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Pack The Perfect School Lunch


Sep. 15, 2011 - MY9TV.COM - Attention parents! Do you have problems packing your kid's school lunches? Picky eaters? Small budget? Not enough time? Well these lunch ideas will be sure to please your kids and your budget.


US Department Of Agriculture Daily Food Plan

From Robyn Flipse, The Everyday Dietitian

1. Rewrapping the sandwich:
• Round = Multi-grain Sandwich Thins or burger buns with veggie patty, round provolone cheese slice & tomato
• Long = White wheat hot dog roll with peanut butter and banana or cheese stick wrapped with ham or turkey
• Thin = wrap filled with BBQ sauce, chicken strips and shredded lettuce or refried beans, cheese and salsa
• Crispy = Whole grain crackers with egg, tuna or chicken salad or hummus with olives or cheese squares with bread & butter pickle slices

2. Things that dip and the dips to dunk them in:
• Chicken strips • honey mustard
• Pretzel stix • flavored light cream cheese
• Cocktail corn • ranch dressing
• Baked corn chips • salsa
• Sweet potato wedges • barbecue sauce
• Baked pita triangles • hummus
• Seeded bread sticks • marinara sauce

3. Fruit in 5 forms: fresh, frozen, canned, dried and juiced
• Peeled, sectioned clementine
• Frozen strawberries in a smoothie
• Canned diced peached in gelatin
• Dried cherries with Raisinets and granola
• Frozen juice pops or 100% fruit juice and seltzer

4. Protein for every appetite:
• Boiled egg • Chicken leg or winglets
• Meatballs • Falafel discs
• Veggie nuggets • Fish cakes or sticks
• Nut or soy butters • Baked tofu and tempeh
• Baked beans • Chili with beans

5. Milk in many ways:
• Cold or hot with cocoa • Yogurt with fruit or made into dip
• Cheese sliced, cubed, shredded or string • Melted cheese

From Robyn Flipse, The Everyday Dietitian

1. Ask them what they want & like since it's not a nutritious lunch until it's eaten
• Avoid weird smelling foods
• Don't pack something they've never eaten before, do your experimenting at home
• Skip things that take a long time to eat, unpack, peel or chew
• Don't worry about repetition, if they're eating it and it's balanced, that's fine

2. Decide together on what's possible/allowable/doable, then strive for healthier versions
• Homemade "lunchables"
• Custom whole wheat bagel or English muffin pizzas
• Original recipe for pasta & cheese, stuffed baked potato, 3-bean baked beans

3. Make a weekly lunch menu with choices under headings for each food group before you go shopping
• Take kids along whenever possible and let them make final selection from approved varieties
• Plan for afterschool snacks and drinks, too
• Allow kids with early lunch who aren't that hungry to eat snack at school if more nutritious meal will be eaten when they get home after school

4. Don't limit yourself to traditional lunch foods
• Leftovers from dinner
• Breakfast foods
• Appetizers or finger foods

5. Control temperatures and consistency
• Use containers to protect food from bruising, squashing
• Keep hot foods hot, cold foods cold
• Freeze drink boxes, water bottles or ice packs to keep lunch cold
• Pack same lunch for yourself and store in closet for same amount of time to see if it's worth eating

6. Get kids involved in packing their own lunch
• Do while clearing table from dinner
• Use chart as guide
• Offer to give them the cost of school lunch any day they pack and take their own

7. Create your own single-serving portions of favorite foods over the weekend
• Put kids' names on bags and containers to keep separate
• Provide age appropriate portions
• Designer trail mix with dried fruit, nuts, cereal combos
• Single serve dips, dressings, hummus, salsa
• Cheese cubes, grapes, grape tomatoes, pickles
• Pudding or gelatin with fruit in favorite flavor combinations,
• Reusable containers teaches conservation

8. Bake muffins, quick breads, cereal bars, low fat brownies and cookies then individually wrap and freeze for easy packing

9. Imitate food industry to make it more fun and appealing
• Add stickers to containers or draw designs on them
• Cut foods into different shapes – cut apple into circles instead of wedges
• Include surprises from discount store
• Use holiday baking cup liners and themed party napkins

10. Don't go to extremes if it will embarrass or bring on teasing
• Sushi yes, tofu no
• Sugar snap peas yes, pea soup no
• Ask what other kids are eating and what think about those lunches


From Robyn Flipse, The Everyday Dietitian

1. Have child write days of the week on seven zip-top sandwich bags then count out age appropriate portions of different treats into each, such as:

• peanuts in the shell • frozen crinkle cut carrots • sweetened cereal
• seasoned pita chips • roasted soy beans • orange sections
• seeded bread sticks • cheese cubes • raw green beans
• flavored rice cakes • chick peas • cocktail corn
• baked corn chips • hard boiled egg • black or green olives

• A mixture of some of the above can be used for a homemade trail mix.

2. Fill birthday party goody bags with homemade or lower fat baked goods, like:

• mini corn muffins • marshmallow-cereal treats
• peanut butter filled crackers • applesauce brownies
• oatmeal raisin cookies • zucchini bread

3. Let child decorate small plastic containers with lids, such as Rubbermaid, with favorite stickers, then use to stock single portions of favorite foods, like:

• macaroni & cheese • fresh fruit salad • mashed potatoes
• yogurt parfaits • tuna or turkey salad • tomato soup
• fruited gelatin • vegetable dip • rice pudding

4. Recycle clever containers for use at meals or snacks for a surprise:

• Chinese take-out cartons • colorful plastic Easter eggs
• plastic produce baskets • camping canteen & mess kit
• frozen meal divided plates • movie theater popcorn box

5. Make eating more fun with "Dining Accessories":

• individual condiment packets • comic strip place mats
• frilly toothpicks • baby photo place markers
• hors d'oeurve forks • op bead napkin rings
• cookie cutter food • holiday paper plates & cups