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Expert Tips for Packing Healthy Lunches

Watch White House Executive Chef Cristeta Comerford show Amy Boshnack from CafeMom's The Stir how to make healthy, affordable school lunches following the My Plate nutritional guidelines.

Earlier this year, the FDA introduced My Plate, an updated nutritional guideline that offers a new way to think about how we eat, and specifically about how we balance portions. When First Lady Michelle Obama introduced My Plate in June, she highlighted the strengths of the easy to understand icon, saying the plate is “simple enough for children to understand, even at the elementary school level. They can learn to use this tool now and use it for the rest of their lives.”

This week, as parents across the country are getting deep into back to school preparations, the White House kitchen staff has partnered with leading media companies to illustrate how easy it is to use the My Plate guidelines to create healthy, kid-friendly lunches that can be prepared in advance.

In a video series with CafeMom, White House Executive Chef White House Cristeta Comerford shows how easy it is to pack a lunch both you and your kids will love by injecting veggies and variety into the daily mix. And because Cris is a mom herself, she knows that including colorful pieces that are bite size (and dippable) means the lunch is that much more likely to get eaten.  

MyPlate Green

Comerford builds her Plate as prep, and it’s a smart guideline on how to fill a balanced lunchbox. In one video, a plate that’s filled with chopped veggies, cold chicken and pasta becomes a crunchy salad kids can mix together at the lunch table. In another, her My Plate mix is transformed into a sandwich that has the right proportions of veggies, protein and grains.

Sam Kass, the White House’s Assistant Chef and senior policy advisor for healthy initiatives tells  WebMd that it’s important to give your kids some choices in their school lunch. “Kids like to feel like they have the authority to make some decisions for themselves.”

Kass, who works closely with the First Lady and the whole Let’s Move team to help teach kids across America about healthy eating, created five days worth of nutritious lunches that mix flavors, textures and nutrients – and include a daily treat, but no transfats and minimal sugar.

Kass knows that healthy food is more appealing to kids when it tastes good, too and to that end he’s been working on an initiative called Chef’s Move to Schools, that pairs chefs across the country with local schools to improve the options in school cafeterias, making food that looks better, tastes better and is better for kids.  

See Sam's tips here