What’s For Lunch? A Healthier Lunch Line For Our Kids* Plus Healthy Kid Lunch Box Ideas

Don’t ban it, move it. This is one conclusion of a new Cornell University study. In one set of schools, sales of fruit increased by 100% when it was moved to a colorful bowl. Salad bar sales tripled when the cart was placed in front of cash registers.

These findings presented recently at the School Nutrition Association’s New York conference, underscore the easiest way to lunchroom choices is to make an apple more convenient, cool, and visible than a cookie. The conclusion of six different studies with over 11,000 middle and high school studies show that psychology and economics might be better outlawing tasty food.

“It’s not nutrition until someone eats it. You need to have foods that kids will eat, or they won’t eat — or they’ll eat worse” said Chris Wallace, Food Service Director for the Corning, New York School District.

We’re focusing on giving Food Service Directors “low-cost/no cost” changes they can make immediately, said Brian Wansink, Co-Director of the Cornell Center of Behavioral Economics in Child Nutrition Programs (BEN). During his research presentation, he described other studies which showed:

Decreasing the size of bowls from 18 ounces to 14 ounces reduced the size of the average cereal serving at breakfast by 24 percent.

Creating a speedy “healthy express” checkout line for students not buying calorie-dense foods like desserts and chips, doubled the sales of healthy sandwiches.

Moving the chocolate milk behind the plain milk led students to buy more plain milk.

Keeping ice cream in a freezer with a closed opaque top significantly reduced the amount of ice cream taken.

ScienceDaily (Oct. 22, 2010) –

Cornell Food & Brand Lab (2010, October 22). Making school lunchrooms smarter. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 30, 2010, from http://www.sciencedaily.com /releases/2010/10/101

10 Healthy Kid Lunch Box Tips & Ideas

Packing a healthy kid lunch your children will enjoy day in and day out certainly isn’t an easy task. It’s hard to keep coming up with fresh ideas for packed lunches for the 20 or so school days there are in a month. No wonder we often rely on the same old lunch recipe favorites. Here are a few of my favorite kid lunch box ideas. I’m sure you’ve heard some of them before but I’m hoping you’ll find a few new ideas to inspire you.

Change The Bread

For a change from everyday sandwich use soft tortillas for wraps, whole grain bagels, English muffins, pita pockets or fresh baked  wheat rolls.

Create Your Own Snack Mix

Use a selection of small flavorful crackers, cereal, dried fruit or pretzels. Just about anything goes. For an occasional kid lunch box treat toss in a few M & Ms or yogurt or chocolate covered raisins. Experiment with different mixes and pre-package in individual zip lock bags.

Try Different Sandwich Fillings

Alter the sandwich fillings. Consider combinations like diced chicken and corn, ham and avocado, grated carrot and cheddar cheese, or jam and cream cheese.


Place on soft tortilla in a hot frying pan. Spread with tomato sauce or pizza sauce. Sprinkle grated cheese on top and other fillings like ham, bacon, peppers, onions and tomatoes. Place another tortilla on top and heat until cheese melts. Cut into pizza triangles.

Don’t Forget The Veggies

To ensure your child gets her daily requirement of vegetables cut up a selection of carrot sticks and celery sticks. Consider also other veggies like cucumber, ears of baby corn, cherry tomatoes, and zucchini. Pack a small container of dip or yogurt

Fruit Cubes

Cut up different pieces of fruit and package in a plastic container. Use fruit or vanilla yogurt as a tasty dip.

Fruit & Cheese Bites

Cheese cubes and grapes make a nice snack or lunch dessert. Pineapple and apple slices dipped in lemon juice also go nice with cheese.

Mini Muffins

Kids love things that come in small packages. So think ‘mini’ — small muffins and bagels. Vary flavors to avoid boredom.

Sandwich Shapes

Remove crusts from bread and cut out different shaped sandwiches using cookie cutters.

Pack A Note

Occasionally pack something extra special in your child’s kid lunch box like a note saying I love you or even a simple smiley face. Be creative and come up with something like a funny cartoon or saying that you know will put a smile on your child’s face.

Beyond Sandwiches

If your child is tired of bread in any form consider crackers. What about packing a few crackers in your child’s kid lunch box along with a side of cheese and ham slices? Kind of like a homemade lunchable only healthier. You can even cut the ham and cheese slices into fun shapes using cookie cutters. Be sure to package the crackers, cheese and meat separately.

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  1. Along with flat pizzas there is calzone which got its name from the shape of the bottom of men’s pants in Naples, Italy during another century. Today you can find pizza bagels, pizza dogs, stuffed pizza and on and on and on. Pizza is a close competitor of the All-American Hamburger and may have even surpassed the burger as everybody’s favorite. Whichever you like your pizza, just enjoy it and if you are in the mood, try different styles, just for the fun of it.

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