With the unpredictable nature of our day to day lives, preparing and packing a healthy lunchbox can be a difficult task. Finding time to shop and prepare interesting and healthy meals for school lunches can be stressful. But the foods we send to school with our kids can contribute up to one-third of their daily intake of nutrients. So its important to pack a balanced lunch to ensure they're getting the nutrients they need.

Some lunchbox tips include:

  • Prepare vegetables and fruits the night before to save time.
  • Add healthy sides such as unsweetened applesauce, cheese sticks made with low-fat milk, crackers, nuts, low-fat yogurt and fruit or veggie cups.
  • Use portion boxes or containers to keep servings at an ideal level.
  • Thinking outside the sandwich-- while sandwiches are quick and easy, adding variety is key for both adults and kids when it comes to eating healthy.

How to properly pack a lunch:

What you pack in the lunch box is important, so is the storing process used to ensure the food you pack is safe.

  • Use an insulated box or bag instead of a paper bag.
  • Before eating, children should wash their hands for 20 seconds or the equivalent time for singing their ABCs twice.
  • If possible, store the child's lunch in a refrigerator at home and have them store it in a refrigerator at school.
  • If packing a hot lunch, like soup, chili or stew, use an insulated container to keep it hot.

To get the picky eaters to eat, have them be involved in the lunch-making process. The more involved they are the less likely they will waste food.

Plan your meal ahead of time. Whether you are sending a sandwich or leftovers from dinner the night before, make a plan for the week so you can streamline the process and save time during the week. If you go grocery shopping on the weekend, take a few minutes when you get home to rinse fruits and veggies and pack them into containers or baggies, so you can grab and go during the week.

Rethink your drink choices. Although juice boxes are highly popular, fruit juice can contain as much sugar as regular soda. Water and milk are still the best beverages for kids. If your child really enjoys flavored drinks, try infusing water with fruit such as oranges, strawberries, pineapple or watermelon.

Some quick healthy snacks to add to a lunch box include:

  • Hummus cups
  • Guacamole cups
  • Whole grain crackers (even the whole grain Ritz)
  • Fruit cups packed in water or own Juices
  • Pretzel Sticks
  • Skinny Pop
  • Jerkey
  • String Cheese
  • Veggies
  • Fresh Fruit
  • All Natural Peanut Butter
  • Fruit Leather
  • Hard Boiled Eggs
  • Cottage Cheese
  • Edamame
  • Seaweed
  • Unsweetened Apple Sauce Cups

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