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Five Easy and Healthy Lunches for Back to School

It’s back-to-school season, and that means it’s time to think about school-lunch planning.  
Healthy lunches are critical to kids’ overall health and success. According to a 17-year analysis published in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), more than half of kids – 56% – were eating meals of low nutritional value that contained far too much salt, as well as too many processed foods and not enough vegetables. 

Eating healthy lunches can keep kids energized and focused throughout the day, as well as keep kids feeling good, preventing chronic health issues over time.

But parents know their kids can sometimes be picky. It can be a challenge to come up with delicious, healthy options that kids will actually eat. 

Here are five healthy school-lunch ideas to try!  

#1 – PB&J Bistro Box
Peanut butter and jelly sandwich, celery and/or carrot sticks, sliced apples or bananas, and popcorn. Can add a handful of chocolate chips for a sweet treat. 
A fun take on a bistro-style protein box, both kids and adults will love this lunch. If kids allow, make the PB&J on whole-grain bread to make it even healthier. For kids with nut allergies, or those who are not allowed to bring peanut butter to school, you can swap it out with sunflower butter, oat butter or another no-nut butter.  

#2 – Pasta with Marinara
Pre-cooked pasta like tortellini or rigatoni with marinara sauce, slices of cucumbers or celery sticks with dipping sauce, and a handful of blueberries or slices of banana. Can replace marinara sauce with meat sauce or another pasta sauce if desired. 
Pasta for lunch! Whether they’re leftovers or quickly cooked and prepped for school lunch boxes, pasta-and-sauce is a great lunch for kids. Add some veggies and fruits for extra nutrition. For those kids with dietary restrictions, switch out regular pasta with gluten- or egg-free pasta options. 

#3 – DIY Taco  
Corn or flour tortillas, shredded lettuce, shredded cheese, diced tomatoes, pre-cooked ground meat or pre-cooked-and-drained beans, and a container of sour cream and/or guacamole.
Let the kids put their lunch together with this do-it-yourself taco lunch! They’ll enjoy the experience as much as they enjoy eating them. Cater the box to each kid’s favorite taco items. 

#4 – Turkey & Cheese Pinwheels
Deli slices of turkey, lettuce, and slices of American cheese on flour or corn tortilla, wrapped and cut into mini pinwheel sandwiches (rolled), as well as slices of veggies like celery sticks or carrots, a handful of raspberries or blueberries, and some popcorn or chips (veggie chips is a great option!). Add some chocolate chips for something sweet, or mix them into the popcorn for a fun surprise. 
Pinwheels are a fun way to eat sandwiches! Deli meat and cheese types can be swapped out easily, and there are a variety of different options for fruits and veggies to pack along with the pinwheels. For a fun, meat-free spin, try Tofurky slices instead of deli meat. Plant-based cheese slices can also be used instead of traditional cheese.  

#5 –Bento Box Lunch
Slices of cheese, crackers (ideally, whole grain), slices of apple or orange, a handful of blueberries, and sliced carrots or snap peas in the pod. Can also add a bit of ranch dressing or hummus for dipping veggies and/or crackers.  

Bento boxes aren’t just for adults! Put together a healthy, bento-style lunch for the kids – complete with clean, satisfying and filling foods. 

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