(StatePoint) Busy families are always looking for efficient ways to pack healthy, satisfying school lunches. Keep kids on their “A” game this year with the following tips.

Get the Kids Involved

Getting your kids involved in packing their lunches is not only a great way to teach responsibility, it’s also an opportunity to discuss the fundamentals of healthy eating – plus with helpers afoot, it may just save you some time and energy.

Kids will enjoy feeling like they have some control over what goes into their lunches. Keep them focused by providing them with structured choices, such as -- turkey and swiss sandwich or cheddar and apple? Carrot sticks or sugar snap peas?

Include Fruit

Fruit is an important part of a child’s nutritious diet, so be sure that lunches include healthy fruit servings. Juice labels can be especially confusing, however, sticking to options made from 100 percent juice is a good rule of thumb. For example, Mott’s Sensibles, available in three flavors in convenient 6-ounce pouches, contain 30 percent less sugar compared to 100 percent apple juices, and contain no artificial flavors, colors or sweeteners.

Another way to include some fruit at lunch? Applesauce. A classic kids’ favorite, today’s applesauce is often healthier and more versatile than it once was. Free of added sugar and artificial colors, sweeteners and flavors, Mott’s Unsweetened Applesauce, for example, comes in flavors like granny smith, strawberry and blueberry, and can be used in lunchtime recipes such as Applesauce Energy Bars or Golden Apple Raisin Squares to boost flavor and nutrition.

Pick the Right Pack

Make your life easy and promote wellness with great lunch gear. Check labels; dishwasher-safe containers will streamline your routine and non-toxic materials will help keep kids healthy and safe. If you plan to include both hot and cold food items, look into ice packs, sturdy leak-proof thermoses and lunch bags or boxes that feature compartments.

Consistently creating great midday meals may sound like a tall order, but with a few go-to essentials and some smart packing strategies, you can help keep kids fueled for more focused learning.

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