“If you’re thinking about packing lunches for your kids for school, part of what you’re going to want to think about is balancing those meals by using the MyPlate Guidelines.”, says Alex Autry, Registered Dietitian at Washington Regional. “That means using a protein, a carbohydrate, and then a fruit, vegetable, both if you can make that work. As a parent, I totally understand the trade off of convenience versus cost, so some of the prepackaged options in the deli section, at most grocery stores, they’ll have the little packages with like, some nuts, some turkey cubes, and some pretzels or cheese cubes or something. Those are a great option, but of course its going to be more cost-effective if you buy those things in bulk and then cut them up yourself, package them. So, one way to make it more interesting is to include your kids in choosing their lunches. An easy way to do that throughout the week is to start with choice boxes, or categories, where your kids can pick from a protein, a carbohydrate or like a snack food, and a couple of produce options. So choosing from those categories allows them to have some buy-in to their lunch, so that they feel like, you know, they know what they’re getting, and its something that they’re choosing, and hopefully something that they’re likely to eat. One of the tough things to keep in mind when we’re packing lunches for kids to eat later in the day, is that we have to remember about keeping hot foods hot, and cold foods cold for food safety reasons. So insulated lunchboxes, thermoses if you’re sending warm foods, they will be fine, and if they’re okay with just cold food then we just want to make sure we get icepacks in there, because we do want to keep an eye on food safety for schools lunches.”