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Time to Pack Lunches Again

School starts soon, so get your lunchtime game plan together.

School starts soon, which means it's time for new school supplies and a plan for packing healthy lunches.

If you have a plan in place and are organized, sending your kids to school with a healthy lunch can be one of the easier parts of your morning routine.  This is true especially if you prepare most of it the night before while cleaning the dinner dishes. 

While each lunchbox typically holds a sandwich with either cold cuts or peanut butter and jelly (for those who are not at a nut-free school), there are other options to consider.  Instead of a sandwich, perhaps a lettuce, turkey and cheese roll-up or a veggie-packed wrap.  Another option is sliced cheese and crackers. 

I haven't had much luck with sending an insulated container with hot food in it, but I know quite a few others who have done it successfully.  Reheated leftovers from last night's dinner or even soup can be a great way to nourishn young bodies.  Just make sure your kids can open the container on their own before sending it in with them.

I am a big fan of squeezable yogurt.  Be sure to buy a brand that has no high fructose corn syrup. And send it frozen, so the yogurt helps keep the lunch cold.  It will thaw by lunchtime, so your student can enjoy a cold treat.

Next, I like to keep a variety of fruit and vegetable options on hand so that each day I can give the kids something different.  Small bags of grapes, hulled strawberries, carrot sticks or sliced kiwi or cucumber are great choices.  Have your kids try some new fruits and vegetables before school starts so that you have more options when packing lunches. 

Sending in fresh fruit and vegetables is perfect at this time of year because farmers markets are still open.  Once they close, head to the Route 10 Farmers Market in Livingston, which is open year-found.

There are a number of convenience foods that are fine to pack with lunch: cereal and granola bars, muffins, veggie chips, and various cookies.  You can often find these items on sale, and coupons can bring the price down further, making stocking up that much easier.

Parsippany has one nut-free elementary school, so be sure to check for your school's guidelines before purchasing lunchbox items.  With a fully stocked pantry, making lunches will be the least of your worries when getting ready for school each morning.

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