It’s back-to-school time for kids, which means back to schedules for parents: organizing backpacks, arranging after-school activities, shopping for school supplies and, of course, making lunches.

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This article was published 29/8/2016 (1918 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

It’s back-to-school time for kids, which means back to schedules for parents: organizing backpacks, arranging after-school activities, shopping for school supplies and, of course, making lunches.

With so many allergy concerns in today’s classrooms, packing a peanut butter-and-jelly sandwich or tuna wrap is a definite no-go. Adhering to food/allergy restrictions can leave parents feeling as if they’re out of ideas. As a parent, you want to ensure you are sending your kids to school with healthy lunches that are easy to prepare — either the night before or on school-day mornings — and, perhaps most importantly, lunches your kids are going to actually eat.

Gone are the days of picking up a "ready-to-eat" packaged lunch. They are loaded with sodium, sugar and simply don’t contain enough nutrient-dense calories to give them energy all day. If you’re a working parent, you face a constant struggle with time; there just aren’t enough hours in the day to cook, make and bake homemade everything. But that doesn’t mean your kids’ nutrition should be left on the back burner. Here are five ideas on how to make delicious, healthy lunches your kids will be sure to enjoy:

Leftovers — If they liked it at dinner, they’ll like it at lunch. My sister, the superhero mom of three, ensures every lunch and dinner meal has vegetables in it — whether it’s raw veggies and dip, steamed broccoli, honey carrots or roasted vegetables, her kids love them. Finding a vegetable or two that your kids enjoy is the key to making this work. Taking your kids grocery shopping (which I know can be a nightmare at times) may help them understand the variety of vegetables they can choose from. Making it a game by having them find and pick out veggies for the cart is a great way to make them feel part of the process. And when they feel like they’re part of the process, they are more likely to eat what you are making.

Todd Sumlin / Charlotte Observer</p><p>This lunch box serves up appealing hues and nutritious veggies: pita wedges with colourful hummus dips, along with carrot hummus wraps.</p></p>

Todd Sumlin / Charlotte Observer

This lunch box serves up appealing hues and nutritious veggies: pita wedges with colourful hummus dips, along with carrot hummus wraps.

Wraps — There are lots of options to put inside these easy-to-prepare lunch mainstays. I would suggest choosing a whole-grain wrap that typically comes in smaller sizes for kids; dice up some chicken, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, red peppers — whatever they like — then add brown rice or rice noodles from last night’s dinner, and for condiments, try mustard or hummus for a healthy dash of extra flavour. Superhealthykids.com has a great article on the Top 10 healthy wrap ideas.

Pita pockets — The mini-pita pockets are great for kids’ lunches. Use cream cheese as a base, and add fresh cucumber and tomato. This takes less than 60 seconds to prepare, and the results are delicious.

Pita, dip and veggies — Kids love to dip; have you seen them eat fries and ketchup? Here’s a healthy spin on it — pack them a bento box with healthy options such as hummus or Greek yogurt dip, pita and veggies.

Pasta — If your child’s classroom has a microwave, send them with a container of whole-wheat pasta and marinara sauce they can reheat. (Some kids may enjoy cold pasta, too.) Not only is this healthy, but it’s a cost-effective meal that can feed your whole family.

When it comes to snacks, most schools encourage you to pack healthy ones — they don’t want kids coming with a chocolate bar and a bag of chips to help them get through the day. They, too, understand the value of nutrition and how it can affect learning and energy levels. So opt for packing fruit, cheese and crackers, or veggies and dip. I loved having something sweet as a kid in my lunch; if your kids do too, try to provide them with homemade goodies rather than processed treats.

And finally, when it comes to packing lunches, be mindful of how it’s done. Plastic sandwich bags and brown paper bags that are thrown out every day are terrible for our environment, and the cost adds up quickly. A much better idea is to put lunch components in reusable containers (Tupperware, or the like) and pack them all up in reusable, washable lunch kits.