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What's For Lunch?

Now that summer is over, parents are once again facing the dreaded "what to pack for school lunch" dilemma.o Many a day, my children would come back home with the same items I had packed that morning, saying it was "yuckky" and that they really needed some fast food items to make up for their ravenoous hunger pangs.

Trying to provide a meal that is appealing, but nutritious is a never-ending challenge, but here are some idea to get you off and running this fall:

Choose more fruits and vegetables - either raw broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, cherry tomatoes combined with any variety of berries, sliced apples, pears, peaches will provide color, nutrition and fiber to the lunch menu. Celery and carrot sticks are also classic for school lunches, and you can even add peanut butter to the celery if your child has no nut allergies.

Instead of a sugary dessert, try using a piece of fruit, or a container of fruit salad to end the meal.

Cubes of reduced-fat cheese with whole-grain crackers is another easy to manage but nutritious serving option.

Yogurts come in all flavors and combinations, and they are a good source of protein and calcium for growing bones. Make sure to pack disposable spoons!

Pretzels, popcorn, rice cakes, or dry cereal are good fiber sources without being unhealthy. Most grocery stores carry the healthier varieties, so make sure you aren't choosing a high-fructose or sugary flavor.

Trail mix or nuts are a great source of protein, and are easy to pack in a small container. If you are dealing with nut allergies, try tofu cubes as an alternative.

If your children are STILL coming home with an uneaten lunch, be sure to ask why - did they not like the foods you packed, were they too messy or difficult to eat, were they not at the right temperature? Also ask what foods their friends are bringing to school, and see if they want to try some of those items instead.

Involve your children when you go grocery shopping, and ask them to point out items they might want to try for lunch at school. Keep in mind also that some foods may be easier to navigate in the lunchroom if you peel them, or slice them when packing the lunch box.

Make sure that hot foods stay hot, and cold foods cold to make them stay appetizing. Amazon has plenty of different containers and ice packs to help this happen (see link below)

And above all, be patient - this is a trial and error process, and you won't get it right the first week of school. We've all been there, done that, so hang in there!

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