Meadville Tribune

Our Health

August 12, 2013

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


MEADVILLE — Go green, save money

There are many packaged items at the store to choose from. However, these are more expensive and also produce a lot of paper, plastic and waste. Sure, sometimes you are time-stressed and want the convenience, but other times, consider your wallet and the environment and waste less by using reusable containers and flatware. The reusable containers also prevent the food item from getting smashed or bruised. Even using small, snack size zipper bags creates less waste than buying individually wrapped packages all of the time.

Raw veggies like baby carrots or bell pepper strips can be packaged into a small container. Go green and pour dip into reusable containers instead of buying packages that are often not completely used and thrown away.

Nuts. Put a few tablespoons of nuts into a small round container.

Use leftovers. A hard cooked egg or a leftover chicken drumstick is often welcome in a school lunch box. Some lunchrooms may allow students to microwave. If not, consider investing in a hot thermos.

Make your own yogurt parfait kits. Instead of buying the pre-made parfait or yogurt with ‘crunchies,’ buy large containers of low fat vanilla yogurt. Scoop some out into your reusable container, and pack granola, sliced fruit or fresh blueberries into small snack bags for your child to assemble at lunchtime.

Pack a homemade sandwich, fruit and cookie instead of relying on packaged lunch kits (there’s not only less waste, but a lot less sodium).

Try a Bento Box. These neat contraptions are partitioned containers that are reusable and pack each food group neatly into its spot. You can find one at numerous stores and online.

Small treats are OK

There is sort of a war on sugar going on. I’m awaiting the next one: the war on salt. Sugar is nutrient-free and an unnecessary part of your diet, but it tastes good and many foods containing it are enjoyable. Balance and moderation is important — choose the basic foods first (protein, grain, fruit, veggie, milk), then allow the treat. When you pack a treat into your child’s lunchbox, keep small portions in mind. Two cookies are enough, one cupcake, a one-ounce bag of chips, or a bite-size piece of candy will add some fun to your child’s lunchbox, but keep calories, sugar and sodium in check.

Rust, a local registered dietitian and author, can be contacted via her website,, or by emailing her at

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