Schools are burdened with responsibility when it comes to doing right by our kids, so it’s no wonder they take what shortcuts they can when meeting nutritional needs – things like classifying ketchup as a vegetable serving. Packing cold lunch for your school-age children will not only ensure that they are taking foods that they’ll actually eat (and be able to identify) but you can also make sure they are eating as healthy as possible. You probably aren’t faring much better than a typical hot lunch if you send the average cold lunch with your child consisting of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, potato chips, cookies, and the banana they throw away because it’s “mushy.”

The first major change you can make is switching to whole grain bread. Whole wheat doesn’t have to be full of nuts and grains (although if your kids will eat this bread it’s worth it), and they now have bread on the market that looks like white bread but still has all of the nutritional value of whole grain.

Peanut butter and jelly is not a bad sandwich choice, but if your child is a bologna kind of kid, you can make a major difference in the amount of unhealthy fat and preservatives your child is eating by switching to a low-fat turkey breast deli meat. Another culprit, for both kids and adults, is mayonnaise. Mayo is hard to keep cold enough to be safe, and switching to mustard saves a ton of fat grams and calories!

Potato chips can be replaced with wheat crackers, dried fruit, celery sticks or carrots. Send dessert, but make it a small square of dark chocolate. Ask your kids to help you pack, and make them aware of healthy versus unhealthy choices. By having control over some of the choices, they’ll form lifelong healthy habits.

Looking for a way to make life easier when it comes to cold lunches? iHeartOrganzing and Fabulously Frugal tackle how to make it a painless process that gets your kids involved and gets them eating well.