The 1-2-3 system is a great way to beat the daily lunch game. And the prize – a brown-bagged lunch full of variety and nutrition that you control.

The game plan is easy. Think 1-2-3: protein, whole grain, fruit and/or veggie every time you plan lunch. And plan ahead – look at the week ahead and plan lunches for the whole family. Establishing a go-to list, designed with this system in mind, sets the stage, but mix and match for new and fresh lunch combinations for everyone’s specific tastes.

When you consistently use the 1-2-3 system outlined here, you’ll find an endless supply of lunch ideas to switch, swap and borrow. As long as there are the core components – protein, whole grain and fruit and/or vegetable – lunch is not only ready in a snap, but also filled with all the vitamins and nutrients kids need to stay energized to learn, think and work all afternoon.

Below is a week’s worth of ideas to get started with the 1-2-3 lunch system:


  1. Soy burger and low-fat cheese (protein/dairy)
  2. Wheat bun (whole grain)
  3. Lettuce/tomato and 100% juice blend (fruit/veggie)


  1. Low-fat sharp cheddar and black beans
  2. Whole-grain tortilla with salsa
  3. Whole-kernel corn, bell peppers


  1. Peanut butter
  2. Whole-grain bread
  3. Banana or apple slices


  1. Low-fat cheese and deli turkey
  2. Whole-grain crackers
  3. Snap peas


  1. Feta cheese and hummus
  2. Whole-grain pita bread
  3. Romaine lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes

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