Braces-Friendly School Meals in McKinney

For all our awesome patients who just got braces, congratulations! We’re so excited to see you go on this epic journey to healthy, beautiful teeth. It’s all going to be worth it at the end, but only if you take can make a few changes to adjust to your new life with braces. Parents, we encourage you to be proactive and take a moment to help your kids understand exactly what restrictions and responsibilities come with braces. Onward!

Food is probably the biggest obstacle to overcome. A lot of yummy dishes and snacks are now off-limits. Chewy, sticky, and crunchy foods can damage the teeth and braces. For example, candied nuts and raw carrots might break the wires. Sticky foods like caramel can easily get stuck in the brackets, causing major tooth decay.

Many of our younger patients are going through a two-phase orthodontic treatment, so to help them better navigate the world of braces-friendly eating, we’ve created a guide to orthodontic school meals for kids in McKinney!

Braces-friendly breakfast


For kids who have a long 6 to 8 hour school day ahead of them, breakfast is extremely important. It gives them the energy to get through the morning and excel in class!

The McKinney Independent School District menu has tons of great options to choose for breakfast, but not all of them are suited for braces. Let’s break down breakfast!

✔️ Muffins: Even though muffins are the ugly sister of the glorious cupcake, they’re actually really healthy and braces-friendly! Their inner beauty has earned them a whole section at McKinney elementary schools. Those with braces can help themselves to banana, chocolate, and blueberry muffins guilt-free.

✔️ Eggs: Eggs of all varieties are egg-cellent for you. Whether they’re scrambled, fried, or boiled, eggs always have a smooth consistency that are easy on the braces. They have an incredible amount of protein, iron, vitamins, and minerals. Our favorite iteration of eggs on the McKinney schools’ menu is the cheddar cheese omelet!

✔️ Bacon, Sausage, & Ham: Schools in McKinney use these meats on lots of breakfast items such as breakfast tacos, breakfast pizzas, and breakfast burritos. Bacon, sausage, and ham are generally okay to eat with braces, just make sure the bacon isn’t cut too thick and fried too crispy. Otherwise, pair them with eggs and a biscuit for a filling breakfast!

✔️ Hash Brown: You can never go wrong with potatoes! Hash browns are no different. Though they are slightly crunchy, the insides are perfectly soft. They make an excellent side dish.

✔️ Pancakes & Waffles: Pancakes and waffles are a soft, sweet breakfast option that poses no threat to braces. We would simply like to advise against drowning those flapjacks in maple syrup because too much sticky sugar on the teeth could lead to plaque and dental decay.

✔️ Cinnamon Buns & Donuts: These sugary pastries are okay for braces, but like maple syrup, they should be consumed in moderation.

❓ Toast, Biscuits, Bagels, Croissants, & Tortillas: Most grains are fine to eat with braces as long as they’re only lightly toasted. Stale bread and biscuits could be too chewy for braces, so don’t bother with them if they get too old. Bagels are quite dense, so we advise against eating them. Luckily, the schools in McKinney don’t serve bagels very often at breakfast, so it shouldn’t be too much of a concern.

❌ Cereal: There’s a huge variety of cereals in McKinney schools, including Trix, Lucky Charms, Cocoa Puffs, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, and Cheerios. It’s a super easy, classic choice for breakfast, but for those with braces, chomping down on crunchy cereal is a huge no-no! Bite down the wrong way and the braces could easily get bent out of shape. If you’re really craving a bowl, we recommend eating it with plenty of milk and waiting for the cereal to soften up. Of course, soggy cereal might not be so appealing to everyone. A good alternative is oatmeal with honey, brown sugar, and berries. It’s a heart-healthy, braces-friendly way to start the day.

❌ Cereal Bars: We know they’re tasty, but we’d like to personally blacklist cereal bars for anyone with braces. They’re on indefinite timeout until those braces come off. Not only are cereal bars crunchy and hard like regular cereal, they’re held together by sugar which is terrible for your teeth. Since they come in huge chunky bricks, they take extra strength to bite off, making them even worse for braces.


No matter where we are, lunch remains the highlight of our day. It’s the perfect time to relax with a nice meal. Having braces shouldn’t take the fun out of this midday meal, but it is important to keep in mind what is and isn’t good for braces.

✔️ Burgers & Hot Dogs: Yum! We’re drooling just thinking about juicy burgers and hot dogs. They’re both made of relatively soft bread and meat, so they’re perfectly fine to consume. The McKinney schools serve a few variations of them, such as chicken burgers and chili dogs. These are just as appetizing and easy on the braces.

✔️ Grilled Proteins: Grilled chicken, beef, salmon, or tofu are tender enough for even the most sensitive teeth. Have them cut into cubes if they’re still difficult to chew. We like them served with a side of rice or salad to complete the meal.

✔️ Salad: Most salads at McKinney schools don’t have too many crunchy vegetables and if they do, they’re sliced into bite sized pieces. We definitely encourage our patients to have a side salad with their lunches to get in much needed vitamins and minerals from the vegetables.

