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The 12 Worst Things You Can Pack for Your Kid’s Lunch

The 12 Worst Things You Can Pack for Your Kid’s Lunch

Set your children up with healthy habits, starting in school

Thinkstock / Jani Bryson

Back to school not only means back to the books, it means back to the bad lunches. Eating patterns that begin in elementary and middle school may encourage poor eating habits into adulthood. The American Academy of Pediatrics says that childhood obesity starts in the home, and introducing healthy foods should be a top priority for parents.

The 12 Worst Things You Can Pack for Your Kid’s Lunch

Thinkstock / Jani Bryson

Back to school not only means back to the books, it means back to the bad lunches. Eating patterns that begin in elementary and middle school may encourage poor eating habits into adulthood. The American Academy of Pediatrics says that childhood obesity starts in the home, and introducing healthy foods should be a top priority for parents.

Artificial Dyes

Thinkstock / nayneung1

Start reading exactly what is in the packaged food you serve your children. “Studies suggest that the increasing use of dyes in our food supply leads to hyperactivity, chromosomal issues, lymphoma, and tumors,” Wilday explains.

Candy

Unfortunately, candy has absolutely zero nutritional value and is high in sugar. Instead, give your children sweet but nutrient-dense alternatives. “Something like watermelon or berries will give them the bright colors they see in candy and a sweetness that is good for them,” Wilday says.

Chips

iStock / Thinkstock

Especially during the school day, children need snacks that will fill them up, not leave them hungry. Chips are a common processed food that children reach for when they want an easy and tasty snack, but they will only leave them wanting more. “If you grow up eating junk, it is much harder later on to get away from it,” Wilday says. “Essentially, our bodies become addicted to the sugar and chemicals we eat. If you learn proper eating habits at a young age, this addiction will not occur!”

High Fructose Corn Syrup

Thinkstock / PRImageFactory

Foods containing HFCS are a major contributor to digestive problems. “This highly processed sweetener doesn’t require normal digestion,” Wilday said. “Instead, it is more rapidly absorbed into the blood stream and goes directly to your liver. It is thought to contribute to the growing cases of fatty liver, diabetes, and obesity.”

Juice Boxes

Thinkstock / George Doyle

Pre-Packaged Lunch Trays

Thinkstock/ mg7

Although these are a quick go-to, they are shockingly unhealthy. The meat, cheese, and processed crackers are filled with added salt and chemicals.

Soda

Spray Cheese

Thinkstock / Mindspace

Sugary Fruit Snacks

Shutterstock / Brent Hofacker

Products like fruit snacks and Fruit Roll-Ups may seem healthy, but when you take a look at the nutrient breakdown, you may think otherwise. “The first ingredient is typically fruit concentrate and is void of the nutritional benefits and fibers of fruit,” Wilday says. “It is essentially concentrated sugar.”

Sweetened Sports Drinks

Thinkstock / Jani Bryson

Instead of quenching your thirst, these drinks tend to make you thirstier. “Sweetened sports drinks claim to help rehydrate,” explains Wilday. “Instead, you receive empty calories, high sugar content, high sodium content, harmful dyes, and over nine teaspoons of sugar in a 12-ounce bottle.”

White Bread and Crackers

Giving your child simple carbohydrates will only give them more sugar. “Highly processed white flour-based food, also known as starch, white pasta, and white bread, are just empty calories,” Wilday says. “Your body metabolizes this as sugar and it can become toxic.” Opt for whole-wheat bread and crackers for a healthy and delicious alternative.


6 Clean Brown-Bag Lunches Both You and Your Kid Will Love

The two-for-one lunch&mdasha single meal that both you and your kid(s) will happily eat&mdashis the holy grail of busy mornings. But how do you achieve it? Start right here: We've gathered the best lunchbox inspiration from across the blogosphere. These are six of our favorite ideas for lunches that make everybody happy:

Healthy Avocado Chicken Salad

This kid-friendly take on chicken salad from Family Fresh Meals swaps out some of the mayo for Greek yogurt and creamy avocado. Stuff it in a whole wheat pita for perfect portable satisfaction.

