During the school day, it's pretty common for kids to have an allotted—but very short—lunch period at school, which is why it's so important to pack finger foods, Sarah says. In the cafeteria, nutrition made simple has a much better shot of getting eaten than any kind of messy meal.
Start with a sandwich: whole grain bread with nut butter, turkey, low-fat cheese or another type of lean protein. In addition, Sarah says making a mixture of fruits and vegetables—like carrots, dried cranberries and grapes—in one container stops those healthier foods from being ignored. "They're more likely to eat the vegetables if they're with the fruit," she says. "It's the kids' version of a salad."
If you have raised a "PB&J only" child but find out that her classmate has a peanut allergy, Sarah says seed butters—made from things like pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds—are a great alternative. Such spreads are often made in a peanut-free environment.