Kids are back to school, and for many of us, we are tasked with making lunches. When there are so many moving parts with back-to-school, fall sports, work, etc., making lunch can be a dreaded chore. But hopefully, this guide can help you put together a quick and nutritious meal.
We try to follow MyPlate as a guide. MyPlate illustrates the five food groups by using a familiar mealtime place setting. MyPlate is part of a larger communication initiative based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans to help consumers make better food choices. MyPlate was designed to remind Americans to eat healthfully.
In each of these Choose Your Own Adventure categories, some Pacific Northwest local foods and brands are highlighted.
Pick One or Two
- Bell Peppers
- Snap Peas
- Green Beans
- Brussel Sprouts
- Bok Choy
- Sweet Potato
Oregon Fresh is a great source to find out what veggies and fruits are in season in the area.
This is a great local brand for soups or chilis. The tomato soup can’t be missed! They started in the late 1980s as a co-packer making tofu and soy milk. Then they started non-dairy beverages and added broths, hearty soups, meals, and sides.
One of the country’s most prominent family-owned and operated prepared foods, they have potato salads, cole slaw, macaroni salads, and more!
Pickled peppers are a fun local treat to add to lunches. They also have pickled green beans and asparagus.
Pick One or Two
- Rice (brown or white)
- English muffins
- Vermicelli noodles
- Ramen noodles
- Rice paper (spring roll wrappers)
- Pita Bread
Whether you are looking for grains, mixes, or on-the-go goodies, Bob’s Red Mill has something for everyone. Go to the restaurant at Bob’s Red Mill Whole Grain Store in Milwaukie for a first-hand taste test of their products.
Looking for nutritious whole grain breads and buns? Dave’s Killer Bread has some great options.
These are great local tortilla chips. They have a very sweet and inspirational story on how they came to be. Check out their origin story here. Be sure to try their Chilipeno chips as well!
- Bean burgers
- Veggie burgers
- Beans (black, white, pinto)
- Nuts (be mindful of allergies and rules for your school)
- Sunflower Seed Butter
- Hot Dogs
- Meat Patty
- Deli Meats
- Protein Balls
- Hard Boiled Eggs
First founded by some University of Oregon students, they made delicious nut butters in yummy combinations.
Sausages, salami, and more for all your charcuterie lunch needs. Olympic Provisions is available locally and online. They even have several restaurants in the area.
King Harvest is old-school Portland. It is incredible how yummy just a few ingredients can be. Their hummus is chickpeas, lemon juice, and tahini, which is perfection.
Dressings, dips, spreads, and even juices are available. These are protein-packed and plant-based dips (and another long-standing institution from the 1970s).
- Berries (Strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, marionberry)
- Melon (watermelon, honeydew, cantaloupe)
- Asian Pears
Oregon Fresh is a great source to find out what fruits and veggies are in season in the area.
Oregon Hills makes some great jams that are made with fresh berries from the PNW (and with no corn syrup).
DAIRY (and Dairy Alternatives)
- Milks (milk, soy, coconut, almond, oat)
- Yogurts (milk, soy, and coconut)
- Cheddar Cheese
- Cottage cheese
- Cream Cheese
- Queso fresco
Nancy’s Yogurt is so much more than yogurt. They have yogurt, sour cream, cream cheese, kefir, and more. And they have an amazing story of how the Grateful Dead saved their company in the 1970s. Read their blog about it!
Tillamook Cheese has been a force in the PNW for 110 years. Tillamook Cheese has a variety of cheeses, ice cream, butter, sour cream, yogurt, and a long list of other products.
Heidi Ho! makes authentically awesome plant-powered foods that are packed with veggies and that are wildly delicious. Their “cheeze” dips are worth the hype.
Bonus Local Condiments
Does your kid love ketchup? Try this favorite local condiment.
Beaverton Foods has types of ALL types of mustards and lots of other condiments. They have Beaver, Inglehoffer, Napa Valley, Pacific Farms, and Tulelake brands.
Fellow caretakers, may your lunch-making load be lightened with this list. Decision fatigue is real! Sometimes it is just helpful to have a place to jump off from so we can put together a delicious and nutritious meal for our families. In addition, it is always great to support our local businesses. Can you think of other quick lunch ideas? Let us know!
Johanna is married with two kids, three dogs, one cat, nine chickens, and a few fish. She has been in the Pacific Northwest since the dream was alive in the 90s but has Southern roots and hails from Arkansas. The family spends a lot of time at some sort of sporting event for the kids. Johanna likes to fast craft, garden, host parties, and bake. Johanna and her crew go hard traveling, DIY-ing, and are always up for a new adventure or challenge.