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Nutritious lunches for back to school

Updated: Thursday, August 29 2013, 07:46 AM CDT
Reported by: Brandie Meng
Posted by: Sara Small (

Lunchtime: one of the favorite times during a school day for kids, but for some parents packing school lunches can be an added headache in the morning.

However, Sylvia Warner says it doesn't have to be.

She is a nutritionist for Giant Food Stores.

She says back to school lunches can be nutritious, creative, affordable and fun to put together.

Warner follows the "My Plate" guidelines when looking for ideas of what to pack.

"Half of the lunch box should be fruits and veggies," she says.

Which also includes 1/4 plate of grains and 1/4 plate of protein.

She recommends staying away from individually packed snacks.

By portioning things yourself, she says you control the price as well as the serving size.

"You can save so much money. 20-50 percent depends what the item is. You are paying for packaging when you buy the 100 calorie packs."

She stresses it is important to check the nutrition fact panel for things like the amount of sugar in the items you send with your child.

"If it's over 10 then look at the ingredients and see where is the sugar coming from. Look for things like dextrose, sucrose, high fructose corn syrup, those sweeteners can really put the sugars up."

And a packed lunch does not mean a sandwich each day.

"The meatball mozzarella kabobs is using meat balls from the night before," she says using a coffee stir instead of a wood stick can be a safer option when putting various kabobs together.

A creative presentation doesn't mean a lot of time in the kitchen either.

Sprinkling some shredded carrots onto a peanut butter sandwich can jazz up both the look and the nutrition.

And the cost for any of these lunches is the same or less than the average school lunch meal.

"Anywhere from $1.30--$1.90, it depends on what it is."

Above all, she says know what your child's likes and dislikes are and keep a variety of ideas on hand.

The most successful packed lunches include input from the one who will ultimately eat it.

"The more you can get children involved shopping and preparing the more likely it is they will eat their lunch."

Nutritious lunches for back to school

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