Roast Beef Roll Ups and Mixed Berries

It doesn't get much easier than this Paleo-friendly lunch from Nom Nom Paleo: Simply slice up your favorite veggies, wrap in your favorite meat, and tie it all up with an adorable little chive knot&mdashor, you know, a toothpick. (She's got tons of ideas for tasty dipping sauces, too!)

Mini Frittata

It only takes 20 minutes and six ingredients (plus a little salt and pepper) to make this high-protein lunch by Oh Sweet Day. The frittatas can even be stored in the freezer for a full month, if you're a make-ahead maven.

Mediterranean Cucumber Roll Ups

These crunchy little bites from The Wholesome Dish have a fun party-food feel. Make them as-is for a vegetarian lunch, or up the protein factor with a little sliced turkey.

Sandwich on a Stick

There's something about putting ordinary foods on a skewer that makes them endlessly more entertaining. Check out these tasty combinations developed by Two Peas and Their Pod.

Make-Ahead Fruit & Yogurt Parfaits

You love yogurt at breakfast: Why not try it for lunch? These colorful parfaits from Iowa Girl Eats work with any fruit you like, and you can make them up to 3 days in advance.


6 Clean Brown-Bag Lunches Both You and Your Kid Will Love

The two-for-one lunch&mdasha single meal that both you and your kid(s) will happily eat&mdashis the holy grail of busy mornings. But how do you achieve it? Start right here: We've gathered the best lunchbox inspiration from across the blogosphere. These are six of our favorite ideas for lunches that make everybody happy:

Healthy Avocado Chicken Salad

This kid-friendly take on chicken salad from Family Fresh Meals swaps out some of the mayo for Greek yogurt and creamy avocado. Stuff it in a whole wheat pita for perfect portable satisfaction.

Roast Beef Roll Ups and Mixed Berries

It doesn't get much easier than this Paleo-friendly lunch from Nom Nom Paleo: Simply slice up your favorite veggies, wrap in your favorite meat, and tie it all up with an adorable little chive knot&mdashor, you know, a toothpick. (She's got tons of ideas for tasty dipping sauces, too!)

Mini Frittata

It only takes 20 minutes and six ingredients (plus a little salt and pepper) to make this high-protein lunch by Oh Sweet Day. The frittatas can even be stored in the freezer for a full month, if you're a make-ahead maven.

Mediterranean Cucumber Roll Ups

These crunchy little bites from The Wholesome Dish have a fun party-food feel. Make them as-is for a vegetarian lunch, or up the protein factor with a little sliced turkey.

Sandwich on a Stick

There's something about putting ordinary foods on a skewer that makes them endlessly more entertaining. Check out these tasty combinations developed by Two Peas and Their Pod.

Make-Ahead Fruit & Yogurt Parfaits

You love yogurt at breakfast: Why not try it for lunch? These colorful parfaits from Iowa Girl Eats work with any fruit you like, and you can make them up to 3 days in advance.


6 Clean Brown-Bag Lunches Both You and Your Kid Will Love

The two-for-one lunch&mdasha single meal that both you and your kid(s) will happily eat&mdashis the holy grail of busy mornings. But how do you achieve it? Start right here: We've gathered the best lunchbox inspiration from across the blogosphere. These are six of our favorite ideas for lunches that make everybody happy:

Healthy Avocado Chicken Salad

This kid-friendly take on chicken salad from Family Fresh Meals swaps out some of the mayo for Greek yogurt and creamy avocado. Stuff it in a whole wheat pita for perfect portable satisfaction.

Roast Beef Roll Ups and Mixed Berries

It doesn't get much easier than this Paleo-friendly lunch from Nom Nom Paleo: Simply slice up your favorite veggies, wrap in your favorite meat, and tie it all up with an adorable little chive knot&mdashor, you know, a toothpick. (She's got tons of ideas for tasty dipping sauces, too!)

Mini Frittata

It only takes 20 minutes and six ingredients (plus a little salt and pepper) to make this high-protein lunch by Oh Sweet Day. The frittatas can even be stored in the freezer for a full month, if you're a make-ahead maven.

Mediterranean Cucumber Roll Ups

These crunchy little bites from The Wholesome Dish have a fun party-food feel. Make them as-is for a vegetarian lunch, or up the protein factor with a little sliced turkey.

