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Family Nutrition & Health

Beat Brown Bag Boredom

As the school year winds down, parents and kids begin to tire of the routine of it all. Lunch is no exception. Try these strategies to keep the midday meal appealing. 

Plan lunches together
At least once a week, work with your kids to write a plan for what they’ll pack, then encourage them to build their own lunch. When kids have a vested interest in their lunch, they’re more likely to eat it.

Celebrate lunchtime
Create lunch menus around special events or holidays. Go to for a list of offbeat holidays and come up with menu items that riff on one of the special days. For example, send kids to school with mini pretzel sticks and a mini cheese round and encourage them to make a “wheel” for National Bike Month. Or celebrate National Salad Month with, obviously, a salad. You can also observe more traditional days by including a fortune cookie to celebrate Chinese New Year, for example, or including an orange and a stick of black licorice for Halloween.

Experiment with foods
Teens, this is a great way for you to try items you’re curious about. How about trying an exotic fruit now and then, like kiwi, papaya, or figs? Even if you try just one new thing a month, that’s at least nine new things you’ve tried in a school year!

Quit loafing for a week
Create non-sandwich meals loaded with extras like lettuce leaves for wraps, hollowed out tomatoes filled with tuna salad, and raw vegetables to dip in hummus.

Buy new go-bags
Get an insulated tote and Thermos so meals can include a wider range of hot and cold items, from hot chili to cold fruit salad. Don’t forget to include an ice pack to keep cool items at a safe temperature. 

Spend your own money
Teens: If you’re working, offer to buy your own lunch at school now and then. It’ll give you a sense of independence and free you from the task of bringing lunch from home. It will also be an opportunity for you to make healthy choices.

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