Planning key to serving up healthy school lunch

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Food is fuel, and you want to pack the right fuel as your kids head back to class!

Amber Groeling, a registered dietitian at Stormont Vail in Topeka, says trying to incorporate as many food groups as you can is a good rule of thumb. If kids are bringing their lunch from home, be sure they pack both a fruit and a vegetable.

"Getting a veggie tray on the weekend and packing them into the little baggies - that can be a great way to make it convenient," Groeling suggested.

She also says make it a habit to skip the daily cookies and chips.

"I would say one treat - whether it's a cookie or a small serving of chips.," Groeling said. "It's the portion and how often we're doing that."

Be sure lean protein and whole grains are on the menu, too. Check the labels as a guide.

"The key is fiber - because fiber is going to be what fills us up and keeps us feeling full until the next meal," Groeling said.

To do that, Groelling says think beyond basic white bread and bologna. Easy options like pizza rollups use a whole-grain flat tortilla with Canadian bacon and string cheese. A peanut butter options might use fresh strawberries instead of jelly or jam.

"Fresh strawberries are gonna give you fiber and nutrition, whereas jam is going to be full of added sugar," she said.

For drinks, stick with water or low-fat milk over sugary fruit-flavored liquids.

You can keep lunch healthy - if you don't let it get lost in the rush.

"Planning is key," Groeling said. "The only way you're going to have a healthy school lunch is to plan ahead."

Amber's Roll-up Recipes

Pizza Roll-ups

1 flatout tortilla
2 Tbsp. pizza sauce
3 slices Canadian bacon or 6-8 slices turkey pepperoni
2 string cheese, remove wrapper

Spread the tortilla with the pizza sauce. Evenly distribute the Canadian bacon or pepperoni. Place the string cheese in the center. Roll up and cut into 5 pieces.

PB & Strawberry Roll-ups

1 flatout tortilla
2 Tbsp. natural peanut butter
4-5 strawberries, slices
2 Tbsp. chopped nuts or shelled sunflower seeds, optional

Spread the peanut butter evenly over the tortilla. Place the strawberry slices in a horizontal row about 1/3 of the way down the tortilla. Sprinkle with the chopped nuts if using. Roll up and enjoy.