MAMA PICKS: packing a healthier lunch

Mornings can be hectic and mamas don't always have all the time in the world to consider what goes into their children's lunches. Sure, it might be easy to grab one of those pre-packaged items from the grocery store or even easier just to hand the kid a fiver and have them pick out their own lunch at school. But a health-conscious, home packed lunch really is the best way to go and it doesn't have to be a chore. Here are a few ideas of pre-packaged products that are healthy and convenient:

Lifeway's Probugs Organic Whole Milk Kefir (think yogurt) for kids with fun characters and flavors even the pickiest eaters will like. Not only is it high in protein and calcium, it has added Inulin for optimum calcium absorption. Plus it has 10 live and active cultures (friendly bacteria) to help their little bellies and immune system stay healthy.

If you live near a Von's/Safeway, O Organics has a huge line of great organic snacks for lunches. We love the bite-size cheese crackers - a delicious, crispy cracker that carries real cheddar flavor in every bite. They also have some great fruit snacks made from 100% organic fruit, with no artificial colors or flavors.

Pirate's Booty are a great alternative to potato chips. Made from all-natural puffed corn that is baked instead of fried, they are crunchy and delicious, in flavors like cheddar cheese, veggie, and bermuda onion. And if your kids are fans of the orange day-glo cheese puffs, try Pirate's Booty's version in natural white chedder.

GoPicnic MightyMunch kids meals are packed with fun, tasty, kid-tested foods that are nutritious AND delicious! Each kids meal is shelf-stable and balanced to limit overall fat, saturated fat and sugar content, and contains protein, grains & fruit as well as a sweet treat and a fun surprise. Best of all, their food contains no trans fats, high fructose corn syrup, MSG, artificial flavors or artificial colors.

GoGo squeeZ is the first squeezable, re-sealable, natural, healthy, on-the-go fruit snack for kids. The new GoGo squeeZ has five different applesauce flavors (apple, strawberry, cinnamon, banana, and peach). It's a fun and convenient way for kids to have a healthy treat. One Pouch is equal to one fruit serving, but because they are shelf-stable and easy to eat, it's a great on-the-go option.

If your kids are fans of the PBJ, there is a way to make it a healthy option. Using whole-wheat bread, choose a natural peanut butter like Santa Cruz Organic® Peanut Butters. They are made with USDA certified organic peanuts and have unique flavor profiles made up of both light and dark roast varieties in crunchy or creamy, with no added sugars or hydrogenated oils. For jelly, try Crofter's Superfruit Spreads. Stuffed with a pound of premium organic fruit, this new line of Superfruit Spreads includes four unique fruit combinations, sourced from around the world. Each certified organic spread is sweetened with fair trade sugar and contains one-third less sugar thann regular jam.

If your child is pining for a juice box, R.W. Knudsen Family® Sensible Sippers provide a convenient way for parents to lower the amount of sugar and calories their children consumer since these juice boxes are made with 50% organic juice and 50% water. Each contains 40% less calories than traditional juices boxes and the 4-ounce boxes make it easier for tot’s petite hands to handle.

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