School Lunches: Healthier Supermarket Options (cont.)

100-Calorie Sun Chips Mini Bites
Serving size: 100-calorie pouch
Pluses: This product lists whole-wheat and whole-oat flour among its first five ingredients. It contains less fat than most "light" potato chip options. And of the 4.5 grams of total fat it contains per serving, 2.5 grams are the preferable monounsaturated fat.
Minuses: This product doesn't contain enough whole grains to give it more than 1 gram of fiber per serving.
Nutrition information per serving: 100 calories, 2 g protein, 12 g carbohydrate, 4.5 g fat, 0.5 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat, 1 g fiber, 110 mg sodium.

What to Pack for Lunch: Sweet Foods

Motts Healthy Harvest -- No Sugar Added
(Comes in Blueberry Delight and Country Berry flavors.)
Serving size: 3.9-ounce individual cups.
Pluses: No sugar is added to this fruit sauce. The first few ingredients in the Blueberry Delight flavor are apples, apple puree concentrate, and blueberry puree. Each cup contains 25% of the daily value for vitamin C, too.
Minuses: They only come in two fun flavors.
Nutrition information per serving: 50 calories, 0 g protein, 13 g carbohydrate, 11 g sugar (from apples and fruit puree), 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 1 g fiber, 0 mg sodium.

Del Monte Individual Fruit Cups/Cans (in 100% Juice)
(Options include mixed fruit, diced peaches, and pineapple tidbits.)
Serving size: 4-ounce individual snack-size cups/cans.
Pluses: It's another way to work some fruit into your child's lunch.
Minuses: Dietary fiber is less than 1 gram per serving. It might not be as much fun to eat, but your child would do better to eat a larger serving of fruit without the juice.
Nutrition information per serving: 50 calories, 0 g protein, 13 g carbohydrate, 12 g sugar (from fruit and juice), 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, less than 1 gram fiber, 10 mg sodium.

Quaker 25% Less Sugar Granola Bars
(The two best flavor choices, in my opinion, are Chocolate Chip and Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip.)
Serving size: Individually wrapped bars (24 grams each).
Pluses: Both of these flavors contribute 3 grams of fiber and 10% of the Daily Value for calcium per bar. They have a very kid-friendly flavor and texture.
Minuses: These bars definitely have less sugar than other chewy granola bars, but they still have 20% calories from sugar.
Nutrition information per serving: Chocolate chip flavor = 100 calories, 1 g protein, 17 g carbohydrate, 5 g sugar, 3.5 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 3 g fiber, 75 mg sodium.

Kashi Tasty Little Chewies
(Comes in two flavors, Trail Mix and Honey Almond Flax.)
Serving size: Individually wrapped bars (35 grams each).
Pluses: Both bars add 4 grams of fiber and 6 grams of protein to lunch. Each has fewer calories from sugar than many other granola bars. They range from 14% to 17% calories from sugar, depending on the flavor.
Minuses: These bars might look or taste too "different" to appeal to some kids.
Nutrition information per serving: 140 calories, 6 to 7 g protein, 19 to 20 g carbohydrate, 5 to 6 g sugar, 5 g fat, 0.5 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 4 g fiber, 15 to 115 mg sodium.

Nabisco Nutter Butter Chewy Granola Bars 100-Calorie Packs
(Also comes in other flavors, such as Chips Ahoy!)
Serving size: Individually packaged bars.
Pluses: This 100-calorie bar delivers 2 grams of fiber, which is 2 grams more than many chewy bars offer.
Minuses: Each bar contains 6 grams of sugar. However, this translates to 24% calories from sugar, which is better than many other chewy bars.
Nutrition information per serving: 100 calories, 2 g protein, 21 g carbohydrate, 1.5 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 2 g fiber, 6 g sugar.

Quaker Granola Bites -- Peanut Butter (Also comes in other flavors, such as cinnamon and chocolate.) Serving size: 20-gram pouches. Pluses: Whole-grain rolled oats is the first ingredient; each pouch contains 2 grams fiber. Minuses: Sugar is the second ingredient listed on the label (although the product contains 27% calories from sugar), and hydrogenated palm kernel oil is the third (each pouch contains 2.5 grams saturated fat and 0 grams of trans fat.) Nutrition information per serving: 90 calories, 2 g protein, 14 g carbohydrate, 3.5 g fat, 2.5 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat, 2 g fiber, 6 g sugar.

Fuelers Energy Cookies (Pacific Foods) -- All Natural Chocolate Chips
(Comes in other flavors such as Oatmeal Raisin and Peanut Butter.)
Serving size: 1.2-ounce packages.
Pluses: Whole-grain flour is the first ingredient; each serving contains 3 grams of fiber.
Minuses: Corn syrup is the second ingredient; each serving contains 12 grams of sugar (37% calories from sugar).
Nutrition information per serving: 130 calories, 5 g protein, 21 g carbohydrate, 4.5 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 0 grams trans fat, 5 mg cholesterol, 3 g fiber, 12 g sugar. Each serving also contains 25% Daily Value for calcium, 10% for vitamin D, around 25% for the B-vitamins, 10% for vitamin E.

What to Pack for Lunch: Entrees

For those mornings when you refuse to spread and slice one more sandwich, there are a few new lunch entree options on the supermarket shelf.

Foster Farms Chicken Strips
(The two flavors that were lowest in sodium are Grilled Chicken Breast Strips and Southwestern Seasoned Strips.)
Serving size: Each 6-ounce sealable package contains two 3-ounce servings.
Pluses: This is an easy way to add some chicken to the pita sandwich or chicken Caesar salad you're packing in the morning. It also offers something different from the usual "cold cut" lunch fare.
Minuses: Even though these are the two flavors lowest in sodium in this product line, they still contribute 460-500 milligrams per serving. You might want to avoid pairing these with something high in sodium, such as salty crackers.
Nutrition information per serving: 100 to 110 calories, 19 to 22 grams protein, 1 g carbohydrate, 1.5 to 2 g fat, 0.5 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat, 25 to 50 mg cholesterol, 0 g fiber, 460 to 500 mg sodium.