Sandwich on a Stick

There's something about putting ordinary foods on a skewer that makes them endlessly more entertaining. Check out these tasty combinations developed by Two Peas and Their Pod.

Make-Ahead Fruit & Yogurt Parfaits

You love yogurt at breakfast: Why not try it for lunch? These colorful parfaits from Iowa Girl Eats work with any fruit you like, and you can make them up to 3 days in advance.


6 Clean Brown-Bag Lunches Both You and Your Kid Will Love

The two-for-one lunch&mdasha single meal that both you and your kid(s) will happily eat&mdashis the holy grail of busy mornings. But how do you achieve it? Start right here: We've gathered the best lunchbox inspiration from across the blogosphere. These are six of our favorite ideas for lunches that make everybody happy:

Healthy Avocado Chicken Salad

This kid-friendly take on chicken salad from Family Fresh Meals swaps out some of the mayo for Greek yogurt and creamy avocado. Stuff it in a whole wheat pita for perfect portable satisfaction.

Roast Beef Roll Ups and Mixed Berries

It doesn't get much easier than this Paleo-friendly lunch from Nom Nom Paleo: Simply slice up your favorite veggies, wrap in your favorite meat, and tie it all up with an adorable little chive knot&mdashor, you know, a toothpick. (She's got tons of ideas for tasty dipping sauces, too!)

Mini Frittata

It only takes 20 minutes and six ingredients (plus a little salt and pepper) to make this high-protein lunch by Oh Sweet Day. The frittatas can even be stored in the freezer for a full month, if you're a make-ahead maven.

Mediterranean Cucumber Roll Ups

These crunchy little bites from The Wholesome Dish have a fun party-food feel. Make them as-is for a vegetarian lunch, or up the protein factor with a little sliced turkey.

Sandwich on a Stick

There's something about putting ordinary foods on a skewer that makes them endlessly more entertaining. Check out these tasty combinations developed by Two Peas and Their Pod.

Make-Ahead Fruit & Yogurt Parfaits

You love yogurt at breakfast: Why not try it for lunch? These colorful parfaits from Iowa Girl Eats work with any fruit you like, and you can make them up to 3 days in advance.


6 Clean Brown-Bag Lunches Both You and Your Kid Will Love

The two-for-one lunch&mdasha single meal that both you and your kid(s) will happily eat&mdashis the holy grail of busy mornings. But how do you achieve it? Start right here: We've gathered the best lunchbox inspiration from across the blogosphere. These are six of our favorite ideas for lunches that make everybody happy:

Healthy Avocado Chicken Salad

This kid-friendly take on chicken salad from Family Fresh Meals swaps out some of the mayo for Greek yogurt and creamy avocado. Stuff it in a whole wheat pita for perfect portable satisfaction.

Roast Beef Roll Ups and Mixed Berries

It doesn't get much easier than this Paleo-friendly lunch from Nom Nom Paleo: Simply slice up your favorite veggies, wrap in your favorite meat, and tie it all up with an adorable little chive knot&mdashor, you know, a toothpick. (She's got tons of ideas for tasty dipping sauces, too!)

Mini Frittata

It only takes 20 minutes and six ingredients (plus a little salt and pepper) to make this high-protein lunch by Oh Sweet Day. The frittatas can even be stored in the freezer for a full month, if you're a make-ahead maven.

Mediterranean Cucumber Roll Ups

These crunchy little bites from The Wholesome Dish have a fun party-food feel. Make them as-is for a vegetarian lunch, or up the protein factor with a little sliced turkey.

Sandwich on a Stick

There's something about putting ordinary foods on a skewer that makes them endlessly more entertaining. Check out these tasty combinations developed by Two Peas and Their Pod.

Make-Ahead Fruit & Yogurt Parfaits

You love yogurt at breakfast: Why not try it for lunch? These colorful parfaits from Iowa Girl Eats work with any fruit you like, and you can make them up to 3 days in advance.


6 Clean Brown-Bag Lunches Both You and Your Kid Will Love

The two-for-one lunch&mdasha single meal that both you and your kid(s) will happily eat&mdashis the holy grail of busy mornings. But how do you achieve it? Start right here: We've gathered the best lunchbox inspiration from across the blogosphere. These are six of our favorite ideas for lunches that make everybody happy:

Healthy Avocado Chicken Salad

This kid-friendly take on chicken salad from Family Fresh Meals swaps out some of the mayo for Greek yogurt and creamy avocado. Stuff it in a whole wheat pita for perfect portable satisfaction.

