How to pack a 5-star school lunch this school year

CLEVELAND - When it comes to packing a school lunch, pediatric dietician Susie Akers said it’s easy for parents to fall into some convenience traps.

“A lot of high processed foods, very high in sodium, very high in fat, minimal entrees, meaning a whole grain protein source, and instead we're seeing multiple beverages, multiple snack foods, so families feel that their children are eating something while their children are at school," Akers said.

The dietician said instead of buying prepackaged food, just pull from the basics in your refrigerator for a five-star lunch.

“The five stars of a good meal are a main protein, or a protein source, whole grains, fruits and vegetables, water and dairy, a low fat dairy.”

A whole grain bagel with jelly and peanut butter, for example, is a good protein choice. Add to that, some cut veggies, an apple and low fat yogurt or cheese stick. For a drink, water is better than sugary fruit juice boxes.

“Juice boxes are simple sugars. They're going to spike the child's energy for recess but then they are going to come back into the classroom and crash and that's where they are not able to have that focus anymore," Akers explained.

Water is definitely better than caffeinated drinks.

“Children don't need that extra caffeine. There are way too many beverages now where it's cold coffee drinks, teas, energy drinks. Children should not be bringing those to school. if they are eating a balanced meal, they don't need that extra energy boost and that is actually not good for their health," Akers added.

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