Taking the Stress Out of Lunchbox Meals

It's the time of year when kids are back to the classroom -- and parents are back to the kitchen for another year of lunchbox anxiety. But there's no need for packable meals to inspire stress. Here are simple lunches worth a spot in any brown bag, plus some time-saving packaged add-ins that parents can actually feel good about.

Main Meals

Punch up an everyday turkey sandwich with a layer of hummus spread and a mini whole-wheat bagel to hold it all together.

RnB_Pasta_Salad-011f.tif

RnB_Pasta_Salad-011f.tif

FOOD STYLIST: VIVIAN LIU PROP STYLIST: MOLLY FITZSIMONS

Rainbows and Butterflies Pasta Salad (from Food Network Magazine)

Whole-grain pasta, filled with colorful vegetables and edamame, earns full marks for being both well-balanced and enticing.

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PEANUT_SOBA_NOODLES_008.tif

Food stylist: Jamie Kimm Prop Stylist: Marina Malchin ,Food stylist: Jamie Kimm Prop Stylist: Marina Malchin

Photo by: Antonis Achilleos

Antonis Achilleos

Toss together buckwheat noodles, peanut butter and chicken for an all-in-one approach.

Food Network Kitchens recipe for a quick and easy taco lunch to go.

Photo by: Jackie Alpers ©Copyright 2012 Jackie Alpers - All rights reserved

Jackie Alpers, Copyright 2012 Jackie Alpers - All rights reserved

Your child's lunch box dreams just became a reality with tortillas, cheddar cheese, salsa and sour cream.

Food Network Kitchens panko chicken nuggets in a lunchbox.

Photo by: Jackie Alpers ©Copyright 2012 Jackie Alpers - All rights reserved

Jackie Alpers, Copyright 2012 Jackie Alpers - All rights reserved

Add crunch without frying by calling in the panko breadcrumbs. Thread the nuggets on skewers or stuff them in a pita with lettuce and tomato.

Time-Saving Sides

True, whole and sliced fruit and veggies are always easy to pack, but there's nothing wrong with enlisting a few packaged goods to make your life easier.

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Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. She is the author of The Greek Yogurt Kitchen: More Than 130 Delicious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Day.

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