Roast Beef Roll Ups and Mixed Berries

It doesn't get much easier than this Paleo-friendly lunch from Nom Nom Paleo: Simply slice up your favorite veggies, wrap in your favorite meat, and tie it all up with an adorable little chive knot&mdashor, you know, a toothpick. (She's got tons of ideas for tasty dipping sauces, too!)

Mini Frittata

It only takes 20 minutes and six ingredients (plus a little salt and pepper) to make this high-protein lunch by Oh Sweet Day. The frittatas can even be stored in the freezer for a full month, if you're a make-ahead maven.

Mediterranean Cucumber Roll Ups

These crunchy little bites from The Wholesome Dish have a fun party-food feel. Make them as-is for a vegetarian lunch, or up the protein factor with a little sliced turkey.

Sandwich on a Stick

There's something about putting ordinary foods on a skewer that makes them endlessly more entertaining. Check out these tasty combinations developed by Two Peas and Their Pod.

Make-Ahead Fruit & Yogurt Parfaits

You love yogurt at breakfast: Why not try it for lunch? These colorful parfaits from Iowa Girl Eats work with any fruit you like, and you can make them up to 3 days in advance.


6 Clean Brown-Bag Lunches Both You and Your Kid Will Love

The two-for-one lunch&mdasha single meal that both you and your kid(s) will happily eat&mdashis the holy grail of busy mornings. But how do you achieve it? Start right here: We've gathered the best lunchbox inspiration from across the blogosphere. These are six of our favorite ideas for lunches that make everybody happy:

Healthy Avocado Chicken Salad

This kid-friendly take on chicken salad from Family Fresh Meals swaps out some of the mayo for Greek yogurt and creamy avocado. Stuff it in a whole wheat pita for perfect portable satisfaction.

Roast Beef Roll Ups and Mixed Berries

It doesn't get much easier than this Paleo-friendly lunch from Nom Nom Paleo: Simply slice up your favorite veggies, wrap in your favorite meat, and tie it all up with an adorable little chive knot&mdashor, you know, a toothpick. (She's got tons of ideas for tasty dipping sauces, too!)

Mini Frittata

It only takes 20 minutes and six ingredients (plus a little salt and pepper) to make this high-protein lunch by Oh Sweet Day. The frittatas can even be stored in the freezer for a full month, if you're a make-ahead maven.

Mediterranean Cucumber Roll Ups

These crunchy little bites from The Wholesome Dish have a fun party-food feel. Make them as-is for a vegetarian lunch, or up the protein factor with a little sliced turkey.

Sandwich on a Stick

There's something about putting ordinary foods on a skewer that makes them endlessly more entertaining. Check out these tasty combinations developed by Two Peas and Their Pod.

Make-Ahead Fruit & Yogurt Parfaits

You love yogurt at breakfast: Why not try it for lunch? These colorful parfaits from Iowa Girl Eats work with any fruit you like, and you can make them up to 3 days in advance.


6 Clean Brown-Bag Lunches Both You and Your Kid Will Love

The two-for-one lunch&mdasha single meal that both you and your kid(s) will happily eat&mdashis the holy grail of busy mornings. But how do you achieve it? Start right here: We've gathered the best lunchbox inspiration from across the blogosphere. These are six of our favorite ideas for lunches that make everybody happy:

Healthy Avocado Chicken Salad

This kid-friendly take on chicken salad from Family Fresh Meals swaps out some of the mayo for Greek yogurt and creamy avocado. Stuff it in a whole wheat pita for perfect portable satisfaction.

Roast Beef Roll Ups and Mixed Berries

It doesn't get much easier than this Paleo-friendly lunch from Nom Nom Paleo: Simply slice up your favorite veggies, wrap in your favorite meat, and tie it all up with an adorable little chive knot&mdashor, you know, a toothpick. (She's got tons of ideas for tasty dipping sauces, too!)

Mini Frittata

It only takes 20 minutes and six ingredients (plus a little salt and pepper) to make this high-protein lunch by Oh Sweet Day. The frittatas can even be stored in the freezer for a full month, if you're a make-ahead maven.