✔️ Fish Sticks & Filets: Fish sticks and filets are soft and flakey, with a slightly crunchy breading. The perfect lunch! Get those omega fatty acids in and indulge in fish sticks anytime.

✔️ Beef Fingers: Wait… cows don’t have fingers! Beef fingers are actually just beef rolled into sticks and fried with breading. They’re a weird, fun way to get protein and they’re ortho-friendly.

✔️ Chicken Nuggets: The ultimate finger food has to be chicken nuggets. They’re easy to consume and tasty as well. No wonder kids love them! Well, lucky for yours, chicken nuggets are a dish that don’t need to be forsaken in the name of braces.

✔️ Mac N’ Cheese: Decadent, creamy mac n’ cheese is the ultimate side dish. It’s gooey, but not sticky, so it’s a yummy dish that kids with braces can enjoy.

✔️ Pasta: McKinney schools love serving Italian pasta dishes and not without good reason! Spaghetti and meatballs is a classic meal that’s easy to prepare. Lasagna and ravioli are also quick fixes that are super filling. Best of all, the basic ingredients of all these dishes (noodles, tomato sauce, & ground meat) can be consumed by children with braces worry-free.

✔️ Mashed Potatoes: McKinney offers buttery, fluffy mashed potato bowls that are perfect for anyone with sensitive teeth or gums.

✔️ Steamed Veggies: Certain vegetables can be too hard on the teeth, but with a little steaming, you can get anything down to the right texture. McKinney serves them all the time, so kids can get their fill of veggies in. If you’re interested in making them at home, it’s easy – cut the veggies into equal pieces, fill a pot with an inch of water, and place the vegetables into the steamer basket on medium heat. Here’s how long you should leave them in:

  • Leafy greens, peas: 3 – 5 minutes
  • Broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, okra, zucchini: 5 – 7 minutes
  • Carrots, potatoes, turnips, squash, beets, asparagus: 8 – 20 minutes
  • Kale & collards: 10 minutes

❓ Pizza: The McKinney schools serve light but cheesy pizzas that are a great option for lunch. However, not all pizzas are made the same. There are places that have chewy, dense crusts that are not suitable for braces. Children shouldn’t feel obligated to eat the crust if it’s too hard on the braces.

❓ Popcorn Chicken & Fried Chicken: While popcorn chicken is bite-sized, it’s coated in more crunchy breading, making it less healthy and desirable to eat than fried chicken. Luckily, the popcorn chicken served at McKinney schools isn’t too crunchy – its texture is a little more like chicken nuggets. Similarly, fried chicken can be crunchy, so we advise students with braces to cut up pieces with a knife and fork rather than biting right into the chicken.

❓ Sandwiches: Sandwiches are a staple American lunch. From hoagies to grilled cheeses, they’re all scrumptious. The only sandwiches that are suspect for braces are peanut butter and jelly. They’re fine to eat as long as the peanut butter isn’t too chunky or sticky. Otherwise, it could stick to the brackets or a nut could move the wire. Overly toasted sandwiches could also be bad for braces, but McKinney schools are usually very careful about how they make their sandwiches and they use smooth sunflower seed butter!

❌ Tacos: Soft tortillas are okay, but hard shell tacos could be a problem for braces. Since McKinney schools usually use crispy corn tortillas, we would abstain from grabbing a beef taco next time it’s on the menu.

❌ Nachos: Like tacos, nachos are terribly crunchy. Unless you or child like soggy tacos, don’t get the chicken nachos at lunch. Pack lunch instead! If you’re craving Mexican food, quesadillas and burritos use similar seasoning and sauces. They’re sure to hit the spot


Studying all day is exhausting and everyone knows it! To give students the energy to power through the day, the school provides plenty of a la carte snacks that can be purchased separately.

✔️ Yogurt: We recommend eating yogurt to patients who just got their braces or had their wires tightened. It requires little to no chewing and it’s an incredible source of calcium and probiotics. Schools in McKinney typically offer yogurt as a snack or in a berry parfait.

✔️ String Cheese: Not only is string cheese fun, it’s nutritious and easy on the braces. Cheese is also known to naturally clean plaque from the teeth and stimulate salivation. So peel away at that string cheese!

✔️ Jello: Wiggly, wobbly fruit jello is a mystery food that’s a tasty treat that is easy to consume. It’s a quick, portable snack for kids in between school activities. Stuff a jello cup into their backpack before they’re headed to read books at the McKinney library or driving off to another soccer practice. 

✔️ Pudding: It’s either dessert or disaster, especially at elementary schools. End lunch on a sweet note with vanilla or chocolate pudding, courtesy of the school cafeteria!

❓ Cookies: You’ll have to decide for yourself if cookies are appropriate for braces. They come in a range of textures, from soft and gooey to crunchy and hard. A good rule of thumb – if you can hear yourself crunching on the cookie, it’s definitely too hard.

