msnbc.com
updated 8/16/2005 9:06:55 AM ET 2005-08-16T13:06:55

Kids want a tasty meal that can be eaten quickly. Parents want a meal that can be made quickly, but isn't full of empty calories.

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Three experts — food consultant Ellen Briggs, Madelyn Fernstrom of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center's Weight Management Center, and Debra Gill of St. Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston, N.J. — offer their suggestions for 10 balanced lunches. These meals have an emphasis on protein for muscle energy, complex carbohydrates for sustained energy, essential fatty acids, and fiber.

Most can be prepared the night before.

MONDAY
Whole-grain, trans fat-free crackers
Low-fat white cheese slices or mozzarella sticks (such as Cabot or Organic Valley)
Baby carrots
Cereal bar (such as Health Valley Fruit Cobbler)
Bottle of spring water or vitamin water

TUESDAY
Peanut butter sandwich on whole-grain bread (use peanut butter with just peanuts and a little salt)
Apple, whole or sliced (preserved in lemon juice and wrapped in a paper towel to prevent discoloration)
Celery sticks
One box of raisins
Packaged graham cracker sticks
Jello pudding pack

WEDNESDAY
Half a piece of pita bread, opened
Canola mayonnaise (spread inside pita bread)
Slice of additive-free chicken or turkey
Lettuce leaves (dark green)
Paprika (sprinkle on poultry slices)
Apple (yellow or red delicious)
Vanilla enriched rice milk (lunch box size)

THURSDAY
Whole-grain tortilla
Spread (such as canola or Earth's Best) on one side of tortilla
Last night's leftovers (placed on half of tortilla and rolled up)
Dried fruit (fruit leather or combination of dried cranberries, raisins and bananas)
Bottle of spring water or vitamin water

FRIDAY
Whole-wheat wrap (spread with peanut or soy-“nut” butter and sliced bananas or sugar-free preserves)
Small bowl of berries and/or sliced melon (with colored toothpicks for fun)
Celery sticks and baby carrots (or pickles if child prefers)
Small container of skim milk
Lollypop, Tootsie pop or two sucking candies, such as Nips, butterscotch or Cream Savors


MONDAY
Low-fat, whole-grain crackers
Reduced fat cheese stick
Sliced red peppers and baby carrots
Low-fat packaged milk (such as Horizon Organic)
Grapes

TUESDAY
Pre-packaged South Beach meal wrap
Low-fat yogurt (such as Stonyfield or Brown Cow)
Nut snacks (almonds or sesame seeds) or trail mix
6 ounces of 100 percent juice (such as Apple & Eve)

WEDNESDAY
Chicken or turkey and lettuce pita sandwich
Red delicious or yellow apple
Cereal bar
Vanilla enriched rice milk
100 calorie package mini-Oreos

THURSDAY
Whole-wheat tortilla
2 slices low-fat bologna or soy-based meat
Reduced-fat cheese stick or shredded cheese
Fruit cup (packed in fruit juice with no added sugars)
Animal crackers

FRIDAY
Slice of leftover plain or veggie pizza
100 percent fruit sauce (apple, apricot or fruit mix)
Frozen low-fat yogurt (will thaw by lunchtime)
Unsweetened fruit water or vitamin water
Cookies (such as Newman-O's, Barbara's Snackimals, or Joseph's Sugar-Free)

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