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Pack a Better Back-to-School Lunch!

A variety of eye-catching lunch boxes.

A variety of eye-catching lunch boxes.

It’s that time of year again! With kids off to school they are again faced with the important question: What’s for lunch? With childhood obesity on the rise, having a nutritious lunch is an important part of an overall healthful diet. Since most kids consume one-third of their daily total calories at lunch, here are some tips on helping them eat more super-nutritious foods.

♦ Plan ahead!! It helps to have all the right ingredients on hand for making the best lunch. You might even consider coming up with a weekly menu. Involve the kids in planning whenever possible.

♦ Avoid last-minute rushing by preparing all or part of lunch the night before.

♦ Use cookie cutters to make fun shapes with sandwiches, etc.

♦ Make sure you always include at least one fresh fruit or vegetable

—even better, include both!

♦ Hide special notes or cards in the lunch box.

♦ Best beverage bets include skim milk, water or 100% fruit juice.

♦ Try to use more low-fat snack and cookie items – see the list below for ideas.

♦ Remember food safety. It is better if you keep foods chilled in insulated lunch boxes with either an ice pack or frozen juice box.

Consider these options when choosing ingredients for lunches:

Instead of


White Bread

100% Whole Wheat or Pita Pockets


Light Mayonnaise or Low-Fat Dressing

Fried Chips

Baked Chips, Air-Popped Popcorn or Veggies & Dip

Fruit in Syrup

Fresh Fruit or Fruit Packed in Juice

Cookies and Snack Cakes

Yogurt or Low-Fat Baked Goods

Fruit Drinks and Soda

Skim Milk, Soy Milk, Water or 100% Fruit Juice

Photo credit:  Dorothy C. Lee

Dorothy C. Lee, CFCS
Extension Agent
Family & Consumer Sciences


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