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Our Health

August 12, 2013

Tips you can use — local expert walks you through packing healthy school lunch and making healthy snacks

MEADVILLE — Dare I say back to school? It’s August already, and in a few weeks, lunches will need to be packed again, and after-school snacks planned for. Keep it simple — pack a protein, a grain, a fruit and/or vegetable, and an occasional small treat. Encourage your child or teen to buy milk with lunch every day. Have fresh fruit, cheese and crackers, cereal with milk, nuts or a sandwich available for after school snacks. Involve your kids — you don’t have to do all the work. Even young children can begin to help pack lunches or get items ready the night before.

What should you have in your pantry come Aug. 27?

Lean meats (baked ham, roast turkey, tuna fish)

Peanut butter. It’s a simple staple protein source that requires no refrigeration. Go for natural types or brands with limited ingredients. Peanuts should be the first ingredient

Whole wheat bread and wraps. Use small whole-wheat tortillas or flat wraps. Add a spread of cream cheese, a slice of ham or turkey, a lettuce leaf, and roll up. You can also refrigerate ahead, and then slice into pinwheels in the morning. Pack with an ice pack. If your child is going through the “I don’t like crust” phase, just trim it off. They will eat more of the sandwich if you trim ahead than if they eat around the crust.

Cheese chunks. Cube cheese and place in a reusable container. Pack with apple slices or grapes and whole grain crackers.

Fresh or packaged fruit. Large bags of apples are usually more economical. Look for smaller apples to avoid waste. Bananas ripen quickly and can get “mushy” in a lunch box, so they may not be ideal. Grapes and berries travel well in small plastic containers. Slice oranges into four wedges for quick and easy eating. Flavored or cinnamon applesauce has more added sugars, so choose those once in a while, and choose unsweetened applesauce more frequently.

Veggies — baby carrots, cucumber slices, pepper slices, celery sticks. Add baby spinach leaves or chopped lettuce to wraps or sandwiches.

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