The New School Lunch

The New School Lunch
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The New School Lunch

Learn fresh school lunch-making ideas from Kraft Kitchen's Chef Carrie Conway and tips that you've never heard before.

Mix Salty and Sweet.

"Kids tend to enjoy sweet and salty combinations that give them the best of both flavor profiles," explains Conway. "Salty pretzels and sweet PHILADELPHIA Strawberry cream cheese spread or cinnamon swirl bread with cheddar cheese and apple slices are two kid-friendly options."

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Keep it fresh.

"Freeze certain contents of the lunch box to help make sure your child’s food stays cold," Conway shares. "Place drink boxes or reusable water bottles half full of water in the freezer the night before. They’ll thaw out by lunchtime while keeping everything cool."

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Balance Your Meals.

"When it comes to lunch, it’s all about balance," remarks Conway. "You want something that you know your child will eat, but that’s also nutritious and will leave them satisfied." The chef opts to fill lunch bags with a combination of foods in small portions such as berries, carrot sticks, turkey "roll-ups" and graham crackers.

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Get Creative.

Conway recommends trying some fresh takes on old favorites. Swap out your peanut butter and jelly sandwich for a cream cheese, raisin and banana sandwich. For deli sandwiches, try using a flavored cream cheese instead of traditional mustard or mayo.

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Plan Ahead.

"Create a lunchbox planner on Sunday to write out what will go in the kids’ lunches each day," advises Conway. "Involve kids by allowing them to 'place their order' – and make suggestions for the week." You can also prepare your fruits and vegetables in snack bags the night before to make the morning a breeze. "If you have multiple lunches to pack each day, create a morning assembly line to help things move quickly and make the kids feel part of the lunch prep."

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Make It Safe For Everyone.

Conway advises, "If you know your kid is a sharer, it’s a good idea to keep their lunchbox allergen-free. Stick to including safer options such as rice crackers, grapes or string cheese. Individually wrapped items that are clearly marked with allergen warnings are another option."

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Simplify Dessert.

There is no reason to get elaborate when thinking up dessert options for the lunch box. Conway recommends fresh fruit or pretzels with Caramel Apple Dip. "Kids will love the sweet and creamy taste, while parents will feel good knowing that they’re finishing their fruit and pairing it with a sweet treat made with real ingredients, like milk and cream."

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Offer a Bit of Everything.

"Try to make sure that their lunch meal contains a variety of delicious options that offer a healthy balance of fun foods so they don’t feel 'cheated' in their lunchbox," says Conway.

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Stock your fridge smartly.

Don't fill your fridge with a lot of food; fill it with the right food. "Focus on purchasing items that can do double (or triple) duty," Chef Conway explains. "Flexible condiments like flavored cream cheese will work not only for your breakfast bagel, but for sandwich spreads at lunch or stirred into your dinner dish."

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Get the whole family on board!

There is no need to pack lunches all by yourself. "Let kids help," advises Conway. "Not only will you have an extra set of little hands in the kitchen, if they have a say in what goes into their lunch bag, they’ll be more likely to eat it. Allow them to choose from different options, or let them pick one item of their choice."

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As PHILADELPHIA Chef in the Kraft Kitchens and mother of two, Carrie Conway knows how to pack an amazing lunch. In her seven years at Kraft, the chef has focused on developing creative food solutions for families, and she continues to do the same this September as the new school year begins.

From what sandwich is a great alternative to peanut butter and jelly to what constitutes a balanced lunch, Conway has the answers.

Check out the slideshow above to find school lunch-making ideas and tips you've never heard before.

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