Prepared school food can be pricey, and schools often offer less than healthy choices. While a peanut butter sandwich and a cookie may be a common bag lunch, it's far from the only lunch choice. Fix yourself healthy, appealing foods to pack in your lunch bag. Add a freezer pack or a frozen juice box to help keep the ingredients cool and you'll enjoy a fresh and tasty lunch that feeds your interest as well as your body.
Switch up your sandwich daily to keep your interest and to vary the nutrition. Try putting sandwich fillings in pita bread, rolled in flatbread or tortillas or piled onto multi-grain rolls. Choose low-fat turkey, chicken or ham and add interesting ingredients like turkey pepperoni, romaine lettuce, mashed avocado or sun-dried tomatoes. Package juicy vegetables separately to keep the sandwich from being soggy, and build your sandwich at lunch time.
Invest in a thermos bottle to keep food hot until it's time for lunch. Pour in your favorite soup and add a small sandwich to go with it. Bring chili and crackers, stew and chunks of crusty bread, leftover chicken lo mein or pasta from last night's dinner. Fill the thermos with hot water, and then pour it out to pre-heat the interior. Eat hot food from a thermos no more than seven hours after you pack it, or less if the manufacturer recommends it.
Vary the ingredients you add to basic lettuce and you can bring a different salad to school every day. Top a green salad with cubes of leftover chicken and pepper jack cheese. Make a gourmet fruit salad with chicken slices, apples, walnuts and bleu cheese. Spice up lunchtime with a taco salad by including turkey seasoned with dry spicy ranch dressing mix, peppers, tomatoes, salsa and low-fat cheddar. Bring a classic chef's salad with chopped hard-boiled egg, ham strips and Swiss cheese. Bring salad dressing in a separate container to keep the lettuce from getting soggy, or buy convenient, single-serving prepared salad dressing in shelf-stable packages for your lunch.
If you're more partial to snacks than to meals, give yourself a lunch made from different appetizers. Cube turkey, chicken or ham along with low-fat cheese. Add whole wheat crackers or pretzels. Slice vegetables into sticks and bite-sized slices and pack some ranch dressing for dipping. Cut fruit into pieces and use vanilla yogurt as a dipping sauce. Spread nut butter on apple and pear slices for dessert or pack a small bag of trail mix or almonds for munching.
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