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5 Tips for Packing Easy, Healthy School Lunches

Packing your child’s lunch is a way to help you know what they’re eating. The trick is finding that balance between healthy and delicious – creating a lunch your kids won’t throw out or trade. But how do you avoid getting into a “not turkey again” lunch rut when you’re crunched for time?

Adolescents also need some added nutrients to support their rapid growth. Iron, calcium and zinc are important for pre-teens and teens. Girls especially will feel tired and can’t concentrate without enough iron. Zinc and iron can be found in meat, poultry, enriched cereals, breads and grains. Calcium in dairy products helps to build strong bones.

Protein helps teen boys increase muscle mass. But the American diet is so rich in protein that we usually get twice the FDA-recommended amount every day without really trying. And, it has become trendy for food companies to add extra protein to different foods – from cookies to yogurt and ice cream. Often though, it means adding sugar too.

Carbohydrates get a bad rap but they are a teen’s main source of energy. Try for complex carbs to satisfy their hunger: fresh fruits and veggies, whole wheat bread and pasta, oats and brown rice.

Putting it all together

The pediatric group has some ideas to get you started on your own fun lunch combinations:

Start with the right “tools.”

Choose a variety of different-size containers that are easy for kids to open but also safe in the microwave, dishwasher and freezer, as well as BPA and PVC free. You can find inexpensive bento-type containers at the dollar stores, which can help with portion control.

Get your kids involved and prep in bulk.

Spend a little time together doing the prep work, such as making big freezer batches of turkey meatballs or oatmeal muffins, cutting up fruits and veggies, and putting crackers or sunflower seeds in sandwich bags or containers. You can turn it into a weekly routine.

Don’t go overboard:

Kids usually only have about 20 minutes for lunch at school so you’ll want foods that are easy to grab and eat without much assembly.

Make it fun:

Presentation can be the key to encouraging kids to eat healthier. Use cookie cutters to create playful shapes in wraps or mini-sandwiches, cheese slices and more.

Kids love finger foods that they can pick at.

Try cut-up fruits with a yogurt dip or veggies with hummus and spinach dips.

Go ahead, think outside the (lunch) box and have a great rest of the school year!

Riverside Medical Clinic is the largest provider of ambulatory care in the Inland Empire. With multiple locations, you’re sure to find a clinic close to you. Visit to see. The pediatric physicians at Riverside Medical Clinic strive to offer children and young adults world-class care with highly qualified pediatricians, conveniently located in the same building as our other physicians. For more information or to schedule an appointment with the Riverside Medical Clinic Pediatrics Department, please call(951) 582-3789.

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