Back to school easy, healthy lunchbox ideas lunchbox-fillers-280

Whether you have little ones getting ready to go back to nursery or starting for the first time, finding healthy, fun items to fill their lunchbox is bound to cause some stress as September fast approaches.

Take a look at some of these easy options that your kids will love (very important!) but also gives parents the piece of mind that the kids have healthy options in their lunchbox (just as important!).

We even throw in some great after nursery/school snack ideas that kids will find delicious and you can pat yourself on the back for providing tasty, healthy treats!

1. Keep it lean

Keep a sandwich healthy using lean meat, such as shaved ham or turkey, on whole grain bread or in a wheat wrap with some lettuce, low/fat free cheese, and a touch of low-fat/fat-free mayonnaise.

Even an American inspired children's sandwich, peanut butter and jam, can be made in a healthy way these days. Many peanut butter brands now offer low-fat and low-sodium versions. That, coupled with an all-fruit, sugar-free jam on whole grain bread makes a healthier option.

Tuna fish is packed with Omega-3 fatty acids, try it mixed with low-fat mayonnaise, diced apple, and, if your child likes, a bit of onion and served in a wheat pita.

The very popular BLT can also be healthy! Simply swap regular bacon for the turkey bacon variety (in moderation due to high-sodium levels) and layer with lettuce, tomato, and fat-free mayonnaise. Sandwich in whole grain bread or roll into a pita wrap.

2. Lunchbox extras

Low-salt pretzels

Fat- and sugar-free yogurt or cottage cheese

Celery sticks filed with low-fat/low-sodium peanut butter

Any kind of pre-washed fresh fruit (nature's gift to humanity)

Dried or dehydrated fruit, such as raisins; apricots, pears, apples, roasted or raw almonds, walnuts or peanuts (not oiled or candied)

Low-fat string cheese or chunked low-fat cheese; and even baked crisps.

3. Drink choices

Skip the sugary juice cartons and send along a bottle of water (experts recommend one consume about .5 ounces of water per pound of body weight).

4. After nursery/school snack ideas

Crisps/Fries: Cut the potato in the desired shape (round, rectangular, oblong, etc.). Fully coat with egg whites. Season with a touch of salt or other herbs as desired. Bake at 350 degrees until golden brown. Serve with sugar-free catsup.

Popcorn: Air pop popcorn and on it drizzle a moderate amount of powdered butter substitute, light parmesan cheese, or even honey for a tasty twist.

Pizza: On a fat-free/low-calorie/low-carb whole grain tortilla (or whole grain bagel), smear tomato paste or sauce and top with fat-free cheese, whatever veggies the child likes, and even lean meats like ham or turkey dices. Bake at 350 degrees until cheese is melted with a few brown spots on top.

Fruit smoothies: These are a warm weather staple that can, and should, be enjoyed year-round. While fruit smoothie recipes abound, it need not be a complex process. Simply blend, in amounts to your personal liking, either plain or flavored fat-free/sugar-free yogurt with skim milk, ice cubes, and either fresh or frozen fruit chunks. For added sweetness, you can add a touch of honey or an artificial sweetener. Blend and enjoy!

Healthy ice cream sandwiches: These are a snap - and always a crowd pleaser! Purchase any type of round fat-free/sugar-free biscuit on the market (preferably the new whole grain varieties) or bake any low-fat/low-calorie cookie recipe from scratch. Sandwich waistline-friendly sherbet, sorbet, or gelato between two cookies and press to make a sandwich. For added excitement, flavour, and visual interest, you can also roll the outside edge of the "sandwich" in chopped unsalted nuts, shredded coconut, raisins or finely diced fresh or dried fruit.

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