Easy, healthy lunch box makeovers

From fast food offerings to soda machines, today’s kids are faced with a lot of unhealthy options at lunchtime, says nutritionist Leanne Ely, author of the Saving Dinner book series.

So what can parents do? They can pack a better lunch, that’s what. Here are Ely’s top five tips:

Wipe out white bread. Breads made with whole grains are better sources of fiber and keep your kids feeling full longer.

Be choosier with cheese. Try swapping out high fat cheese with soy-based Veggie Slices, which taste like real cheese so kids won’t know the difference.

Don’t skimp on fruit. Swap fruit for the sugary snacks that cause kids’ energy levels to nosedive mid-afternoon. Bananas are great; pack it on the very top and wrap in a napkin for protection.

Skip the chips. Baked tortilla chips are a good option or even better are baked pita chips, which are easy to make at home.

Be choosey about beverages. Get your child into the habit of drinking water. Try freezing a bottle of water instead of the usual juice box and flavored drinks. Skip soda altogether. The bottle will keep the lunch box cold and will be thawed by lunchtime.

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