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Care New England Wellness Center
Care New England Wellness Center

Pack a Healthy Lunch Box

Send your lunch box brigade off with healthy treats

 Parents know all too well the challenges of getting children to eat healthy, and the lunch boxes they'll soon be packing are no exception. The cafeteria black market might prove tempting, but you can easily overcome that with creativity.

Kathy Shilko RD, LDN, CDOE, CDE, a nutritionist with the Care New England Wellness Center, suggests parents talk with their children about different healthy options, even taste-testing a few before the school year begins.

"Sometimes, kids only know what they're given. If parents swap out cookies and high-sugar snacks for others that are more nutritious, kids might be pleasantly surprised," she says.

Keep plenty of these healthy options on hand, and let your children choose their lunch box snacks each day:

  • Whole-grain crackers
  • Peanut and almond butters
  • Light canned tuna fish
  • Raw vegetables that can be cut into easy to manage slices
  • Fresh fruits or applesauce and fruit cups with no added sugar (try a fruit kabob with chunks of fresh pineapple, strawberries or grapes

"Encourage your children to take sandwiches with whole-grain breads or bagels, tortillas or colorful wraps," Shilko says. "Fill the sandwiches with lean meat, light tuna or everyone's favorite, peanut butter and jelly. Or, try something really different like adding chopped grapes to chicken salad or a sliced banana to a peanut butter sandwich."

Egg salad on a whole-wheat bagel with a piece of fruit

  • Low-fat yogurt, whole-wheat crackers and fruit
  • Shredded cheese, chopped chicken and cut vegetables rolled into a tortilla
  • ½ cup of hummus, whole-grain crackers and cherry tomatoes
  • Bean soup in a thermos, whole-grain roll and fruit
  • A "pizzadilla" made with turkey pepperoni, marinara sauce and shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, baked inside a tortilla
  • Couscous salad with couscous, chickpeas, olives and tomatoes
  • Chicken with avocado in a whole-wheat pita pocket
  • Confetti egg salad on whole wheat bread

  • If your child yearns for something different for lunch box snacks, there are a host of possibilities that won't take too long to prepare or can be prepared in bulk on a Sunday afternoon.

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