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It's hard to believe but school opening is fast approaching. The department stores that were once filledwith bathing suits, goggles, and beach balls are being replaced with school bags, notebooks, pencils, crayons, etc. Two weeks from now, your little ones will be taking those first steps away from home, and moms may feel harried in providing healthy packed lunches.

As school starts, FNRI-DOST offers some ideas to avoid the "back to school blues" especially in preparing packed lunch or baon for your kids. The key is to make sure your child is getting wholesome and nutritious foods outside your home.

- Think about your childrens baon ahead. Healthy school lunches can be easy when you plan ahead. Plan your kids baon a week in advance and give them lots of healthy selections to choose from. This will teach them to develop the habit of making choices for themselves.

- Packed lunches should have three to four food groups represented to fuel them through all of the school days activities e.g. rice + fried chicken + buttered or boiled vegetables + fruits in season.

- Prepare easy-to-pack and carry dishes like fried fish, chicken or pork, or pork adobo, beef tapa, fish/meat omelette, etc. Include vegetable or fruit as side dish.

- Use a different sandwich filling each day (tuna, cheese, egg, or chicken). Preferably use whole grain breads and low fat mayonnaise or dressing. Add cut up vegetables like lettuce, tomatoes, pipino for added fiber. Prepare sandwich fillings the day or night before to save time in the busy mornings.

- Include milk and fruit juices for beverage. This will help assure your children of a nutritious drink and also save you needless expenses on carbonated beverages. If you include tetra pack fruit juice, keep it in the freezer then put directly in the lunch box it will have thawed by lunchtime and will keep the rest of the food cool.

- Make sure your child is drinking safe, clean and enough water.

- Be concerned with food safety when packing lunches. Use thermal/insulated lunch box to keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. With a good thermal/insulated lunch box, there is no limit to the delicious, nutritious and safe packed lunches for your kids.

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