Make school lunches healthy and fun with these easy brown bag lunch ideas. Transform classic lunches, from tuna to PB&J to turkey and cheese, into healthier recipes. Kids will also love the healthy snack ideas that will keep them full throughout the day.
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The simplest and healthiest foods stay extra-yummy when they’re tucked inside individual little compartments. That’s the idea behind Bentology, the company that sells these cute plastic sets. We filled the containers with a protein, some fruit, a vegetable, and a small treat — all in perfect-size portions for kids 5 to 8.
All Dressed Up
* 1 cup bow-tie pasta salad with veggies
* 1 cup baby greens salad with 2 tablespoons low-fat dressing
* 3/4 cup watermelon
* 2 fig cookies
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Catch of the Day
- Fish-shaped tuna sandwich with lettuce on whole wheat bread
- 10 baby carrots with 2 tablespoons low-fat ranch dip
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- 1/4 cup whole-grain Goldfish crackers
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- Ham, turkey, and cheese rolled up together, sliced, and skewered with pretzel sticks
- 1/2 cup mandarin oranges
- 1/2 cup shelled edamame
- 1 container (4 ounces) fat-free chocolate pudding
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Healthy Lunch Ideas for Kids
Check out our tips for simple ways to upgrade your child’s sandwiches.
- Sliced hard-boiled egg and 2 mini whole-grain waffles
- Bell-pepper strips
- 1 sliced kiwi fruit mixed with a few blackberries
- Mini corn muffin
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- String cheese and a handful of whole wheat crackers
- 1 cup broccoli and cauliflower florets with 2 tablespoons light raspberry dressing
- 1/2 cup blueberries
- Slice of banana bread
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- 1 cup bean salad
- 1/2 cup melon wedges
- Handful of whole-grain tortilla chips with 2 tablespoons salsa
- 8 cubes of reduced-fat cheddar cheese
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How to Choose a Lunchbox
With so many lunch boxes on the market it can be hard to know what to buy. In this video we provide the pros and cons of many popular options.
Hole New PB&J
- Peanut butter and jelly on a whole wheat mini bagel
- 3/4 cup cherry tomatoes with 2 tablespoons low-fat Caesar dressing
- 1/2 cup pineapple chunks
- 4 mini oatmeal cookies
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- 1 slice leftover cold veggie pizza cut into squares
- 3/4 cup cucumber moons with 2 tablespoons hummus
- 1/2 cup purple grapes
- 1/2 cup popcorn
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- 2 mini whole wheat pita pockets with grilled-chicken strips and veggies
- 3/4 cup low-fat vanilla yogurt with sliced strawberries
- 1/2 cup sugar snap peas
- 8 animal crackers
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Healthy Snacks: Why Kids Need to Snack
Snacking is important for active kids. Find out why and get easy ideas for healthy, appealing snacks.
After-School Snack Mixes: Sesame Sticks
These creative combos add up to one-of-a-kind after-school treats.
Sesame sticks + chopped cereal-nut bars + dried pineapple
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After-School Snack Mixes: Pita Chips
Mini pita chips + soy nuts + mini chocolate chips
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After-School Snack Mixes: Mini Pretzels
Mini pretzels twists + cashews + dried cranberries
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After-School Snack Mixes: Low-Fat Granola
Low-fat granola + sunflower seeds + dried apricots
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After-School Snack Mixes: Dried Papaya
Dried papaya + whole-grain cereal + golden raisins
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After-School Snack Mixes: Almonds
Almonds + M&M’s + dried mango
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Courtesy of TrueNorth Snacks
Best New Snacks for School: TrueNorth Peanut Clusters
Round out your kid’s lunch with healthy, ready-to-go products.
These nuggets of freshly roasted nuts are ideal for slow eaters. Six pieces contain 170 calories and 5 grams of protein ($3.50 for a 5-1/2-ounce bag).
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Kids throw away over $1 billion of school lunch food every year. Find out what goes into the trash.
Courtesy of Backman Snax
Best New Snacks for School: Bachman The Puzzle Pretzels
Puzzle-shaped pretzels come in large and individual-size bags ($17 for six 12-ounce bags).
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Courtesy of Lundberg Family Farms
Best New Snacks for School: Lundberg Family Farms Baked Rice with a Twist
These crunchy twists in child-friendly flavors like white cheddar and ranch are made from brown rice and packed with whole grains ($3 for a 4-1/2-ounce bag).
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Courtesy of Back to Nature Foods
Best New Snacks for School: Back to Nature Granola to Go
Toss a mini bag of this granola — along with a container of yogurt and a piece of fruit — into your child’s lunchbox. Kids will probably like the honey-almond variety the best ($4 for five 1-1/2-ounce bags).
Originally published in the September 2008 issue of Parents magazine.
- Learn More About Backtonaturefoods.com
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