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Skip the hot lunch, bag it instead!

By DON SHIPMAN

There are easy ways to beef up a brown bag lunch while at the same time keeping it healthy for your kids.

Packing a lunch for school helps mom and dad control what kids are eating and it doesn't have to be a big production either.

"I think there has been an element of school lunches, they think everything has to be quick and easy, and in reality, healthy food can be quick and easy," said Kim Thompson, a certified nutritionist.

Thompson recommends using pre-packaging materials like little snack bags. They are perfect for chopped up fruit or vegetables. Thompson also suggests purchasing tiny plastic containers which she finds perfect for dips like dressing or hummus. She also says not to be afraid to get the kids involved suggesting they them create their own trail mix, a healthy alternative to potato chips.

"What kind of nuts do they want? What kind of dried fruit would they want? Do they want some chocolate chips in that," explained Thompson. "You know, have them have some fun with what they're going to be bringing to school."

For the main course, it doesn't have be a standard sandwich. Thompson suggests, instead, re-purposing dinner. Last night's steak could be made into a beef taco with the addition of some beans, low fat cheese and a whole wheat tortilla.

"If there's some leftovers from the day before that can be served slightly cool or even a little warm. They have lunch bags now that will keep food warm, so you can warm it up before the child leaves."

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