Think outside the lunch box to make school lunches they’ll love

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“Packed lunches are a great option for families that want to emphasize positive eating habits while controlling costs,” says Lorraine Hale, category director of new Sara Lee Snack Cakes. “Any parent can tell you, however, that it can be a challenge to come up with five different menus every week throughout the school year. Kids are much more likely to eat a lunch that offers a variety of fun and balanced options!”

Here are some ideas for creating appealing, balanced lunches parents will feel good about and kids will want to eat:

* Beverages – Replace sugar-filled regular soda and fruit juices with healthier beverages. Water is simply the best calorie-free, high-hydration beverage, so use it in place of sports drinks or even diet soda. Flavored waters can tickle the taste buds of the pickiest drinkers, without adding calories or sugar. And never pack so-called “energy drinks” in a child’s lunch; many are high in sugar and caffeine, and some school districts have banned them altogether.

* Sandwich bread – There are so many great choices for sandwich making, and whole wheat bread can be part of a nutritious lunch. Get creative incorporating whole grain into your child’s lunch, including breads made from different types of whole grains like oats and barley.

* Sides – Sure, you would love it if your kids munched on fresh cut veggies at lunchtime, but it’s the rare child that has such a refined palate. Most kids would prefer a bag of chips. Want to combine both competing desires? Veggie chips can be a fun, yummy occasional side that kids love. Veggie chips take the chip concept to the next level with enticing colors and flavors, and the crunch that kids love. As a bonus, the chips can be a great way to introduce kids to new vegetables they might not otherwise try like yucca, parsnips and turnips.

* There’s room for dessert – in moderation, like everything else – and a little something sweet can help kids get through the day, either as a sweet ending to lunch or an afternoon snack during the homework crunch. Individually wrapped options like new freshly baked Sara Lee Snack Cakes, from the iconic American brand, make it easy to give kids a perfectly portioned pat on the back for their hard work throughout the school day. Each box of Devil’s Food Crème Cakes, Golden Fudge Cakes and Crumb Cakes contains six or eight individually wrapped cakes, making them easy to include in packed lunches. Visit to learn more.

Finally, think beyond the brown bag; insulated bags are reusable and available in appealing patterns and trendy colors and can help keep lunches at safe temperatures all morning. Be sure to wash out these reusable bags every day, and clean ice packs thoroughly before refreezing them.

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