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10 Best Back To School Foods

Welcome to Jessica’s Top Thursday. Each week, I will feature a new Top Trend, Top 10 or Top List. I will mention some of our favorite items, tips, ideas, recipes and more. Enjoy! To see my previous Top Thursday posts, click here.

Moms.. we know you work hard. You do everything you can to make sure your children have the best back-to-school experience that extends beyond the first day. We know you work selflessly to help your children have a great school season. This post & giveaway is for you.

But before we talk about fancy, fluffy, giveaway stuff… let’s get down to it. It’s not always easy making school lunches. Healthy school lunches that is. Below, we want to share with you the 10 Best Back To School Foods for your kiddos, brought to us by pediatrician Dr. Alan Greene and Horizon Organic.

Dr. Alan Greene says: In 2011 the USDA identified four key nutrients that are lacking in children’s diets to such an extent they have become a public health concern: calcium, vitamin D, potassium, and fiber. Besides these big four, many other nutrients are commonly under-consumed as well, including folate, magnesium, vitamins A, C, K and healthy fats such as the omega-3s.1

A new school year provides a great opportunity to teach kids how to make nutritious choices throughout the day. Whether starting the morning off with organic milk or packing school lunches with lots of fruits and veggies, making a conscious choice to focus on nutrition as kids return to the classroom can help contribute to healthy habits for the long term. Here are a few easy ideas to get you started at the grocery store.

Back-To-School Top 10 List:

1. Organic Milk: With only 1 in 10 girls and 1 in 4 boys meeting their calcium needs,2 it’s important to keep calcium-rich foods front and center in kids’ diets. Organic milk in single-serve boxes is a great choice for the lunchbox. It features vitamin D and provides potassium too (there’s as much in one single-serve organic box as in a banana). Also look for milk fortified with DHA omega-3 – an important nutrient that helps support kids’ brain health. 3 It tastes just like regular milk so kids love it in a glass or poured over whole-grain cereal.

2. Whole Grains: The new U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommend that at least half of our grains be whole grains. Choosing whole grains for lunchbox sandwiches and wraps is a smart strategy to boost fiber and other important nutrients.

3. String Cheese: Cheese is a good source of calcium and protein, and convenient for snacks and lunches. It’s an especially easy way to boost protein intake if your child isn’t a meat eater.

4. Trail Mix: A variety of dried fruits (apricots, cherries, cranberries, raisins, dates), nuts (almonds, peanuts, walnuts, pistachios)4 and cereal (look for those high in fiber and low in sugar) can combine into one hearty snack. Plus, you can make an activity out of letting your kids create their very own one-of-a-kind mix. Almonds and dates are a good source of fiber. Dried apricots are a good source of potassium.

5. Nut Butter: Peanut butter, almond butter, hazelnut butter – they’re all great for lunchtime sandwiches or on toast for an after-school snack.5

6. Hummus: This protein-packed spread comes in a wide variety of flavors and even in single-serve packs for kids on the go. Try it as a dip for veggies and whole-grain crackers, or as a spread on wraps and sandwiches instead of mayonnaise or dressing.

7. Granola Bars: If chosen with care, granola bars can be a lower-in-sugar, high-fiber alternative to cookies and candy bars. Be sure to read labels and look for bars made with whole grains and 10 grams of sugar or less.

8. Turkey Breast: Turkey breast is low in fat and high in protein, and is generally popular even with picky eaters. Go ahead and get creative with turkey for after-school snacks – think turkey and cheese roll-ups.

9. Fruit, Fruit, Fruit: Apples, cherries, bananas, oranges, grapes – fruits are an important part of a well-balanced diet. Fruits are among the top sources of fiber, potassium, and many other under-consumed nutrients. Try to vary what you offer since different fruits provide different nutrients, and choose organic when you can.

10. Veggies, Veggies, Veggies: Veggies like carrot sticks, celery, cucumbers, pea pods and cherry tomatoes are all great for lunch boxes and after-school snacks. They are the rock stars of nutrient density. Remember, the darker the veggie, the more nutritious it tends to be-and organic is best when practical. To prevent veggie boredom, think about serving them with low-fat salad dressing or hummus.

Win a “Mom’s Survival Kit”.


