Dinner Diva: Extreme Makeover-Lunchbox Edition

When packing a lunch for your kids to take to school, don’t even mention the word “lunchable” or I’ll cringe. I don’t care how easy it is to buy a pre-made and pre-packed lunch like that. I promise that all the junk, sugar, and fat you can find in those won’t make them worth it. So ditch the Lunchables.

It’s time for a makeover! And after those Lunchables, I want you to dispose of any fruit roll-ups, fruit gushers, and any other gummy fruit snack. Get rid of the Trix yogurt, I don’t care how often the commercial tries to convince you that “Trix are for kids.” And please, no bologna sandwiches on white bread. If I don’t even know everything they put in that so-called “meat” then it’s something that should be left untouched. And as far as chips are concerned, we should all know better with all those saturated oils.

So what should you put in your children’s lunch? Easy, I’ll give you a list of substitutes for all the items that I dismissed.

1. Instead of all those over-processed gummy fruit snacks, give your kids real fruit! Throw in a banana or some berries. Whatever fruit is in season and on sale in the store! That’ll stock your kid’s belly full of antioxidants and natural sugars that’ll quench the sweet tooth.

2. Trix yogurt is more of a trick than a treat. It’s only full of artificial food coloring, sugar, and artificial flavors. All of which are going to keep your child craving other artificial and sugary foods and make them more lazy and lethargic instead of energetic and happy the way kids are supposed to be. So grab the natural yogurts. It’s easy to tell them apart because they’ll have labels like “real fruit” attached to them. Always double-check the ingredients to confirm that, however.

3. And when you pack a sandwich, avoid white bread and mystery meats. Look for breads that aren’t bleached. I wrote an article on how to pick the right bread if you want to look that up for a more detailed guide (http://savingdinner.com/articles/truth-bread/). Also, use meat that doesn’t have any additives. How do you know if it has additives? The same way you know anything does, check the ingredients! I can’t stress enough how important it is to know what you’re consuming instead of blindly picking something off the shelf.

4. An easy substitute for chips would be whole grain crackers (again, check ingredients), or veggies! Even if you do opt for the crackers, I would include some sort of vegetable regardless. Your children are going to keep growing and developing all the way through high school and are always needing antioxidants and the vitamins found in vegetables. Don’t forget to keep it fun and colorful!

So there you go! Always remember that there is a healthy substitute for any nutritionally lacking lunchbox item.

More from Dinner Diva Leanne Ely at www.SavingDinner.com.

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