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Pack Lunches with Panache

It's that time of the year again, when kids stop complaining about summertime boredom and start complaining about what's in their lunchboxes. The easy way out might entail throwing an all-inclusive Lunchable in the box and calling it a day. But that Lunchable label isn't so lovely - those handy, precut meats and cheeses pack a ton of sodium and fat. Plus, sides like pudding, candy and sweetened drinks add a lot of sugar. PB&J gets old fast, and the same old chips offer the same old lack of nutrition.

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So what's a harried mom to pack? Include the kids when you plan meals - they can tell you what's going to get traded, trashed or eaten. If they insist on a Lunchable-type meal, then some healthy substitutions can be made - and your wallet will thank you, too. Sandwiches can get boring, so why not wrap them up instead? Use a tortilla or other flat bread to pack in your child's favorite fixings, like light cream cheese for a spread, spinach and ham or tomatoes. Choose whatever your child likes to increase the chances of him or her eating it; just be mindful of fattening spreads like mayonnaise. Keep portions in mind, too. Many of the restaurants that serve wraps use the largest size tortilla available and stuff them to capacity - some weigh more than a pound!


Make nutritious dinners and place warmed-up leftovers in a thermos-type container to stay hot for lunch.{relatedarticles}When kids get home, offer fruits and vegetables or baked chips and dip as snacks. All these tips work great for adult lunches, too!