohydrates 32g, Fiber 2g, Protein 16g

Healthy Living Bagel Sandwiches

Serves 4


4 Meijer Bagels (multi-grain or whole wheat)

8 tsp.  Honey Dijon Salad Dressing

24 slices Meijer cooked Canadian Bacon

48 slices thin-sliced pieces Meijer Turkey Lunchmeat

4 leaves Organic Romaine Lettuce

2 small tomatoes cut into 8 slices


1. Split 4 Meijer Bagels and toast.

2. Spread 1 tsp. dressing on each bagel half.

3. Top each bagel half with 3 slices of Meijer cooked Canadian Bacon, 6 thin-sliced pieces of Meijer Turkey Lunchmeat, 1 piece of Organic Romaine Lettuce, and 1 slice of Meijer Tomato.

4. Serve with: Organic Celery Stalks and Meijer Naturals Creamy Peanut Butter, Sliced Michigan Apples- NuVal score 96, Calories: 590, Total fat: 23 g, Carbohydrate: 67 g, Fiber: 10 g

Cucumber Asian slaw

Serves 4-6

This slaw makes a great side or as a topping to your favorite sandwich or wrap.


1 seedless cucumber, shredded, drained

1 cup shredded carrots

1/2 cup diced red bell pepper

1/4 cup chopped green onion

3 tbsp. Reduced Fat Asian-sesame salad dressing

1/8 tsp. McCormick crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

1/4 cup roasted salted cashews (optional)


  1. In a medium bowl combine cucumber, carrots, bell pepper, onion, salad dressing and red pepper flakes; toss.
  2. Chill until serving time, if desired. Add cashews just before serving; toss.

Nutrition Information (per serving):  Calories 67, Fat 4g, Sodium 123mg, Carbohydrates 7g, Fiber 1g, Protein 2g

Cucumber Boats

2 Mini cucumbers, halved, hallowed to remove seeds

1 Cup Meijer Deli prepared chicken or tuna salad (or use recipe below)


Divide chicken or tuna salad evenly to fill each cucumber half.

Chicken Salad

2 cup diced cooked chicken

1 cup seedless red grapes, halved

1 cup diced celery

1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans (optional)

1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions

1 tsp.  Meijer Dijon mustard

1/2 cup Hidden Valley Reduced Fat Ranch Dressing


  1. Combine chicken, grapes, celery, pecans and green onion in a medium bowl.
  2. Stir mustard into dressing; toss with salad. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours.