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Feature Articles: Eating Well


Simple ways to keep meals and snacks healthy

Tammy Roberts, MS, RD, LD, Nutrition and Health Education Specialist, University of Missouri Extension


Make it your goal to offer healthful meals and snacks whether it is at home or in lunches and snacks you send with your children.


Sandwiches are always a favorite for a quick meal.


  • Good choices include lean meats such as turkey, lean ham and lean beef.
  • Other options include tuna salad and chicken salad made with light mayonnaise that you can make ahead of time and have in the refrigerator for easy access.
  • Peanut butter and jelly is an old favorite. You can also try a new combination like peanut butter and banana sandwiches.
  • For interest, have small bagels or pita bread available so children can build their own sandwich creations. Tortillas can also be used for a change so you can turn any type of sandwich into a roll-up or sandwich burrito.
  • Remember to make half your grains whole!
    • Tortillas, bread and some bagels are available in whole wheat.
    • Whole grain crackers are great with chicken and tuna salad.


Instead of junk food, have fruits, vegetables and dairy options on hand for snacks.


  • Yogurt is often a favorite and always a good choice. Place the cartons in the refrigerator so they are easy to see.
  • String cheese is a great choice for snacks or lunches that are packed and eaten away from home.
  • Watermelon, cantaloupe and honeydew melons can be cubed and kept in a bowl for easy access for the kids.
  • Carrot and celery sticks and cucumber slices can be stored in plastic bags so they are easy to see and access. Keep a low-fat veggie dip available as well — veggies often seem better with dip.
  • You can also try making your own snack mixes, and have the kids help. USDA’s Eat Smart Play Hard campaign offers this recipe:
    • 1 cup raisins
    • 1 cup peanuts
    • 1 cup pretzels
    • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
    • Mix all of the ingredients together and then bag them up into individual servings for a quick, healthy snack.


Remember to have a way to keep cold foods cold. An insulated lunch box with a frozen ice pack works well. Another option is to freeze a bottle of water, which will keep the foods cool and will be cold for your child to drink at lunch. You can also freeze juice boxes for this purpose, but always make sure they are 100% fruit juice.


Planning ahead is always the key to assuring you and your children will have healthy meals and snacks. When you are making your shopping list, let the children make choices from the list of healthful foods you are willing to provide.


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Last update: Thursday, June 21, 2012