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Get Packing! Ridgewood Nutritionist Provides Back To School Lunch Ideas

Angela Langner of Nutrition Center of Bergen County offers healthy lunch tips for back to school.
Angela Langner of Nutrition Center of Bergen County offers healthy lunch tips for back to school. Photo Credit: Contributed

RIDGEWOOD, N.J. --Back to school often means early mornings, rushing around, trying to get the kid/kids to eat, pack the backpack and yes, have the dreaded argument over what to take for lunch.

This seems like it should be an easy task, yet a few days into the start of school, many parents are already frustrated.

So said Angela Langner, a registered dietitian/nutritionist with Nutrition Center of Bergen County in Ridgewood, who admitted, as a parent of one, she's been there too.

The following are some of her suggestions to make the process easier.

Establish what you want to make for the week. "By this I mean recipes," said Langner, a Ramsey resident. "Having them pre-made takes one more thing off your plate in the mornings."

Always make a grocery list. Life is too busy to have to keep running back to the store.

Pack one fruit and one vegetabe. If you have a picky eater, find what fruits and veggies your child will eat and always have those on hand. Also, try to play a game where you let your child come to the store and pick out a new vegetable or fruit that he is willing to try. The more kids are involved in the process the more likely they are to try something new. 

Pack a protein. Variety is important. Kids usually enjoy rotisserie chicken; mix it up by adding a little ranch dressing to dip it in. You can also mix protein into other foods like ground turkey in pasta sauce. Sometimes, Langner will pack a burger grilled the night before with a bit of ketchup to dip it in or a hard boiled egg.

Healthy carbs are a must. Kids need carbs. That’s what their brain functions on, and it gives them energy, but they need the right type of carbs. Pack sandwiches on Ezekiel bread (sprouted grain), whole grain breads, make quinoa pasta, or pack a cup of brown rice. Another option: mashed sweet potatoes with a little maple syrup and cinnamon.

Make the kids feel they’re getting a treat. The “treats” Langner often packs are always the healthiest versions possible, like raw mixed nuts with a few dark chocolate covered raisins, or a fruit roll up made from 100 percent real, organic fruit.

Other ideas: homemade chocolate chip cookies, veggies straws or organic popcorn.

Only water to drink. Skip the juice boxes and soda.

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