Healthy Swaps: School Lunches

by in Back to School, Healthy Recipes, Healthy Tips, Kid-Friendly, August 31, 2010
Oatmeal Cookies
Oatmeal Cookies - Photo Courtesy Food Network Magazine

We’re celebrating Back To School week on Healthy Eats, and we know that packing a healthy noon meal that your kids will actually eat can be tricky. We took a look at some less-than-healthy school lunch staples and gave them an upgrade. Tuck these better (but still yummy) options into your little one’s lunchbox.

Instead of: Bologna and mayo on white bread
Turkey and cheese on wheat bread
The Payoff: Less fat, more protein and calcium from cheese, and extra fiber from whole grain bread – a lunchtime trifecta!

Instead of: Pudding cups
Choose: Greek yogurt with a swirl of honey or jam
The Payoff: No preservatives, less sugar and a calcium and protein boost

Instead of: Fruit snacks
Choose: Homemade fruit leather
The Payoff: More real fruit and no artificial colors or flavors

Instead of: Fried chicken nuggets
: Baked chicken fingers
The Payoff: Less fat and grease and more protein

Instead of: Snack Cakes and cupcakes
Choose: An oatmeal raisin cookie
The Payoff: Cookies are portioned controlled (one is all you need), fiber from oats and natural sweetness from raisins

TELL US: What lunchbox upgrades do you make?

Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition. See Dana’s full bio »

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Comments (89)

  1. feastonthecheap says:

    These are great swaps, but I'm not sure any kiddos I know are daring enough for Greek yogurt, even if it's sweetened with honey. Maybe a lower sugar organic vanilla yogurt…. Love the fruit leather – still eating that as a grown up!

  2. Blah says:

    I'm deffinetly going to try all of these except for the greek yogurt. I don't think a kid would like or eat that.
    But the rest are great!!

  3. […] via Healthy Eats » Archive » Healthy Swaps: School Lunches. […]

  4. Marissa says:

    With four girls in the house I find buying large containers of yogurt and Special K granola cereal and great breakfast go tos when we are in a hurry. I portion them in 4oz containers the night before with a little baggie of granola. In the morning they can just grab them out of the fridge. It also works for the luch box.

  5. Anne says:

    My kids will eat the flavored greek yogurt (strawberry/peach)…

    Other of my favorite lunches are:
    egg salad sammies: usually on wheat, somtimes on wheat crackers
    ham and cream cheese rolls
    ham/turkey cheese crackers held together with a little cream cheese
    fresh almond butter/jelly sammies…sometime do crackers instead
    wheat pasta shells, chicken, mayo, black olives, peas…cold pasta salad

    tried "tea part sammies" once- with cream cheese, thin wheat bread and thinly sliced cucumbers…that didn't go well.

    I would love to hear other suggestions- my kids probably get tired of eating the same old thing.

  6. Lindsay W. says:

    My daughter loves "Turkey Pinwheels" Flour or wheat tortilla spread with cream cheese, layered with turkey, cheese and romaine lettuce…rolled up and cut into pinwheels!
    Another good snack or lunch box treat is pretzels with peanut butter to dip (jiff makes small to go containers) good protein, healthy and and easy to eat! Perfect!

  7. Lisa B. says:

    Leftovers in a thermos work well. Spaghetti with whole grain noodles and spinach is a favorite for my kids.

  8. Lace says:

    My son loves whole wheat pasta with Basil Pesto

  9. Tammy says:

    lots of really good ideas on this website! Even for adults ~

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