Top 10 Pack-Your-Own-Lunch Ideas For Happy Kids

cutfruitRemember ‘mystery meat’ from your school cafeteria? I know I’m dating myself here, but who knows what was even in that stuff (hence the name)? School lunches may have gotten a bit more kid friendly since our day, but the average meal served in the cafeteria is still likely to be loaded with fat, sugar and artificial stuff you can’t even pronounce … AND they’re expensive.

Do yourself and your kids a favor and create a packable lunch using healthy, fun ingredients. Consider these ‘top ten’ yummy lunch items and pack it all up in washable plastic containers, reusable plastic bags, or a cool lunch box.

1. cold-cut roll ups (lean low-fat turkey, ham, or roast beef with low-fat cheese on whole wheat tortillas)

2. cold pizza (shredded mozzarella cheese with pizza sauce on a flour tortilla, whole wheat pita, English muffin, or mini pizza shell)

3. cracker sandwiches (whole-grain crackers filled with low-fat cream cheese or peanut butter and jelly)

4. peanut butter and celery sticks

5. bite-size fruit pieces

6. cheese sticks

7. small containers of yogurt or apple sauce

8. veggie sticks or baby carrots with low-fat dip or dressing

9. left-overs from their favorite dinner

10. cold pasta mixed with chicken or tuna chunks and a bit of mayo or mustard

Add a 100% fruit juice box, low-fat milk box, or water bottle and you’re good to go.

Oh yeah, and here are some suggestions to keep lunch foods safe:

* Wash your hands first.
* Use a thermos for hot foods.
* Use cold packs or freeze some foods and drinks overnight. They’ll thaw in the lunchbox and be perfect when that lunch bell rings.
* Wash out lunchboxes every day or use brown paper bags that can be discarded or recycled. Write a motivational quote or a short joke on the bag to add some zip to their day.
* Toss in some sanitizing wipes to remind kids to wash their hands before eating and to clean up after.

Don’t forget to involve your kids in the process so they have some skin in the game, and send us your ideas for great school lunches … we know you have some!

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Ellen and Rachel are two old friends and “expert” mamas—one a pediatrician and one a family therapist—with fifty years of parenting experience between them.

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