The Healthy Lunch Box

    A healthy sandwich, carrots and an apple in a clear green lunch boxWhen it’s time to send your children back to school — or decide on what to pack for your own lunch — one of the single-most important things you can do is prepare nutritious meals.

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    Not only does a healthy lunch keep you and your children from being groggy and loaded down at school, it helps them establish healthy eating habits for life and have enough energy to succeed each and every day.

    The suggestions for school lunches below take into account the age of the child — small kids need small, fun lunches, while older kids need more sustenance without a lot of frills. Some of the lunches here have suggestions on what else to add to the lunchbox; other all around good choices include whole grain crackers and pretzels, crisp vegetables, an occasional bag of chips, fruit, homemade trail mix and a cool drink.

    Elementary School Lunches
    At this age, children like small, fun lunches that resemble those pre-packaged lunches you can buy in the store.  Many children are picky at this age and only eat what they are familiar with.

    Cheese and Tomato Crackers: Spread mini rice crackers or flatbread pita with soft goat cheese or layer with slices of Swiss or mozzarella cheese and horizontally halved grape tomatoes. Add a banana or a snack bag of sliced mandarin oranges.

    Mini Sliders: Buy mini burger buns or rolls and top with sliced meatballs. Pack some barbecue sauce or ketchup for dipping. Add a bag of baked whole grain chips, carrot sticks and a frozen box of 100% juice

    Pasta Salad: Cook short tubular pasta the night before and toss with olive oil to coat. Add chunks of cheese, snap peas and a little sweet red bell pepper (or other vegetable your child likes).

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