Did that list exhaust you? We hope not! However, thanks to Horizon Organic, we are offering 1 reader a “Mom’s Survival Kit”. This kit is complete with bubble bath, an aromatherapy candle and chocolates.

To enter, leave a comment below and let us know what your favorite school lunch item is! Have you tried any of Horizon Organic products?

As always, make sure you like Modern Day Moms on facebook and follow us on twitter. Stay up to date with the latest information!

Giveaway winner will be chosen Friday, September 23rd. Open to US only. Must be 18. See official rules.

The winner of this kit was Kendra. Congrats! We will contact you shortly.

Did you know Horizon Organic has a “Healthy Families Back to School” online community? This is where parents can connect on topics ranging from money-saving back-to-school tips to ideas for fun ways to get kids ready to head back to the classroom.

They also have an awesome “Horizon’s Toolbox for Mom” Facebook application on Horizon’s Facebook page, complete with news, offers and advice to support parents as the school year begins. Feel free to check it out!

Modern Day Moms

Modern Day Moms is an award-winning publication centered around motherhood that is real and unfiltered. Basically, we don't sugarcoat anything and aren't afraid to tell you the truth. Let's be best friends, we will make you feel more normal.




  • Jessica S

    We LOVE Horizon Organic milk!

  • Sarah Z

    I am a fan of their cheese sticks, all 3 of the kids love them and with my daughter being in 1st grade this year they still do snack time in the morning but it’s not a lot of time. I toss one of the cheese sticks in her lunch and she’s good. Plus I know it’s enough to keep hunger away but not fill her up so she can still eat her lunch!

  • Jennifer B

    My favorite school lunch Was always the fruit! Love horizon products. We drink their milk, eat their cheese & yogurt!

  • Abi

    My daughter loves her ‘sweetie’ in her lunch- Good for her.
    It’s really just fruit cut in cute shapes with a cookie cutter – Great for me!
    We love Horizon products and tote their chocolate milk boxes in our lunch boxes pretty often.
    Thank for sharing!

  • Shelly Barney

    I love granola bars and would love to win this giveaway!

  • Kristi C

    My kids love their chocolate milk!

  • Lisa M

    We like the yogurt!

  • Keri p

    We Love the single serve milks! Great for on the go!

  • Kaydee

    My 6 year old loves when I pack him a Horizon chocolate milk :)

  • Katie F.

    My son isn’t old enough for a school lunch, but my husband and I love having string cheese in our lunches!!

  • lisa

    oh good. we love to have the chocolate milk as a treat.

  • Ashley MERVAU

    My favorite part of school lunches was always the cookies in the white bags. They were always so soft :) We are fans of Horizons yogurt and string cheese!

  • Christy w.

    It’s a tie between chocolate milk, baby carrots with hummus, and a sliced apple with peanut butter and raisins. Great for lunchtime and snacks’

  • Kim Jackson

    My family loves the non-fat milk!

  • Caren Faisst

    String cheese Sticks are the best!!!

  • Stefani McCune

    mmmmm! Yogurt is our favorite. :) But it may be a tie for the girls between the chocolate milk and yogurt.

  • ashley laschon

    granola bars! my 5yo LOVES them! I make my own since 99% of the bars out there have sthing in them shes allergic to.

  • Jasmine

    Granola bars are super yummy for lunch and snacks! We haven’t tried the Horizon milks yet, but I’ll be picking some up this weekend for my son!

  • Liz Barboza

    My son loves the horizon chocolate milk boxes and has one every day with his lunch. He’s a picky eater and the only sandwich he eats is a pbj. Since he’s in a peanut free school, I do sunbutter and jelly on whole grain bread with a squeezable organic applesauce. On alternating days, he has that or cheese and wheat crackers with a yogurt. The only organic yogurt he will eat is the stonyfield squeezable ones, which I’ve never seen in stores but am able to order from the milkman!

  • megan hopkins

    We love cheese and apples!

  • Kendra

    I love the milk boxes. Thanks Horizon

  • Stephanie Lasota

    Get outta the way kids, MOMMA wants some chocolate milk!!!!I love Horizon products! I just have to make sure there is enough for me, too…:)

  • Kymm Nesheim

    My kids love Horizon chocolate and regular milk to go along with peanut butter-filled pretzel bites!

  • Lynnsy Snook

    Cheese sticks!

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