❓ Fruits: A lot of fruits can be too hard and crunchy for braces, but that doesn’t mean kids shouldn’t be eating fruit. The McKinney schools offer plenty of diced fruit options that make it easy for anyone with braces to enjoy the simple pleasure of cubed watermelon or pears. If there’s no cut fruit, we recommend eating soft fruits like peaches and bananas.

❌ Popcorn & Crackers: These crunchy snacks can be hard and abrasive on braces. Dinner rolls, breadsticks, or soft pretzels are much better. The schools of McKinney offer a rotating selection of these for lunch.

❌ Chips, Nut, & Trail Mix: We love chips as much as the next person, but they’re definitely too crunchy for braces. Same goes for nuts and trail mix. Save them for later! If the kids are craving something salty, boiled eggs, cheese cubes, or salted edamame are satisfying substitutes.

❌ Granola bars: Not only are granola bars loaded with sugar, they’re very crunchy and difficult to chew, even for those without braces! Opt for a soft protein bar or fig newton and always check the ingredients first. Tons of companies advertise all-natural healthy snacks that are in reality, packed with unhealthy simple sugars.

❌ Celery & Carrot Sticks: This is a popular snack that lunch ladies put out for kids to munch on. Although these are extremely healthy veggies packed with fiber and vitamins, they’re notorious for damaging braces. Instead, get nutrients from softer vegetables like peas, avocado, or cherry tomatoes. In McKinney, Bennett Elementary offers options like strawberries with spinach, roasted potatoes, and BBQ black beans.

McKinney Nutritional Information

For anyone with allergies or other eating restrictions, the schools are usually pretty open to questions about the ingredients, manufacturers, and nutritional content of the meals. Reach out to the district to learn more. Most breakfast and lunch menus are pretty standardized across the city. If the district doesn’t have information at the moment, here’s a list of contact information for local McKinney schools below:

Bennett Elementary School
7760 Coronado Drive
McKinney, TX 75070
(469) 302-5400

Burks Elementary
1801 Hill Street
McKinney, TX 75069
(469) 302-6200

Caldwell Elementary
601 W Louisiana Street
McKinney, TX 75069
(469) 302-5500

Finch Elementary
1205 S Tennessee Street
McKinney, TX 75069
(469) 302-5600

Glen Oaks Elementary
6100 Glen Oaks Drive
McKinney, TX 75070
(469) 302-6400

Johnson Elementary
3400 Ash Lane
McKinney, TX 75070
(469) 302-6500

Malvern Elementary
1100 Eldorado Parkway
McKinney, TX 75069
(469) 302-5300

McClure Elementary
1753 Ridge Road
McKinney, TX 75071
(469) 302-9400

McGowen Elementary
3650 Hardin Boulevard
McKinney, TX 75070
(469) 302-5200

McNeil Elementary
3650 Hardin Boulevard
McKinney, TX 75070
(469) 302-5200

Minshew Elementary
300 Joplin Drive
McKinney, TX 75071
(469) 302-7300

Press Elementary
4101 Shawnee Drive
McKinney, TX 75071
(469) 302-7600

Valley Creek Elementary
2800 Valley Creek Trail
McKinney, TX 75070
(469) 302-4800

Vega Elementary
2511 Cattleman Drive
McKinney, TX 75071
(469) 302-5100

Walker Elementary
4000 Cockrill Drive
McKinney, TX 75070
(469) 302-4600

Webb Elementary
810 Louisiana Street
McKinney, TX 75069
(469) 302-6000

Wilmeth Elementary
901 La Cima Drive
McKinney, TX 75071
(469) 302-7400

Wolford Elementary
6951 Berkshire Road
McKinney, TX 75070
(469) 302-4700

Cockrill Middle School
1351 Hardin Boulevard
McKinney, TX 75071
(469) 75071

Dowell Middle School
301 Ridge Road
McKinney, TX 75070
(469) 302-6700

Evans Middle School
6998 Eldorado Parkway
McKinney, TX 75070
(469) 302-7100

Faubion Middle School
2000 Rollins Street
McKinney, TX 75069
(469) 302-6900

Scott Johnson Middle School
3400 Community Avenue
McKinney, TX 75071
(469) 302-4900

McKinney Boyd High School
600 Lake Forest Drive
McKinney, TX 75071
(469) 302-3400

McKinney High School
1400 Wilson Creek Parkway
McKinney, TX 75069
(469) 302-5700

McKinney North High School
2550 Wilmeth Road
McKinney, TX 75071
(469) 302-4300

If your children aren’t a big fan of any of these options, there are also plenty of braces-friendly foods that can be packed, stored, and brought to school. Head over to our guide to McKinney to learn more about dental-related news right here in our community. 

Our orthodontist, Dr. Dan, loves trying new recipes and hopes patients can continue to indulge in delicious foods even with braces. It’s important to practice safe eating habits, so the process of straightening teeth isn’t delayed by any broken brackets or wires. However, if you ever have an orthodontic emergency, make sure to call our office right away! Showtime Smiles Orthodontics & Pediatric Dentistry in McKinney is here to help.