Mediterranean Cucumber Roll Ups

These crunchy little bites from The Wholesome Dish have a fun party-food feel. Make them as-is for a vegetarian lunch, or up the protein factor with a little sliced turkey.

Sandwich on a Stick

There's something about putting ordinary foods on a skewer that makes them endlessly more entertaining. Check out these tasty combinations developed by Two Peas and Their Pod.

Make-Ahead Fruit & Yogurt Parfaits

You love yogurt at breakfast: Why not try it for lunch? These colorful parfaits from Iowa Girl Eats work with any fruit you like, and you can make them up to 3 days in advance.


6 Clean Brown-Bag Lunches Both You and Your Kid Will Love

The two-for-one lunch&mdasha single meal that both you and your kid(s) will happily eat&mdashis the holy grail of busy mornings. But how do you achieve it? Start right here: We've gathered the best lunchbox inspiration from across the blogosphere. These are six of our favorite ideas for lunches that make everybody happy:

Healthy Avocado Chicken Salad

This kid-friendly take on chicken salad from Family Fresh Meals swaps out some of the mayo for Greek yogurt and creamy avocado. Stuff it in a whole wheat pita for perfect portable satisfaction.

Roast Beef Roll Ups and Mixed Berries

It doesn't get much easier than this Paleo-friendly lunch from Nom Nom Paleo: Simply slice up your favorite veggies, wrap in your favorite meat, and tie it all up with an adorable little chive knot&mdashor, you know, a toothpick. (She's got tons of ideas for tasty dipping sauces, too!)

Mini Frittata

It only takes 20 minutes and six ingredients (plus a little salt and pepper) to make this high-protein lunch by Oh Sweet Day. The frittatas can even be stored in the freezer for a full month, if you're a make-ahead maven.

Mediterranean Cucumber Roll Ups

These crunchy little bites from The Wholesome Dish have a fun party-food feel. Make them as-is for a vegetarian lunch, or up the protein factor with a little sliced turkey.

Sandwich on a Stick

There's something about putting ordinary foods on a skewer that makes them endlessly more entertaining. Check out these tasty combinations developed by Two Peas and Their Pod.

Make-Ahead Fruit & Yogurt Parfaits

You love yogurt at breakfast: Why not try it for lunch? These colorful parfaits from Iowa Girl Eats work with any fruit you like, and you can make them up to 3 days in advance.


6 Clean Brown-Bag Lunches Both You and Your Kid Will Love

The two-for-one lunch&mdasha single meal that both you and your kid(s) will happily eat&mdashis the holy grail of busy mornings. But how do you achieve it? Start right here: We've gathered the best lunchbox inspiration from across the blogosphere. These are six of our favorite ideas for lunches that make everybody happy:

Healthy Avocado Chicken Salad

This kid-friendly take on chicken salad from Family Fresh Meals swaps out some of the mayo for Greek yogurt and creamy avocado. Stuff it in a whole wheat pita for perfect portable satisfaction.

Roast Beef Roll Ups and Mixed Berries

It doesn't get much easier than this Paleo-friendly lunch from Nom Nom Paleo: Simply slice up your favorite veggies, wrap in your favorite meat, and tie it all up with an adorable little chive knot&mdashor, you know, a toothpick. (She's got tons of ideas for tasty dipping sauces, too!)

Mini Frittata

It only takes 20 minutes and six ingredients (plus a little salt and pepper) to make this high-protein lunch by Oh Sweet Day. The frittatas can even be stored in the freezer for a full month, if you're a make-ahead maven.

Mediterranean Cucumber Roll Ups

These crunchy little bites from The Wholesome Dish have a fun party-food feel. Make them as-is for a vegetarian lunch, or up the protein factor with a little sliced turkey.

Sandwich on a Stick

There's something about putting ordinary foods on a skewer that makes them endlessly more entertaining. Check out these tasty combinations developed by Two Peas and Their Pod.

Make-Ahead Fruit & Yogurt Parfaits

You love yogurt at breakfast: Why not try it for lunch? These colorful parfaits from Iowa Girl Eats work with any fruit you like, and you can make them up to 3 days in advance.