Smart Food Choices

Discover some creative back to school tips at Woman's Day. This essential back-to-school guide shows how to add nutritious foods that kids will actually eat.

Health / Healthy Diet / Pack Healthier School Lunches

Pack Healthier School Lunches

See some smart swaps for lunchtime treats

By Gretchen Roberts Posted August 14, 2009 from Woman's Day; September 1, 2009

Pack Healthier School Lunches

Photo: © Getty Images

Making kids’ lunches day after day can be a drag. Kids want yummy; you want healthy. “Packing nutritious foods that they’ll actually eat is an ongoing challenge,” says Kerry Neville, RD, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association. What’s the answer? Simple swaps!

Swap a Side of Chips for Veggies and Dip
Neville picks up single-serving carrot sticks and dips imprinted with cartoon characters. “Individual snack packs aren’t the best environmentally, but if your child will eat a healthier food with a cartoon brand, that’s better than single-serving chips,” she says.

Swap a Bologna Sandwich for a Turkey Rollup
Bologna has a whopping 8 grams of fat in each slice. Here’s an alternative that’s sure to appeal to kids: Roll slices of lowfat turkey around string cheese. Add a few wholegrain crackers to the lunchbox for energizing complex carbohydrates.

Swap 5-Days-a-Week Sandwiches for Soup
You can sneak a ton of veggies in there. And come winter, a thermosful (with oyster crackers on the side) breaks up the monotony of sandwiches. If your child’s school doesn’t allow him to heat up foods, just send it piping hot in a thermos and it’ll still be warm by lunchtime.

Swap White Bread for Wholegrain
Whole grains are a great source of fiber, B vitamins, iron and more. Look for “whole grain” or “whole wheat” on the package to make sure it’s the real thing. Some “wheat” breads simply consist of refined white flour with brown coloring added. Try the wraps, pitas and bagels too.

Swap Juice Boxes for Milk
Most kids drink too much juice. (The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more than 12 oz per day for school-age children.) Have your child buy milk at school so it stays cold. “Even chocolate milk is better than soda or drinks that aren’t 100% juice,” says Neville.

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