Lunch can be dreadfully boring if you pack the same brown bag every day. To make matters worse, mornings can be hectic, with everyone getting ready for school and work, leaving little time to make a lunch that’s delicious and good for you.

“It is easy to forgo the lunchbox for the vending machine or fast-food restaurant, which can be less healthy and more expensive,” says Ann L. Albright, PhD, RD, president of health care & education for the American Diabetes Association. “But you can turn lunchtime from the ‘same old, same old’ back to the part of the day you look forward to and make it healthy with a few simple changes.”

A nutritious lunch, as part of a healthy meal plan, can help prevent type 2 diabetes and its complications. The American Diabetes Association offers the following tips to brighten up the brown-bag lunch, while saving time, money and, in some cases, a little sanity.

Step away from the PBJ. While peanut butter and jelly has been a lunchbox tradition for ages, it might produce a yawn from some kids. Change up your sandwich routine by tossing in some sliced fruit, such as apples or avocados. Or leave the bread behind and use low-fat tortillas or pita bread.
 
Make some noise. Crunchy foods can be more satisfying because they take longer to eat. And both kids and adults love any excuse to make noise with their food. Jazz up fresh vegetables with low-fat dips, salsas or chutneys. 

Suggested Reading

Send Kids Back to School With a Healthy Diet
Back to School: 4 Tips for Organic Families
Lunchroom Nutrition: What’s Your School’s Calorie Quotient?