Send your kids back to school with the right brain food

Nutritionist weighs in on lunchbox "dos" and "don'ts"

By Alexandra Fruin - Producer , MJ Acosta - Reporter

As you pack up your kids' backpacks this year with school supplies, don't forget to start packing the most crucial items: a healthy lunch.

Local 10's MJ Acosta headed to the grocery store with a nutritional expert to get some lessons on lunchbox packing.

When shopping for school snacks, the key is to stay on track and don't let yourself, or your kids, distract you from what you know is healthy. One of the easiest ways to do that is to focus on the outside aisles.

"The inside lanes are where you find packaged and processed items," explained Jennifer Jones, founder of Absolute Fitness, PT LLC.

Grab-and-go items may seem like the more convenient options, but items like produce can also be simple-- and they're much better for you! Try slicing up apples or getting mixing up a fruit salad in exchange for other sugary treats.

But that doesn't mean all processed foods need to be off-limits. Jones, who is also a NASM, IAFS certified personal trainer,  suggests taking a glance at the nutritional content before feeding your family.

Her helpful tip: "When you can't pronounce the names [on the nutritional label], that's when it becomes a problem!"

A good alternate for those "snack size" bags of chips, which have large amounts of sodium and dyes, would be a small bag of pretzels with a portion-controlled side of peanut butter.

It's important to keep in mind that kids will need an energy boost halfway through the day. That's why you need to make sure their lunches are serving them the right way.

Instead of opting for kid-friendly products like Lunchables, head to the deli section of your grocery store. Fresh cold cuts don't have the same high amounts of preservatives, sugar, and sodium that packaged lunches have.

And just because you're the parent doesn't mean you have to take the lunch making duties on alone! Make homemade lunches into a fun family activity, by incorporating some colorful containers and setting up the table for a family meal prep session!

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