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How to pack the perfect lunch

Naomi de la Torre is freelance writer and stay-at-home-mom with two delightful boys, ages three and six. Naomi has an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Arizona, is a self-proclaimed salsa diva, and can make a killer octopus ...

How to... pack a healthy lunchbox

It's no secret, moms. Getting kids to eat a balanced diet can be a headache. Packing the perfect lunch is possible, though, and we can help.

How to pack the perfect lunch

School lunches make it even more difficult to keep your kids' nutrition on track because you aren’t there to monitor what they are eating. Don’t lose hope yet. By using the helpful tips in this list below, you can learn how to pack the perfect school lunch — one that is tempting, tasty and nutritious too!

Step 1: Choose nutrient-dense foods

According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans released in 2010 by the USDA, one of the best ways to achieve a healthy diet is to start with nutrient-dense foods and beverages. This includes fruits, veggies, whole grains, low-fat milk products, seafood, lean meats, poultry, eggs, nuts, seeds and legumes. When choosing foods to put in your children's lunches, try to make most of your choices from the list above.

For example, some main course options might be:

  • Turkey sandwich on whole-grain bread with lettuce and tomato
  • Whole-wheat pita with hummus
  • Three-bean chili
  • Chicken noodle soup with veggies
  • Black bean burrito with cheese
  • Ham and turkey roll-up
  • Whole-grain spaghetti and meatballs

All of these foods are excellent choices because they are high in fiber, rich in nutrients and full of protein.

Step 2: Pick wholesome side dishes

Side dishes don't have to be full of chemicals, salt and sugar to be fun. Get creative and pick healthy sides that are nutritious and delicious. With tempting, kid-friendly choices like these, your children won't find themselves wandering off to the vending machine:

  • Fresh whole fruits (grapes, apples, mangos, peaches, plums, bananas, etc.)
  • Yogurt parfait with fresh berries and granola
  • Fruit kabobs
  • Colorful veggie strips with hummus or ranch dressing
  • Deviled eggs
  • Whole grain muffin (carrot, blueberry, apple, cranberry, etc.)
  • Cornbread
  • Dried fruit chips
  • Whole grain crackers and cheese

 Mott's Wild Grape Surge

Step 3: Include a healthy beverage

Don't ruin your child's wholesome lunch by tossing in an unhealthy beverage full of added junk. The best choices are fresh water with lemon, low-fat milk and fruit juices like Mott's Wild Grape Surge. The 8-ounce bottles are the perfect serving size for little ones, and easy to pack. Plus, there are flavors, like apple-white grape and fruit punch, to add some variety.

Step 4: Mix it up and keep it fresh

Don't get stuck in a rut! No one likes to eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches every day. Keep it exciting and mix it up. If your children's school allows students to heat up their lunches, don't forget to utilize any yummy leftovers you have on hand.

Make sure you have the supplies to pack foods in a way that keeps them looking tasty and inviting. Who wants to eat a pear that's been smushed at the bottom of a paper bag beneath a heavy thermos? Consider investing in some cute reusable tins that you can use over and over again. Keep it fun. Keep it fresh. Before you know it, your kids will be chowing down every day on nutritious, balanced, healthy foods at lunchtime.

This post was sponsored by Mott's.

More ways to raise healthy kids

Tips for prepping the lunchbox the night before
Pack a better lunch for your kids
Smart snacking for after school
10 Healthiest foods your kids need to be eating

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