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Back to School: Packing a Healthy Lunch

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Packing a healthy lunch is the best way to provide your kids with the nutrients and energy they need to focus and do their best at school. Check out these easy and creative brown bag lunch options. So tasty, they won’t be traded away!

Week 1
Monday: Peanut butter and sliced apple (or banana) “quesadilla”

  • Spread 1 to 2 tablespoons of natural peanut butter or soy nut butter on a whole wheat tortilla. Top with apple or banana slices (or both!). Fold in half. Serve with a glass of low fat milk and a stick of string cheese.

Tuesday: Mexican chicken pita

  • Whole wheat pita filled with 2 to 3 ounces of chicken pieces (grilled or baked), lettuce, 2 tablespoons of shredded cheddar cheese and salsa. Serve with a low-fat yogurt and orange slices.

Wednesday: Turkey pretzel wrap

  • Two to three ounces of turkey pieces, avocado slices and pretzel sticks in a whole wheat wrap. Serve with baby carrots, cherry tomatoes and 2 tablespoons of low-fat ranch dressing for dipping.

Thursday: Salmon salad pita

  • Two to three ounces of canned wild salmon mixed with plain Greek yogurt and chopped celery in a whole wheat pita. Serve with baby carrots and grapes.

Friday: Pizza roll-ups

  • Whole wheat tortilla spread with tomato paste, topped with ¼ cup of shredded mozzarella cheese and baby spinach leaves. Roll and slice into pieces. Serve with bell pepper sticks and 2 tablespoons of hummus.

Week 2
Monday: Bell pepper, cucumber and cream cheese sandwich

  • Two tablespoons of reduced-fat cream cheese with chopped bell pepper and cucumber slices on 100% whole wheat bread. Serve with orange slices and a glass of low fat milk.

Tuesday: Egg salad and veggie pita

  • Mix a sliced hard-boiled egg with plain Greek yogurt, chopped bell peppers, tomatoes and shredded zucchini in a whole wheat pita. Serve with 2 graham crackers and apple slices (add a dash of lemon juice to avoid browning).

Wednesday: Dipping Day

  • Five to six 100% whole wheat crackers, baby carrots, celery and 2 tablespoons of soy nut butter. Serve with a low-fat yogurt and raisins.

Thursday: Hummus roll-ups

  • Whole wheat tortilla spread with 2 tablespoons of hummus, baby spinach leaves and shredded carrots. Roll and slice into pieces. Serve with a string cheese stick and ½ cup of fruit salad (cantaloupe, raspberries and watermelon)

Friday: Yogurt parfait

  • In an insulated thermos, make a parfait by layering plain or vanilla yogurt and chopped fresh fruit like berries, apples, bananas or peaches. Serve with whole grain cereal or 1 to 2 tablespoons of granola as a topping.

Test Your Knowledge

1. Which is the most nutritionally balanced lunch?
a. One slice of pizza, diet soda and a cookie.
b. Turkey breast and cheese sandwich on 100% whole wheat bread, low-fat milk, baby carrots and apple slices.
c. Ham and cheese sandwich on white bread, Snapple and a candy bar.

b. Turkey breast and cheese sandwich on 100% whole wheat bread, low-fat milk, baby carrots and apple slices. This meal provides lean protein, whole grains, fruit, vegetables and calcium for growing bones!

2. True or False: Kids never eat what they bring for lunch – it ends up in the trash or traded with other kids.

Answer: False. Pack a healthy and appealing lunch and your kids will eat it and enjoy it!


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About the Author

Toby is a registered dietitian and a Certified Dietitian Nutritionist with over 15 years of experience in the food and nutrition industry. Toby is the founder of Toby Amidor Nutrition where she provides nutrition and food safety consulting services for various entities. She is a nutrition expert for where she writes for their Healthy Eating Blog and helps develop content and analyze the nutrition information for recipes. Toby is also the nutrition advisor for Sears’ FitStudio where she oversees the nutrition content and contributes nutrition articles to the FitStudio community. Toby has also written extensively, appeared on a variety of media oulets, counseled both in person and online, and has a great deal of teaching experience. Toby has written extensively and her publications list includes The All New Joy of Cooking (under Know Your Ingredients), where she helped compile information on over 300 foods. She was also a reviewer of the Jewish cultural food section of the web-based Nutrition Care Manual, which is compiled by The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics to help guide practitioners and Cultural Food Practices also published by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Other writing samples can be viewed here. She has appeared in a variety of media outlets including The Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Woman’s World Magazine, Today’s Dietitian Magazine,, Good Morning America Health, Good Day New York (WNYW Fox5 NY), Self Magazine, Us Weekly Magazine, WebMD, Pregnancy & Newborn Magazine, Working Mother Magazine, The New York Daily News, Fitness Magazine, and several articles published on Scripps Howard Foundation Wire. - See more at:

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