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5 Tips for Lunchbox Nutrition

August 10, 2012

With back-to-school season rolling in, it’s time to once again prepare lunch boxes for your kids’ daily meals. As a parent, it’s important to ensure solid nutrition in these meals, but there’s rarely enough time in the day to go all out. Here are 5 tips for ensuring healthy mid-day meals with minimal work.

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1. Get colorful.

It’s easy to have 1 or 2 “go to” fruits or veggies as a side, but don’t be afraid to mix it up. Apples, bananas, berries, sliced melon, grapes, oranges, pears: the greater the variety, the better your child’s nutrition – and the more fun they’ll have seeing what’s inside each day.

2. Shape it up!

Second to food selection is getting your child to eat it. It’s amazing how far a fun shape can go. Give them a choice about their sandwiches (triangles or rectangles?), and slice vegetables into fun-shaped wedges or silly curves.

3. Cheat on PB&J.

Yes, it’s a good source of protein and a childhood favorite. But variety is essential to good nutrition. Rotate between PB&J, tuna salad, deli cheese/meat, and a pita stuffed with veggies and hummus or a mild fish like kipper snacks. And try different types of bread, while you’re at it. Lunch will stay exciting and healthy.

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4. Cheat on sandwiches, too.

Yes, they’re good finger food, but there’s much more out there, and there are better ways to pack in the nutrition. Whip up a batch of cold salad (such as Grape, Walnut and Tuna Tortellini Salad) at the beginning of the week and pair daily servings with fresh fruit or veggies. Voila – you’ve got a meal!

5. Make school lunch a family affair.

All of these tips apply not to just kids, but to the whole family (well, except #2… maybe), both for the sake of your nutrition and for setting a good example. If you plan for multiple lunches, it’s easier to have the right stuff on hand. Leftovers are a great way to keep it simple at the whole-family level. Making Seafood Taco Salad for dinner? Prepare a double batch and you’ve got lunch covered.

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