Brilliant Lunch-Box Ideas

Alternatives to the Ordinary Lunch

Down on the Farm

Your toddler or preschooler will love eating an animal-shaped sandwich. Make a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich, then cut out a cow, pig, or duck shape with a cookie cutter. Pack in a lunch box along with some low-sugar cereal mix and small containers of applesauce and milk.

Brown-Bag Bonanza

On extra-busy mornings, you can throw lunch together in a flash using prepackaged products you've already got in your kitchen: 2 Babybel cheeses, some whole-grain crackers, a mini fruit cup, a baby banana, and a small container of orange juice.

Ham-and-Cheese Hot Dog

Plain old ham and cheese is much more fun to eat when it's in the shape of a hot dog. Stack 3 slices of low-fat ham. Place a cheese stick on the edge of the ham slices and roll up. Place in a hot-dog bun, and add a little mustard, if desired. To round out the meal, include fruit, some pretzels, and milk.

Do-It-Yourself Lunch

Here's a healthy alternative to a sandwich: a smorgasbord of finger foods that your child can put together any way he wants. We packed 3 mini whole-wheat pitas, 2 sesame bread sticks, some baby carrots, 1/3 cup hummus in a small resealable container, 1 white and 1 yellow cheese stick (cubed), and seedless red and green grapes.

Sandwich Switcheroo

Are your kids tired of the same old sandwich? Try one of these instead.

Instead of PB&J, make Peanut butter with apples

Instead of Turkey with mayo, make Turkey with French Dressing

Instead of Tuna salad with celery, make Chicken salad with grapes

Instead of Bologna, make Chicken hot dog

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