Dr Julie Durnan

How to Build a Real Food Lunchbox Your Kids Will LOVE

By Sara Bradford
Owner of Nourish ~ Real Food, Registered Holistic Nutritionist

Coming up with creative and fun ways to fill a lunchbox is a hot topic. As a registered holistic and culinary nutritionist who also happens to be a mom – I probably get asked more often for lunchbox ideas than any other single thing. (Which is why it’s become such a passion.)

But so often we get caught up in the the ideas, so desperate to get it done quickly, make it as convenient as we can. We forget about the basics. How to keep it BALANCED and HEALTHY.

That doesn’t mean it has to be complicated. Just consider it as you are sending them off to school, for a lifetime of learning and development. How can you make that as beautiful a thing as you can.


And by fat I mean avoiding the type that is going to cause potential inflammation, and include the ones that will enhance higher learning. Fat is not only essential to their learning…it keeps them satiated throughout the day – therefore making them less likely to hit the sugary snacks. And not only that…saturated fat is the best kind of fat there is. It’s the LEAST prone to rancidity (that wrecks havoc on their little bodies) and its stability helps build brain cells, absorb wonderful minerals, and is a very important source of energy.


  • Full-Fat, Non-Homogenized, Organic Dairy
  • Soups made with lots of gelatinous bone broth
  • Baking made with real butter or coconut oil
  • Seeds (sunflower seeds or butter, sesame, hemp)
  • Super oily fish – hidden if necessary
  • Extra-virgin olive oil in dressings, dips or in pasta
  • Sesame oil on noodles

Lunch 15 Sara B Lunchbox


This is a big one. Those amino acids are the building blocks for your child’s system. AND though not considered a great source of “energy” – will help them go farther and longer, as it too helps stabilize blood sugar.


  • Lentils and other legumes (pureed into baking, in soups, or even in bread of sandwiches)
  • Grass-fed meats, such as game, beef, pork (roasts great for sandwiches, or send on its own)
  • Free-Range poultry (a full roasted chicken is PERFECT for making bone broth, soup, sandwiches and more)
  • Wild Fish – this helps also with the good fats you want them consuming
  • Whole Grains – quite high in protein, if prepared properly and digested
  • Eggs – the free-range kind – in the whole form

Sandwich Sara B lunchbox


It’s funny…so many people associate “carbs” with “starchy grains”. But they are so much more than that. Fruits, vegetables, legumes…those should make up the majority of any diet. Incorporating them in as much as possible and in any tricky way you can will only increase you kid’s energy levels, but help keep them pooping great (fibre), feel a sense of satisfaction you can only get from carbohydrates, and of course receive all the wonderful nutrients they bring.


  • Fruits of any kind – but apples and pears have fibre that keep kid lets going longer – berries are lower in sugar
  • Vegetables – raw crudites are great, but don’t forget to put them in everything (baking, soups, sauces, sandwiches)
  • Whole grains – in salads, stews, some noodles, or even in a thermos like oatmeal
  • Sourdough Breads – easiest to digest and tasty
  • Legumes are also carbohydrates

Lunch 24 Sara B Lunchbox


Don’t forget about this. It’s all well and good to have a “healthy lunchbox” – but you need to consider that 80/20 rule. There are very few adults that don’t have some kind of indulgences – why should your kids be any different. When thinking treats, consider all the above stuff, keep it low-ish in sugar if you can, and make sure it’s NOT the only thing they’re eating.


  • Healthy baking – use freshly ground grains or store flour in the freezer, throw in pureed veggies or legumes, use WHOLE eggs, saturated or healthy fats, and natural sugars (honey, maple syrup)
  • Chocolate – look for the stuff made with good fats – or make yourself
  • Crispy Treats – tortilla chips, kale chips, seaweed snacks, baked chickpeas or edamame, homemade bits n’ bites
  • Homemade Jello – yes, I’m serious – naturally sweetened gelatin sourced organically is GOOD for you


And as corny as it sounds…you inject love into what you are doing – and they can taste it. It’s the best kind of nutrition there is. And don’t hesitate to send them little notes reminding them, also. xo

About Sara Bradford

Sara B Portrait Small Sara Bradford is owner/founder of Nourish ~ Real Food and a registered holistic nutritionist. She gets asked time and time again how she maintains her lunchbox enthusiasm. But, somewhere along the line, she got blessed with a burning desire to create the most healthy, delicious, colourful lunch boxes for her kids – and decided to take her years of experience as a Holistic Nutritionist and shower you with healthy lunchbox recipes.

Sara has developed two programs that are designed JUST for the busy mama – so you get to play too. All this amazing lunchbox packing fuel can ALSO be directed into your OWN SELF. That’s right. You ALSO deserve the right fuel. If you are interested in learning more head to The Community Dump + The Real Food Unclease. The first is a soothing, wonderful 10-day real food cleanse that is seasonal, focuses on self-care, digestion, winter immunity and more. The other a 6-week uncleanse that starts with the 10 days and eases you back into the real world over 4 weeks.

What’s your favourite healthy item to pack in your child’s lunchbox? Please share in the comments section below!

Dr Julie Durnan

1 Comment

  1. A Pryor says:

    Thanks for the ideas, and especially the clear, concise reasoning behind each component. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *