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3 ways to pack a healthier lunch

Prepare your kids with energy-sustaining foods

We all know after the first school bell rings, the race is on. Busy schedules get even busier, the days get shorter and packing healthy lunches can become more challenging.

1. Think Outside the Lunchbox

Take the pressure off building the perfect lunch by thinking in terms of food groups instead of traditional foods. You might picture a sandwich with a side of fruit and milk as the standard, for example, but as long as you’re including at least three food groups — fruits, veggies, whole grains, and protein and dairy — you can get away with catering more to your child’s tastes. This might mean cheese and whole grain crackers instead of a sandwich, for instance.

2. Include New Foods

It’s good to introduce new foods early on to promote healthy eating practices. Eating a variety of different colored fruits and vegetables and different types of grains is the best way to get the nutrients needed for good health and sustained energy. Have your child choose a new fruit to try or blend greens, such as spinach into a fruit smoothie.

3. Choose Smart Snacks

Look for snacks that provide nutrients such as fiber or protein, with little to no added sugar. In addition to fresh produce, some quick lunchbox-friendly foods include raisins, granola, popcorn, Kind fruit bars (some of which also include vegetables like carrots and beets), graham crackers with peanut butter and yogurt pouches.

Sample Lunch Ideas

Healthy lunches don’t have to be complicated. Check out these simple options.

• Hy-Vee whole grain waffle and peanut butter sandwich, mandarin orange fruit cup, sugar snap peas and string cheese.

• KIND Healthy Grains Cinnamon Oat Bar, yogurt, and baby carrots with hummus.

• 1 turkey wrap, bell pepper strips with dip, and grapes.

• Whole grain crackers, meat and cheese with sliced cucumbers.

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