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Fruits and veggies are key to a nutritious lunch. To make it more fun, include a dip, even if this means ketchup. Serve mini carrots or jicama with ranch dressing, slightly steamed broccoli with light mayo, or sliced apples (use lemon juice to keep them from browning) with peanut butter. Try frozen peas and corn, or offer half of a sweet potato with a sprinkle of brown sugar, or even slice it into circular shapes.
Make pancakes on Sunday and freeze the leftovers. You can warm them up and pack them up for a fun lunch. Scrambled eggs or a sliced boiled egg can be a hit too (remember the ice pack to prevent spoilage).
Lean protein is an important component of every lunch as protein helps kids stay focused and have energy for school. Instead of a regular sandwich every day, try adding some fun. One way is to cut sandwiches into whimsical shapes using cookie cutters. Sliced turkey, tuna, chicken or egg salad sandwiches can be cut into shapes tied to the season or school subjects (stars, moons, animals etc.). Another fun option is serving sliced meat and cheese rolled up into tubes, leaving out the bread, or tuna salad with crackers. Remember that bread doesn’t always have to be actual bread; it can be bagels or tortillas.
Boil mini penne or bowtie pasta, and throw on some pasta sauce. If you make it the night before, add a teaspoon of olive oil to prevent sticking. You could even use Top Ramen® noodles (but skip the flavoring packet since the sodium level is so high). Use these thin, curly noodles and serve them with peanut sauce or plain. During winter months, use a thermos to serve up warm noodles (boil them in vegetable broth and use about 1/3 of the liquid for added flavor).