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Easy Ways to Pack a Healthy School Lunch

Packing your kids’ lunches for school means you know which nutritious foods they are eating.

Here are some budget-friendly, creative ideas to keep kids happy and healthy at lunchtime:

Make a Smarter Sandwich

While some kids prefer the same thing every day, others may be OK with a slight switch to their sandwich.

  • Use different breads like 100% whole-wheat tortilla wraps or 100% whole-wheat pita pockets.

  • In addition to lettuce and tomato, try shredded carrot or zucchini and sliced apple or even pear with a turkey sandwich.

  • Try swapping cheese or mayo for avocado or hummus.

  • Try leftover grilled chicken in your sandwich instead of lunch meat.

Love those Leftovers

Think about using the leftovers from a family favorite dinner for a next day lunch. Use a thermos to keep foods hot or cold until the lunch bell rings. Some ideas:

  • Soup - tomato, vegetable or bean

  • Chili (vegetarian or made with lean ground chicken or turkey)

  • Spaghetti (whole wheat with tomato, pesto or marinara sauce)

  • Bean casserole or beans & rice

These foods sometimes have a lot of salt, so make them homemade with little or no salt, or compare nutrition facts of similar products and choose the ones with less sodium.

Let Them Dunk

Sometimes it’s okay to let your kids play with their food, especially when they are getting extra nutrition. Try packing one of these fun dunks with dippers:

  • Apple and pear slices to dip into plain yogurt or peanut butter.

  • Carrot, celery and sweet pepper strips to dip into hummus, fresh salsa or homemade bean dip.

  • Whole-grain crackers or slices of grilled tofu to dunk into soup.

Get Them Involved!

When kids help pack their lunch, they’re more likely to eat that lunch! On nights you have a bit more time, like a Sunday night, have them choose which piece of fruit or what type of whole grain bread they want and let them assemble their lunch. Make this a weekly routine – it’s also another great way to spend family time together.

Click HERE to check out the original article and other resources from the American Heart Association. Article copyright © 2016 American Heart Association. This recipe/article is brought to you by the American Heart Association's Simple Cooking with Heart © Program.