Dietitian offers tips to packing a healthy, tasty lunch

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In honor of 'Pack Your Lunch Day,' a dietitian gives us creative ways to build a better brown bag meal.

In case you missed it, March 10th was "Pack Your Lunch Day," a reminder that bringing a meal from home can be cheaper and healthier for you.

Dietitian Patricia Bannan reminds us it doesn't take much to makeover your lunch.

"Sometimes it can be as simple as instead of your typical sandwich, rolling something in a tortilla or cutting into sushi-size pieces," Bannan said.

Not every meal has to look like the government food pyramid, but you do want some good protein, fat and complex carbohydrate.

Not only will you have a balanced lunch, but it's more apt to stay with you a while.

"You can include all your food groups. You want some healthy grains in there for sustained energy and concentration. You want some lean protein for staying power and you want some fruits and vegetable that are going to give you those important nutrients and antioxidants for optimal health," Bannan said.

All reasons why a sandwich works, but you can do better than traditional turkey.

Try a cheese sandwich, but add sliced tart apple and spicy mustard to mix things up all on whole grain bread.

Tuna salad is a good staple, but roll it up in a tortilla for different taste and texture.

Sunflower seeds, almond butter even hummus are all good options for a peanut butter sandwich.

Since we also eat with our eyes, make lunch colorful.

"You can do something as simple as a fruit and cheese kabob," Bannan said.

Fun for kids to assemble, kabobs offer sweet, creamy and crunchy flavors.

Kids of all ages want the food to be appealing. Instead of throwing away bags, go green.

Planet Box has reusable containers of all shapes and sizes.

Don't forget treats, which Bannan recommends.

"Whether it's a few chocolate chips in your diet or a cookie... (desserts can) possibly make you less likely to hit the candy machine later," Bannan said.

Finally, make room in the fridge and cut food waste by using last night's dinner leftovers for lunch.

Bannan suggests packing it right after dinner when your stomach is full and the kitchen is ready for cleanup.

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