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Brown Bag Lunches

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It's back to school time which means it's also back to routine and the crazy morning rush. Even if your kids are too young for the big kids school yet, there's a different groove to the day and with the start of new programs, lunch is often taken on the go.
With one of the most common complaints by parents being what to pack in those darn lunches-here are some ideas for you.
 
Cool vs. Healthy
 
Lunch not only needs to be a good enough from a nutrition standpoint, but also needs the cool factor for those over the shoulder onlookers, who might pass comment on what's being eaten.
 
Well I believe that there are ways to get the best of all worlds (health, cool factor and simplicity for the person making the lunch). Stats show that children who eat well - balanced meals throughout the day are more confident, behave better and have better focus in the classroom, or noticeably less meltdowns for the younger ones.
Here's some tips that I hope will inspire parents in the kitchen leading to inspired kids in the classroom (and of course save time and money... two huge priorities for any family).
 
Hail the wrap!
 
Try out a wrap with goat's cheese or pressed cottage cheese (higher in protein) and fruit spread rather than the typical bagel and cream cheese. Benefit - lower on glycemic index - keep moods stable and kids fuller, longer.
 
Stuffed pita pockets are easy for little hands to manage.
 
Fill with any of these:
 
healthy hummus or bean dip and grated carrot
pressed cottage cheese and sweet corn
chicken or turkey slices with spinach, apple butter and mustard
tuna and sweet corn and a little salad dressing of your choice
tuna/salmon mayonnaise and sliced or chopped cucumber
grated cheese and red peppers
 
Quesadillas - could incorporate leftovers (chopped up meat and veggies) from night before. Always enjoyed, warm or cold. You can hide as many veggies as you want inside thanks to yummy melted cheese and serve with homemade guacamole or bean spread.
 
It's all about the Thermos! From noodles with pesto or homemade tomato sauce laced with chopped veggies, that might pass for the staple ‘Spaghetti O's' only heartier and healthier, to chunky soups with tons of vegetables, to pad Thai style noodle dishes and stir fry rice.
 
Fastest lunch in a flash is a muffin (not masquerading as a cupcake) with a couple of pieces of cheese and some raw peppers or other favourite raw veggie.

Keep it in Balance

 
To get the balance that will keep your budding genius going, be sure to have a good amount of protein (any meat, dairy, cheese, fish, nuts, seeds, quinoa, lentils, beans, or eggs) in combination with carbohydrates, fruits and vegetables.
Balancing with one half of the lunch with fruit or vegetables, one-quarter protein and the last quarter with carbohydrates (from bread, rice, pasta, potatoes or anything made from grains).
 
Fluids
Rather than sending off a juice box every day, try to send a re-usable drink container with diluted juice or water in it. Start slowly with adding water though, otherwise you might have it come home untouched.
 
Plan It
 
Plan the lunches for the week by writing down a weekly meal plan and see where you can offer leftovers for lunch the next day. Talk about what's on the menu with your kids and have their input so they feel apart of it. Lay down some ground rules with that too - if they know what's planned, no complaints, swapping or dumping allowed!
 
At the beginning of the school year, write down the keepers and keep that list safe! It will get you out of a bind on many a morning when you don't have a clue what to put in their lunch.

Start your list here... share your first successful packed lunch?

Lianne Phillipson-Webb is the founder of Sprout Right, a company that specializes in pre-conception, prenatal, and postnatal nutrition for women, as well as good food and health for the whole family. With over ten years of experience, Lianne is a registered nutritionist, author, member of the International Organization of Nutrition Consultants, and mother of two.

Visit her site here