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Make Over Your Kid's Lunch

  • Lunch #1

    We've come up with tips and suggestions for turning an average lunch into one that will earn you high honors, beginning with this one:

    GRADE: C+

    —bologna (2 oz deli) and American cheese (1 oz) with mayo (1 tbsp) on white bread
    —lemonade (8 oz)
    —potato chips (1.5 oz)
    —fruit roll-up (14 g)
    —chocolate chip cookies (2 small)

    Calories: 902
    Fat: 47 g
    Saturated Fat: 17 g
    Fiber: 3 g
    Protein: 19 g

  • Peter Ardito

    Lunch #2

    GRADE: A+

    —turkey (2 oz deli roasted)and low-fat cheddar cheese (1 oz) with fat-free mayo (2 tsp), lettuce, tomato, on whole wheat bread

    —low-fat chocolate milk (8 oz)

    —Pirate's Booty (1 oz)

    —small pear

    —homemade trail mix: 2 tsp dark chocolate chips, like Hershey's Special Dark Chocolate Chips, 1 tbsp chopped walnuts, 1/4 cup whole-grain cereal, such as Kashi Heart to Heart, 2 tbsp raisins

    Calories: 631

    Fat: 13 g

    Saturated Fat: 5 g

    Fiber: 17 g

    Protein: 35 g

    Read on for an item-for-item nutritional breakdown.

  • Peter Ardito

    C+ Sandwich

    A sandwich made with white bread lacks the fiber needed to keep kids full until snacktime. And while American cheese is packed with protein and contributes the same amount of calcium for strong bones as low-fat cheddar cheese, it has about twice the fat.

  • Peter Ardito

    A+ Sandwich

    Your child gets 2 of her 3 recommended daily servings of whole grains, along with 4 g of filling fiber, from this sandwich. Deli turkey is virtually fat-free and offers nearly one-third more protein than bologna.

  • Peter Ardito

    C+ Beverage

    While some brands of lemonade are fortified with vitamin C, most versions are largely a sugar and water combo.

  • Peter Ardito

    A+ Beverage

    Kids who prefer flavored milk are more likely to meet their quota for calcium—yet don't consume more calories or fat per day than those who drink only white.

  • Peter Ardito

    C+ "Fruit"

    Most fruit snacks have at least twice as many calories, twice the sugar and half the fiber of a serving of real fruit.

  • Peter Ardito

    A+ Fruit

    Small, yes, but pears are a filling choice thanks to at least 5 g of fiber.

  • Peter Ardito

    C+ Snack

    Chips may be your child's favorite snack, but they account for nearly one-quarter of the fat in this lunch.

  • Peter Ardito

    A+ Snack

    Pirate's Booty contains just 5 g of fat, about half as much as most other chips and puffed snacks.

  • Peter Ardito

    C+ Sweet

    Of course, the occasional sweet is fine. It's only a problem when things like cookies—high in sugar and fat—take the place of more nutritious foods.

  • Peter Ardito

    A+ Sweet

    Homemade trail mix delivers a dose of antioxidants (dark chocolate); fiber and phytonutrients to prevent cancer (raisins); good fats (walnuts); and whole grains (cereal). However, only very active teenagers need to eat trail mix with their lunch; other kids can save it for an afternoon snack.

  • Kate Mathis

    Additional Healthy Sandwich Options

    Wrap (7 to 8 inches) stuffed with deli roast beef (2 oz), sliced low-fat cheddar cheese (1 oz), mustard (2 tbsp), lettuce and tomato