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Friday, April 6, 2012

Healthy and Homemade School Lunches

By Melissa

The boring brown bag lunches of my youth have been replaced with fun, healthy and homemade lunches. There is a whole industry dedicated to lunch-sized snacks including pre-made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, kid-sized granola bars and individual bags of chips, fruits and veggies. While these items may be convenient, they aren’t always the healthiest choices and they certainly aren’t the least expensive options. It is surprisingly easy to make your own healthy school lunch snacks and your children will thank you for the effort.

Sandwich or a Wrap

Crustless sandwiches are popular right now and you can easily make your child’s favorite sandwich sans crust with a simple cookie cutter. Although you can find a crustless sandwich press that will not only remove the crusts but also seal the edges with a pretty pattern, I like the versatility of a cookie cutter. We have heart-shaped sandwiches for Valentine’s Day and clover-shaped sandwiches for St. Patrick’s Day.  The possibilities are nearly endless.

A popular sandwich alternative in our house is a wrap. Multi-grain tortillas are a favorite – simply spread your favorite sandwich toppings on the tortilla, roll it up and cut it into bite-sized pieces.  

Homemade Granola Bars

My two children love the granola bar aisle at the grocery store. Something about the ability to choose from dozens of different flavors and brands really draws them in. Personally, I prefer to make homemade granola bars. What I love about them is that I can dream up any flavor and make it. If the kids want pretzels and cranberries in their bars, I can make that. If they prefer almonds and blueberries, I can make that instead.  

Fellow Green Choices blogger Diane has posted a great homemade granola bar recipe that allows you to customize your ingredients no matter what your personal tastes.   

DIY Fruit

Although the bags of pre-sliced apples look enticing, it really only takes a few minutes to slice up a whole apple yourself. If your children prefer a little more variety at lunchtime, you can also create your own lunch-sized container of cocktail fruit. Buy oranges, grapes, peaches and pears, cut them into bite sized pieces, and pack them in a small Ziploc® Brand reusable container.

Homemade school lunches definitely don’t have to be boring nor do they have to take a lot of time to prepare. The granola bars and fruit can easily be made a few days ahead and stored in an airtight container.

What is your child’s favorite homemade school lunch treat? What tips do you have?

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