If your kids love PB&J, use whole-grain bread and pick a natural peanut butter without hydrogenated oils and a fruit spread without high-fructose corn syrup.
Put away the mayo. Instead of a turkey BLT, make this southwestern turkey wrap from the Meal Makeover Moms, registered dieticians Janice Newell Bissex and Liz Weiss. The recipe uses low-sodium turkey, a whole-wheat tortilla, sliced avocado, reduced-fat cheese, and salsa.
Instead of packing fried chicken, send grilled chicken strips with a dipping sauce. Look for sauces that are low in sodium, calories, and fat.
On the Side
Try baking apple cinnamon or kale chips instead of buying fried chips at the store. The homemade chips cost less and have fewer calories.
Choose lower-calorie dips for veggies, like reduced-fat ranch dressing or honey mustard. Try hummus, or white or black bean dip. Send a variety of “dippers,” such as carrots, cucumber slices, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, and bell pepper slices.
Send a salad, but hold the creamy dressing and croutons. Top the greens with something sweet and something crunchy. Think mandarin oranges, raspberries, or strawberries, and pecans, cashews, or almonds.
Make a batch of small oatmeal raisin cookies and place fruit spread between two to create a cookie sandwich. This sweet treat has less sugar than many cookies.
Yogurt with preserved fruit often contains a lot of sugar. Cut down on calories by picking plain or vanilla yogurt and letting kids add fresh fruit and granola themselves.
Instead of putting a chocolate-covered granola bar in the lunch box, make a bag of trail mix with dried fruit, nuts, cereal pieces, and even a few chocolate chips.