Beat the Boring Lunchbox

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FOOD STYLIST: VIVIAN LIU PROP STYLIST: MOLLY FITZSIMONS

The first day of school has come and gone, and now it's time to go grocery shopping with school lunches in mind. Just as adults do, kids crave variety, options and creativity in their everyday meals and especially in their lunchboxes. This year, avoid untouched lunches and hungry, unfocused kids by replacing tired selections with new and fun choices sure to please even the pickiest eaters.

Switch up the predictable rotation of turkey-cheese and peanut butter-jelly sandwiches with Ellie Krieger’s kid-approved Rainbows and Butterflies Pasta Salad (pictured above) from Food Network Magazine. Made with whole-grain pasta and loaded with veggies and calcium-rich cheese, this colorful salad will be a welcomed surprise in a lunchbox that's usually filled with soggy sandwiches.

For a healthful alternative to carrots and ranch dressing, pack Food 2’s recipe for Fresh Fava Bean Hummus and a baggie full of celery sticks, olives or pears for dipping. The hummus is made with fresh lemon juice and herbs, and your kid will not even notice the extra veggies he’s eating (and enjoying).

Skip sugar-laden fruit cups and opt for eat-with-your-hands Colorful Fruit Kabobs from Food.com. String any variety of chopped or whole fruit pieces on rounded-edge skewers for easy packing and portability. Aim for fresh, in-season fruit whenever possible to offer the most naturally sweet and vitamin-packed snack.

Instead of packaged rice cereal treats, make a batch of quick and easy Chocolate-Peanut Butter Crispies from Cooking Channel. Easily made in single-serving mini muffin tins, these indulgent bites are the ideal way to wish good luck on a tricky spelling test.

Read more of Food Network’s suggestions for going back to school and packing not your ordinary school lunch.

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