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Move Over PB&J: Your Child’s Lunch Box, Revisited

Jul 30, 2015 03:30PM ● Published by Dia

In the age of gluten-free galore, kale on every menu, and the FDA’s recent demand that food companies eliminate trans fats within three years, America is clearly immersed in an unprecedented health frenzy. But the reality is, we are also busier than ever. As a result, your child’s lunch box may be the last thing you get to – or want to, for that matter – spend time on. We’ve got you covered with some quick dos and don’ts when it comes to packing easy, nutritious, and fun lunches for your kiddos this year.

DO EDUCATE YOURSELF

When it comes to nutrition, it seems like there’s always another new ingredient to fear. But getting educated on the basics isn’t so hard, and it makes for wiser choices at the grocery store. Generally, avoid things like artificial flavors, preservatives, enriched wheat, high fructose corn syrup, and hydrogenated oils. Always check the nutrition information and look for low-fat, whole grains and low sodium. Many processed cereal bars, crackers and frozen food can be misleading.

DON’T SET YOUR KIDS UP FOR A LUNCHTIME DISASTER

Try to steer clear of anything smelly (like tuna or egg salad) that would be off-putting to your child’s lunchtime companions. Avoid packing foods that spoil easily, as your kid’s lunch probably goes all morning with no refrigeration. And if you’re going to pack liquids in a thermos or container, make sure to close it tightly or your kid could end up with lunchbox soup.

DO AMP UP THE CREATIVITY

If there’s anything to attract a kid to food, it’s fun. Using cookie cutters, cut sandwiches into different shapes, or use a whole-wheat tortilla or a pita pocket every once in a while instead of traditional bread. Try something new by putting berries on small skewers or toothpicks, and stick on a few marshmallows (we won’t judge!) for some added flair. Instead of going for packaged trail mix, hop on the DIY bandwagon and create a big batch of healthy mix containing snacks like air-popped popcorn, wholewheat crackers, and a variety of nuts (avoid peanuts since your child could be near someone with an allergy).

DO KEEP IT LOCAL

If you’re fresh out of ideas by Friday, don’t send your kid through the cafeteria line at school. Swing by one of the many quick restaurants in the area for some healthy, packable options. Our favorites include Zoe’s Kitchen, Café Express, Snappy Salads, Nekter and MyFitFoods. Zoe’s has lots of healthy kids’ meals like grilled chicken tenders with fruit. Grab a Snap Wrap from Snappy Salads for easy packing, or swing by MyFitFoods for low-calorie, high-protein selections. With local options like these, packing a nutritious lunchbox is easier than ever.

These modifications won’t have your child suddenly craving a quinoa and kale salmon salad with lemon vinaigrette. But hopefully with these tips in mind, you’re better prepared to cook up some new ideas when it comes to healthy lunchbox fare. And you might even have fun doing it.

Health+Beauty, In Print, Today nutrition LUNCHTIME your child’s lunch box
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