For many kids school is back in session. Parents have put their kids back on the bus, but what are they putting in their kids' lunchbox? For moms like Michelle Pellman, packing school lunches can be a struggle.
"How do you keep it healthy and still give your child some variety to pick from and keep it interesting for them, so you're not sending the exact same thing? When you're doing it 2-3 times a week it can be more of a challenge." Said Pellman.
But it doesn't have to be. Avera Dietician Kristin Sousek at the 37th Street Hyvee store says there are several healthy lunch options for school. Those options start by making sure all the food groups are covered.
"You want to make sure you're getting them some whole grains, some low fat dairy, some lean meats, we definitely would like some fresh fruit and if we can't do fresh fruit we want to make sure it's the fruit that's packaged in its own natural juices not a lot of sugar is added." Said Sousek.
Pre-packaged foods are typically loaded with preservatives, so the fresher, the better. That means kids also need to have the right lunchbox and ice pack to keep things fresh, because no one wants to eat mayonnaise that's been sitting out all day.
"We want to make sure we're keeping them cold that's a big part of it too, we don't want our kids to be opening something at noon and having some safety issues with that." Said Sousek.
Avera Hyvee Dieticians like Sousek can help point you in the right direction for healthy lunches, but you should also consider the opinions of those who have to eat what's in the bag.
"Get your kids involved, they have likes and dislikes just as we do. Let them be a part of the planning and shopping they're going to be more apt to buy into eating what is packed in their lunch if they're a part of that." Said Sousek.
With some tough critics at home, Pellman says bringing her two boys along has definitely helped make her cold lunches a hit.
"One day he's all about pears and then the next day he wants apples and asks why did you send pears? So I try and do that and involve him and it does make it easier for me." Said Pellman
Up and down the aisles you can find Nu-Val scores to help you choose the healthiest option for your kids. The store's dieticians also have recipes and ideas on how to make meals a little more exciting.
"I'm not necessarily the most creative person so I tend to gravitate to the old standbys so after a while it does get a little boring so it's nice to know you can come here and they're able to give us some ideas on something to freshen things up." Said Pellman.
Pre-packaged foods may be easier on the budget but Sousek says if you pay attention to the sales, shopping healthy doesn't have to be hard on the wallet. Spending those hard-earned dollars on foods with a better nutritional value, makes for a healthier family and a healthier school year.
With many schools becoming peanut free, make sure you check with your child's school to see what the peanut butter policy is before you send them off with a PB & J.
For more information about healthy cold lunch options just call 877-AT-AVERA