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By Cassandra Becker

star shapesIt’s nearing the end of summer and time for that last summer hurrah. But if you are like most families, it’s also time to start getting ready for your kids to go back to school. Summer offered lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, which might have made it easier to serve nutritious meals and snacks. But let’s not let that summer momentum dwindle in the coming months!  With school starting, it’s more important than ever to make sure your kids get the proper nutrition to fuel their bodies and their brains. Here are some quick and easy healthy lunch ideas and tips that even the toughest critic will enjoy.  (Remember to include a cold-pack in the lunch bag to keep these meals chilled and safe to eat.)

Super Shapes – Give it a shape!  Kids love fun-looking food. Make nutritious food fun and new by giving old foods a different shape!  Use cookie cutters for heart-shaped sandwiches or star-shaped watermelon.  Cut a sandwich into four squares or a whole-wheat pita into triangles.

Sandwiches on a Stick—Everything is more fun to eat when you put it on a stick!  Use the same concept of kabobs to make these sandwiches.  Provide a skewer, meat, vegetables, cheese, and your choice of toppings. Help your kids put together their own kabobs. Try putting fresh fruit or veggies on a stick as well.

Colorful Mac & Cheese—Who doesn’t love mac & cheese? Add some color and nutrition by tossing in broccoli, tomatoes, asparagus, and all of your other favorite fall vegetables. Remember to use whole-wheat pasta and low-fat cheese and milk.

So now that you know what to pack your kids for lunch, you can celebrate that last little bit of summer, prepared for what the fall may bring!

Cassandra Becker is a dietetic intern from Tufts University.

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