Back to School: Brain Food on the Mind

Whether your child is in 1st grade or you yourself are taking classes, eating well is an important part of performing well in school and feeling great during the long days away from home. Although there are no school-goers in my house right now, I was there myself just a few months ago and learned a few tricks to easily keep my bag full of healthy food that I would actually want to eat! Below are some simple, healthful recipes for lunches and snacks to keep students fueled, energized, and focused during their days in the classroom.

Photo credit: US Department of Education, Flickr

Fun Sandwiches that Break up the PB&J

Tired of the usual PB&J? Try these sandwiches that are easy to prepare, taste awesome, and are sure to give you fuel during the mid-day recharge.

Herbed Egg Salad

Eggs are full of healthy fats and are a great source of protein. Pair this with a side of sliced veggies, a piece of fruit, or a small salad to give you long-lasting energy and focus for the afternoon classes.

Peanut Butter Honey Banana Sandwich

Feeling the afternoon slump? Pairing a quick source of energy like honey with longer-lasting fats from nut butter will give you the bump you need and the stamina to keep going. Using local honey has added benefits to keeping healthy as seasons change. Honey contains small amounts of allergens in the air, but these allergens are unique to different environments. It is thought that eating local honey helps get your body adjusted to the allergens in the air slowly, so you don't get bombared with the sniffles in the change of seasons.

Photo Credit: PB&B Sandwich, Flickr, Pastilla

Apple & Brie Sandwich

Eating regularly is important to keeping blood sugar, energy, and focus even throughout the day. Skipping meals can have seriously detrimental effects on learning; if you don't have a scheduled lunch break, remind yourself with timers and pack food you're too excited to miss! This Apple & Brie sandwich is the perfect sandwich to look forward to all morning. Delicious and easily customizable, you definitely won’t be skipping lunch when it is in your bag.


For easy storage, try a Salad-in-a-Jar

Sometimes it’s easy to forget to eat enough vegetables during the day. For an easy visual, make a salad in a quart-sized mason jar. Put wet ingredients on the bottom, and add dry ingredients, like spinach, at the top until the jar is full. When you are ready to eat, shake the jar and pour into a bowl. The dressing at the bottom will coat your veggies as you pour it out. Get creative and mix and match all your favorite veggies.

Photo Credit: Mason Jar Salad, Flickr, Steven Depolo



Kefir is a fermented food similar to yogurt with tons of healthful probiotics. The probiotics help keep the immune system strong, which can get bombarded with germs in a new classroom. Keep ahead of the game by pouring some into a to-go container or grabbing an individual-sized bottle.  Other good sources of probiotics are kombucha, yogurt, and lacto-fermented vegetables.

Hard Boiled Eggs

Prepare a whole dozen at once, then grab them through the week as you need them! Perfect for a snack or adding to a salad.

Bulk Bin Trail Mix

Take advantage of ingredients in our awesome Bulk bins! Make your own trail mix at home by combining your favorite nuts, seeds, dried fruits, and granola.

Photo Credit: Bowls with Nuts, Flickr, Didricks

Nut Butter Pouch

Put 2 Tbsp of peanut butter or your favorite nut or seed butter in a ziplock bag or small to-go container. It’s an easy way to add protein and healthy fats to apples or celery.

Colorful Sliced Veggies

Cherry tomatoes, rainbow carrots, and cucumbers are great snack-ables; a bag filled with a few different ones is colorful and enticing. Picky eaters may like a dip to go with them, and creating a variety of textures and colors add appeal to the snack.

Photo Credit: Veggies & Hummus, Flickr, Jennifer

Pita & Hummus

These two foods combine to make a complete protein, essential for a developing mind and brain power.

Students of all ages can benefit greatly from the foods they choose to eat during the day. For tips on healthful shopping on a budget for individuals and families of all ages, check out our monthly Pennywise Pantry tours. This month, we will focus on easy school-night dinners, featuring a recipe for Black Bean Quesadillas!