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Do you have suggestions for nutritious brown bag lunches?

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Healthy foods can help children do their best in school, but getting kids to eat good-for-you foods can sometimes be a trick.

Consider these tips to jazz up a lunch, while also keeping nutritional value in place.

Include an apple, orange, pear, kiwi, mango, star fruit, banana, a box of raisins or grapes rather than a fruit roll up or fruit chews. Send 1 percent milk in place of 2 percent. Send vegetables with dip, or mix chopped vegetables with cream cheese and place on a bagel.

Use whole grain bread when possible. Try pita bread, wraps, tortillas and bagels. Variety can make a difference. Leftover waffles with cream cheese, peanut butter or even egg salad are a new change. Try macaroni salads, ants on a log (peanut butter on celery topped with raisins), salsa and chips, or meat and cheese. Cut leftover chicken into strips and pack with dippers of ranch dressing, barbecue sauce or mustard sauce. Pack baked chips, pretzels, air popped popcorn or dry cereal. Limit sweets to once or twice a week. Help your children get used to eating fruit. Freeze pudding, which also helps keep other foods cool. Send packets of 100 percent juice. Be cautious since some juice is only 10 percent juice with added sugar. For a change and added nutrition, send a yogurt drink. Place an ice pack in the lunch box. Keeping foods cold will reduce the chance of food-borne illness and will help keep foods fresh.

Provide hand wipes and remind children to use them before eating. Surprise your child occasionally with a love note, a joke, riddle or treat. Remember to include one food item with protein (meat, cheese or egg), one carbohydrate item (roll, bread, pita, crackers), and at least one fruit and one vegetable for each lunch. To make your job easier, let your children give menu ideas and help with shopping for lunches.

Posted on 14 Nov 2005

Carolyn Washburn
Family and Consumer Science and 4-H Agent, Washington County

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