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Take a new look at your lunchbox

Whether it's your child's school lunchbox or something to eat at your desk, it's easy to get caught in a lunchtime rut. Here are a few diabetes-friendly lunchbox ideas to help you shake things up without a lot of extra prep or planning.

Start with dinner. If you're already cooking, make extra. You can just reheat and eat, but you don't have to. 

  • Tonight's roast chicken makes a great quesadilla with a little cheese and sweet red pepper.
  • A baked pasta dish becomes finger food when cut into bite-sized squares and served at room temperature.
  • Extra biscuits or dinner rolls make a welcome substitute for sandwich bread.
  • Add tomato sauce and cheese, and just about any meat and vegetables can top English muffin pizzas.

Think about other ways to repurpose dinner components into a pita filling, wrap or salad.

Now move onto breakfast. Oatmeal, a scrambled egg wrap, a slice of omelet or frittata—these can be delicious, filling and a great vehicle for added veggies or fruit.

DIY snack packs. Kids love appetizer-style lunches, and it's about as easy to put together a tray of crackers or flatbread, cheese chunks, and deli meat or kielbasa, as it is to grab one from the fridge. Plus, doing it yourself can cut down on sodium, fat and sugar (and packaging) while introducing some fresh fruit and vegetables into the mix. Keeping a couple of compartment-style boxes on hand makes it simple.

Bake it on the weekend. The internet is packed with recipes for savory breads and scones filled with cheese and nuts, high-fibre breakfast cookies, veggie muffins and more. Whip up a batch on a Sunday, then freeze half and enjoy the rest during the week.

Two more tips for parents:

  1. Involve the eater. If the lunch is for your child, don't make the job all yours. Even the youngest can help choose different colors to include. As they get older, kids can chop, assemble and pack. Kids are often more likely to eat what they've helped make, and you could probably use the break.
  2. Make it easy. If the choice is between peeling an orange or finishing lunch sooner and heading out for recess, many kids will opt for the playground. Peel or cut up fruit and make sure containers are easy to open to make sure the best parts of the lunch get eaten.

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