Healthy lunches your student will eat, on a budget

EAST HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Packing up the kids to head to the bus stop as a new school year starts means packing a lunch again. Packing a nutritious lunch on a budget for your student to take to school comes down to two things.

“Preparation and planning,” said nutritionist Nicole Larizza.

That means buying in bulk.

“Then prepare those things and portion them out for the week and really have a big cost savings by doing that,” Larizza said.

As well as choosing healthy options.

“We make it healthy always, always including some kind of fruit and some kind of vegetable without question in every lunchbox,” the nutritionist continued.

Include your child when deciding what to put in their lunchbox.

“I say have a whole list of vegetables, let the children pick which ones they want,” Larizza said. “They don’t have to like all of them, just pick which ones you want and that’s what we will put in the lunchbox.”

A peanut butter sandwich is always an option.

“Start with a whole grain bread and use a natural peanut,” said the nutritionist. “Instead of a jelly, I always recommend a fresh fruit inside of a sandwich.”

There are alternatives to peanut butter.

“There is a very similar spread made from sunflower seeds and it’s a sunflower seed butter, no nuts or tree nuts in it at all,” Larizza said.

She recommends finger food for finicky eaters.

“This is a lean turkey breast with just a small amount of cheese rolled up inside. It really gives them that sustained energy from the protein and the fullness to get them through the school day or the sports activities.”

yogurt is another protein to keep them full.

“Greek yogurt is a great option for that, much better than a conventional yogurt because the Greek is higher in protein.”

To save even more, don’t forget leftovers from last night’s dinner.

“Make it into a roll-up sandwich, take last night’s leftover chicken and some vegetables and roll it up into a wrap. If the kids are younger, we can even make it into pinwheels.”

Buying store brands is another cost-saving step. Larizza says read the labels and choose store brands whenever the ingredient lists are the same. You’ll essentially buy the same product for less money.

For more information, click here or can reach Nicole Larizza at

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