Mitzi Dulan – America's Nutrition Expert
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Back to School Nutrition: Packing Healthy Lunches
by Mitzi Dulan, RD, America’s Nutrition Expert®
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Today, my kiddos already have their first day of school! Back to school time is a bittersweet time for us parents. While we’re a little relieved that the hectic pace of summer pool time, baseball/softball games and sleepovers are winding down, some of us have moments of sadness (and joy!) that we won’t have our children around all day as they head back to school.

That’s why I make sure to make back-to-school prep time family time, whether it’s by having my daughters help choose healthy snacks and lunch items from the grocery store, or spending a day with them at the local farmers markets selecting fresh fruits and vegetables right before school begins session.

Here are some tips for packing lunches from home:

Go Green

  • Use inexpensive, reusable lunch bags to carry lunches rather than a brown paper bag every day. This is usually a fun time to pick out a new lunch bag at Target or Wal-Mart.
  • Reusable water bottles are a must have for the classroom so your little one can stay hydrated throughout the day. I know our school prefers the ones that don’t sweat so their desk doesn’t get wet.

Make it Colorful

  • Help your kids put together a colorful meal. Ask them for ideas to help eat the colors of the rainbow. Kids can be amazing when you give them a little more ownership of eating healthier. Include some brown from whole-wheat bread for sandwiches, red from apples, orange from carrots, yellow from eggs, green from cucumbers or spinach, etc.

Pack Extra

  • Add in an extra bag of fruits or nuts for an extra snack, in case an after-school activity comes up at the last minute.

Indulge their Sweet Tooth

  • …But just a little! Instead of packing sugar-filled (and unhealthy) treats like snack cakes and cookies, include a small bag of a delicious trail mix that they’ve put together themselves. M&Ms, chocolate chips, almonds, dried tart cherries…yum!

Make it Ritual

  • Instead of mad rushing in the morning, I like to take about 10 minutes the night before helping my kids put together the next day’s snacks and lunch whenever possible.
  • Put in a little note (to let you know how much you love them) or an extra piece of your child’s favorite snack to make Mondays (or Wednesdays, or whatever day your child dreads) a bit more special.

What do you do to make packing lunches fun?

Assistance provided by Pam Majumdar.

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