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Brain-Boosting Lunch & Snack Solutions

Shari's back-to-school nutrition guide!

Shopping for the new school year can be fun and exciting! While backpacks, school supplies and clothes may be on the top of your list, it’s also a great time to stock your kitchen with nutrient-rich foods to help kids stay healthy and perform at their best. 

Our back-to-school food shopping list is parent-approved, but kid-friendly and you’ll find that Michigan Apples top the list! They provide many of the key nutrients missing from children’s diets – fiber, complex carbohydrates, potassium and vitamin C. They also add flavor and versatility to meals and snacks which make them a perfect addition to lunch boxes and quick afterschool recipes.


Back-to-school food shopping list:

Fruits & Vegetables:

o Michigan Apples

o Clementines

o Bananas

o Berries

o Baby carrots and cucumbers

o Grape tomatoes

o Sugar snap peas

o Peppers

o Fruit cups (no sugar added)

o Raisins

o Grapes


Whole Grains:

o Bread, wraps, pita 

o Crackers

o Pasta

o Cereal and granola

o Tortilla chips

o Mini bagels



o Cheese (slices, cubes, string, shredded)

o Low fat milk

o Yogurt

o Cottage cheese



o Lean meats

o Beans/Nuts

o Nut butters

o Hummus

o Eggs



o Salsa

o Yogurt ranch dressing



Build a Better Lunch Box:

Ingredients from our healthy shopping list can be easily combined to help you build a better lunch box for your child. Here are some ideas to get you started:


PB&J A New Way

• Peanut butter and jam on a whole wheat mini bagel

• Sugar snap peas with yogurt ranch dressing

• Fresh Michigan apple

• Yogurt cup


It’s a Wrap

• Turkey hummus wrap (spread hummus on a whole grain wrap; add slices of turkey, cucumber and lettuce)

• Low fat milk

• Red pepper strips

• Natural cinnamon applesauce


Finger Food

• Apple zucchini mini muffins (recipe below)

• 2 String cheese

• Baby carrots with yogurt ranch dressing

• Fresh grapes


Apple Zucchini Mini Muffins – Bake a batch on the weekend so they’re ready to pack into lunches! 

Makes 8 servings (3 mini muffins each).

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 tsp. baking soda

½ tsp. ground cinnamon

¼ tsp. salt

3 tbsp. plain Greek yogurt

½ cup honey

1 large egg

1 tsp. vanilla

1 cup grated zucchini

½ cup grated Michigan apple


1. Preheat oven to 350º F.

2. Mix flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in bowl.

3. Mix yogurt, honey, egg and vanilla in separate bowl.

4. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix until just incorporated. Fold in zucchini and apple.

5. Spray mini muffin tin with cooking spray and fill ¾ full. Bake for 15 minutes, or until toothpick is inserted and comes out clean. Remove and let cool.


Recipe Source: produceforkids.com



Sensible Snack Assembly:

Children get approximately 25% of their calories from snacks, so make sure they are choosing foods that can help fill nutrient gaps. Whole grains, protein, low fat dairy and fruit/veggie choices can be combined to provide an energy boost for homework and afterschool activities. 

Michigan Apples are a perfect addition to snack time. Try our applelicious and super nutritious snack ideas!


• Vanilla Yogurt + Chopped Apple + Whole Grain Cinnamon Cereal


• 2 Oat Raisin Applesauce Cookies + Low Fat Milk


• Whole Grain Crackers + Natural Applesauce + 2% Cheddar Cheese Cubes


• Apple Slices + Nut Butter + Chocolate Chip Granola


• Whole Grain Tortilla Chips + Apple Salsa + String Cheese


Meet the Author

Shari Steinbach

Shari Steinbach, MS RDN
Shari Steinbach & Associates, LLC

For the past 26 years, Shari has worked as a dietitian in the grocery industry for two major retailers in the Midwest. In her retail roles, Shari has managed consumer health communication, health influencer partnerships, nutrition programs, and solution-selling strategies.

Shari has served as a nutrition expert and corporate spokesperson, providing food and nutrition advice through monthly television spots on ABC, NBC and FOX affiliates and local radio segments. She has also conducted numerous educational presentations to community groups and professional organizations throughout the country. Her timely nutrition and food product information and strategic social media messages have reached millions of consumers.