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Pack an inspired lunch box

Molly Cerreta Smith has enjoyed a career in the publishing industry for more than 10 years. As an editor of several regional magazines, she has had the opportunity throughout her career to meet many local celebrities, businesspeople, ent...

Bagged lunches your kids will love

Back to school means back to brown bag lunches. Don't start the year off with tired old peanut butter and jelly or plain old ham and cheese. Get your kids excited about their lunch with these fun new ideas they'll gobble up.

Pita pocket pizza

Fill half of a whole grain pita pocket with tomato sauce (or small halved grape tomatoes), mozzarella balls and pre-cooked turkey pepperoni. No need to heat — just eat!

If your kids aren't wild about the idea of cold pizza (though what kid isn't?), you can fill a pita with healthy chicken salad made with chunks of cooked chicken breast (from last night's rotisserie dinner, perhaps?) mixed with a small amount of plain Greek yogurt and sour cream and chopped celery, walnuts and grape halves.

Apple and Swiss cheese spread on focaccia

Cut an individual focaccia loaf in half lengthwise. Spread either side with a Swiss cheese spread such as Laughing Cow. Top with thin slices of green apple, then a bit more spread to glue the halves together.

Need more inspiration? These healthy lunch tips for back to school may surprise you >>

Stick it on a skewer

For a super healthy yet inspired lunch that’s definitely outside the lunch box (sorry, I couldn’t help myself!), give skewers a try.

The options are literally limitless when it comes to skewered lunches. A few ideas:

  • Alternate light cheese cubes, thin slices of prosciutto rolled up and asparagus tips.
  • Line a lunchtime skewer with grape tomatoes, kalamata olives, cubes of feta and slices of cucumber. Pack a small cup of tzatziki sauce to really set this skewer off.
  • Fill a skewer with fruit like watermelon, strawberries, cantaloupe, grapes and pineapple — whatever fruit your kids like!

Fruit can be your kids’ friend, not their foe! Here are some fun ways to make fruit kid-friendly >>

Hummus is yummus!

Hummus is a low-fat yet protein-packed spread that goes so well with so many yummy veggies. Spread some plain hummus on a whole grain tortilla, top with some julienned carrots, red peppers and jicama. Then roll up and slice into wheels.

Don’t miss these fun bento boxes >>

Make fun of lunch

Even if your kids don’t have exotic tastes, you can still offer them a creative lunch. Make a simple meal of peanut butter on whole grain bread fun and silly with a fruit face. Cut a grape in half for the eyes, use a strawberry for a nose and make a smile with a slice of apple. Don’t forget to pack this silly sandwich in a sandwich Tupperware instead of a plastic bag to maintain the integrity of the “face” until lunchtime.

More on school lunches

5 Creative school lunches
5 Healthy brown bag lunches kids will love

Creating cool school lunches — Hot, cold, bought or brought

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