Back to school|It’s in the bag

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Back-to-School brims with new beginnings even though the old routines are still valued, such as putting together the daily school lunch. Kids develop new tastes and interests as they grow and change during the summer months, so by the fall, something as favorite as a trusted PB&J combo seems downright boring.

It’s time to brighten up those brown-bag goodies with some simple changes. Jazz up all your child’s favorites by thinking through bread choices and complementary condiments. Slice some apples for that PB&J sandwich and put them between raisin bread or cranberry-walnut slices.

A plain turkey sandwich with plain mayo might also make eyes roll this season, so consider the wide range of interesting deli meats available today. Try combining maple glazed honey turkey or ham with Munster on a soft roll. Add a smear of cranberry jelly and a sprinkle of sunflower seeds for crunch. Deli meats are also flavored with hickory smoke, Cajun spices and even South-of-the-border peppers for the more adventurous young palates.

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Here are more tips for pepping up lunches and snacks that travel to school or are enjoyed at home:

• Add color and texture: orange carrot sticks and green grapes brighten the meal while whole wheat pretzels and crackers add crunch. Slip green pepper slices inside a wrap or sandwich — children will eat healthier without realizing it!

• Make brown bag lunch fun. Younger children love the do-it-yourself aspect of building their own pizza or cracker stack creations. Turn fun into healthy, too, with cubes of Boar’s Head meats and cheeses packed in a lunch bag along with some low-salt crackers.

• Pack an extra half sandwich for the active athlete in the family. Before a workout, eating a ham, cheese and veggie combo on half a roll is a great way for your soccer or baseball player to keep fueled up during long after-school practices.

• Kids often come home hungry. Be prepared with some rolled up Boar’s Head meats and cheeses and condiment dips to hold them over until mealtime.

• Since kids will eat what’s available in the cupboard or fridge, take charge when deciding which foods to stock in the house. Encourage healthy in-between snacks with a bowl of washed fruit on the kitchen counter, or keep cut up vegetables in the refrigerator alongside a healthy dip.

Some great lunchtime options include cookie-cutter sandwiches. Try using cookie cutters to create desired shapes like teddy bears and rabbits or hearts and even children’s initials. In addition, try wrap sandwiches or a healthy twist on home-style chicken and tuna salad.

Roll-ups are also a great way to get children to enjoy lunch time. Let your child choose his or her favorite deli meats such as ham or turkey, roll them up with any variety of sliced cheeses and then include a container of honey mustard or barbecue sauce for dipping.

Visit for more recipes to help you create satisfying lunches your children will love.