Remember the days when your mom brown bagged your lunch? Most likely it consisted of the typical PB & J, chips, cookie and sugary drink. With all of the processed food, allergies and hunger pains kids have today, a boring, uninspiring and not to mention less-than-nutritious lunch just won’t cut it.

A quick, easy and affordable homemade lunch will keep the kids (and mom) happy and energized all day.

The Main Course

Reinvent the Sandwich – Sandwiches are the quintessential lunchbox staple, but there are so many simple ways to sneak in nutrients while providing variety.

Peanut Power: Using peanut butter with less sugar and no preservatives or those with peanut allergies substituting with delicious cashew or almond butter, and topping with fresh fruit slices like bananas.

Pump up the protein: Use hummus instead of processed deli meat. It’s full of protein and you can add slices of avocado and tomato plus lettuce for crunch.

Sweet and Savory: Switch up your sandwich by adding a surprise ingredient like fruit. Take two slices of wheat bread, add a few tablespoons of cottage cheese and sprinkle on pineapple chucks and blueberries.

Wrap it up! – Wraps are fun for kids to eat and very easy to make with last night’s leftovers. For a chicken BLT, use leftover chicken and throw in lettuce, tomatoes and easy microwavable turkey bacon.

Start Snackin’

Eat with your eyes – Kids eat with their eyes so choose colorful fruits and veggies. And fresh is always best!

Kids love playing with their food – Healthy dips and yogurt are great choices for the lunch box because children love eating with their hands!

Serving sizes – All types of snacks such pita chips and natural popcorn can be found in easy to send to school small packages. You can also create your own snack bags of plantain/banana chips, freeze dried fruit chips and rice cakes.

Know your children’s schedule – Choose snacks that are low in saturated fat and sugar and high in nutrients like low sugar yogurt, nuts, colorful veggies like carrot sticks, red, yellow or green bell pepper strips, fruit salad, cubes of low fat cheese, and guacamole with blue corn chips.

Beverages Keep Them Going All Day

Water- Kids should have a bottle or two for the day. Send an individual Crystal Light packet for your child to bring with their water bottle. They can create their own drink and drink flavored water instead of juice.

Send milk vs. a juice box. Milk has almost 8 times the protein than a juice box. If you send a juice box send healthy options made with fruit and vegetables or 100 percent juice.

For those who don’t like to eat their veggies make a fruit smoothie with celery and carrots in a reusable thermos. Kids won’t even taste it!

Pack It Properly

Make your child’s lunch in a re-useable lunch box with the food stored in sectioned off containers. This is not only eco-friendly but will also help to avoid squished sandwiches and broken snacks, and it will keep everything fresh and separate. Try to send items they can eat with their hands to eliminate plastic silverware.

Choose foods that can be left out at room temperature or get an icepack for your child’s lunch box.

Top it all off with a loving note which adds just the final ingredient to your child’s lunch.

*Article courtesy of BJ’s Wholesale Club. Image provided by Skip Hop.*