It’s back to school season, which means packed lunches are back on the menu! Preparing a nutritious, easy school lunch that your kids will enjoy can be a daunting task; but, with a little guidance you too can get an A+ this school year! And keep in mind, packed lunches aren’t just for kids! You can save big on your budget (and waistline) by following these family-friendly tips as well! Tip # 1: Pack a nutrient dense meal. Kids, like their parents, are busy these days. Practices, tutoring sessions, homework, and social activities take a lot of energy! Make sure to set your kids up for success by packing meals with the power to sustain them throughout their day. Think whole grain bread, noodles, and crackers, fresh fruits and veggies, lean proteins and low-fat dairy products. Make sure to keep portion sizes in check and to save salty snacks and candy for an occasional special treat! If your kids aren’t used to whole grain bread yet, try Sara Lee’s Whole Grain White (NuVal 34). It looks the same as white bread but has better nutrition. Tip #2: Be Creative. We eat with our eyes first, and our kids are no exception! Take a couple extra minutes while packing your kids’ meals (and yours too!) to make food fun and interesting. Create cool figures out of fruits and vegetables (think apple smiles or ants on a log). Use cookie cutters to make animal or sports shapes out of your sandwiches. Pack finger foods that can be dipped into a sauce or topping (think hummus or peanut butter) or skewered (such as fruit kabobs) to encourage consumption! Tip #3: Food Safety First! Keep packed lunches in the fridge until you are ready to leave for school/work. This keeps you ahead of the game! You also want to make sure to keep your cold food cold. Frozen water bottles and juice boxes are great to pack as additional ice packs. Finally, Lunch boxes can get pretty messy after a long day at school. Take care to scrub used lunch boxes with warm, soapy water at the end of every day and let the box fully dry to avoid mold growth.
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