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Back to school lunch ideas: Quick, healthy snacks to pack this year

In fantasyland, every parent has time to prepare gourmet, organic food for their children’s lunchboxes. In the real world, most of us are lucky to get our kids to school with lunches that aren’t loaded with artificial ingredients, trans fats and sugar.

For time-pressed parents, a host of somewhat nutritious prepackaged lunchbox items can help with the morning rush. 

According to a report from the Nielsen Co., a global marketing research firm based in Syosset, 900 new single-serving snack items appeared in produce departments from 2012 to 2016, including single servings of cut-up fruit, dried fruit and nut snack mixes, and fresh smoothies. 

In response to the demand for packable protein, sales of meat snacks such as jerky also have increased, accounting for $2.8 billion in sales last year. While egg sales in general are down, snack packs featuring a hard-boiled egg are flying off the shelves. Nielsen data show that almost as many packs have been sold in the first half of 2017 as in all of 2016. 

Stock your refrigerator and pantry with a variety of these single-serving dips, smoothies, juices and snacks, and you can shave precious minutes off the morning routine. Simply throw a few into the lunchbox and send the kids off with confidence. Almost all major supermarkets stock these items. Prices may vary. 

Organic Valley Snack Sticks

Organic Valley Snack Sticks: Real Cheddar cheese made
Photo Credit: Newsday/John Paraskevas

Real Cheddar cheese made with milk from pasture-raised cows, are individually wrapped for small appetites. Price: Six (.75-ounce) sticks for $5.99

Mott’s Sliced Green Apples

Mott’s Sliced Green Apples: Individual 2-ounce bags of
Photo Credit: Newsday/John Paraskevas

Individual 2-ounce bags of apple slices that stay fresh in the refrigerator for several weeks save time and waste and are perfect vehicles for peanut butter and other nut spreads. Price: $4.69 for six (2-ounce) bags

Starkist Charlie’s Lunch Kit

Starkist Charlie’s Lunch Kit: A tiny can of
Photo Credit: Newsday/John Paraskevas

A tiny can of tuna, six crackers, low-fat mayo and relish come with a wooden spoon for making your own tuna and crackers. Price: $1.99 each

Justin’s Nut Butter Squeeze Packs

Justin’s Nut Butter Squeeze Packs: These little packets
Photo Credit: Newsday/John Paraskevas

These little packets of high-protein almond or peanut butter can be squeezed onto crackers, fruit slices or veggies. Price: $1.39 each

P3 Portable Protein Packs

P3 Portable Protein Pack: With nuts, seeds and
Photo Credit: Newsday/John Paraskevas

With nuts, seeds and beef or ham jerky, these combo packs provide 13 grams of protein, up to 75 percent of the recommended daily requirement depending on the age and weight of your child. Price: $2.19 each

Planters NUT-rition Protein Mix

Planters NUT-rition Protein Mix: Each 250-calorie pack of
Photo Credit: Newsday/John Paraskevas

Each 250-calorie pack of peanuts, granola clusters, almonds and dark chocolate-covered soy nuts has 10 grams of protein (between 25 percent to 60 percent of the recommended daily allowance depending on the weight and age of your child). Price: Five (1.72-ounce) packets for $10.79

Sargento Balanced Breaks

Sargento Balanced Breaks: Packs of Cheddar cheese, cashews
Photo Credit: Newsday/John Paraskevas

Packs of Cheddar cheese, cashews and dried cranberries with 180 calories and 7 grams of protein. Other varieties available. Price: $3.99 for three (1.5-ounce) servings

My Gourmet Tuna

My Gourmet Tuna: Premixed tuna salad with mayo
Photo Credit: Newsday/John Paraskevas

Premixed tuna salad with mayo and veggies comes with Ritz-type crackers for scooping. Price: $3.99 each

Peanut Butter & Co. Dipping Cups

Peanut Butter & Co. Dipping Cups: Small cups
Photo Credit: Newsday/John Paraskevas

Small cups of peanut butter that can be packed with crackers or veggies for an easy lunch or snack. Price: $5.39 for five (1.5-ounce) cups

Wholly Guacamole Minis

Wholly Guacamole Minis: Pack these small servings of
Photo Credit: Newsday/John Paraskevas

Pack these small servings of organic guacamole with chips or veggies. Price: $5.99 for four (2-ounce) servings

Cedar’s Tzatziki Snack Pack With Pretzels

Cedar’s Tzatziki Snack Pack With Pretzels: The pack
Photo Credit: Newsday/John Paraskevas

The pack has 150 calories and 6 grams of protein. Other healthy dips and crackers available. Price: $2.99

Sabra Hummus with Rold Gold Pretzels

Sabra Hummus with Rold Gold Pretzels: Little tubs
Photo Credit: Newsday/John Paraskevas

Little tubs of hummus with 10 grams of protein available in a variety of flavors including classic, red pepper and roasted garlic, accompanied by thin pretzels for dipping. Price: $2.19 each

Horizon Organic Good & Go!

Horizon Organic Good & Go!: Organic Cheddar cheese
Photo Credit: Newsday/John Paraskevas

Organic Cheddar cheese cubes with a mix of raisins, cashews and dried cranberries, have 7 grams of protein. Price: $1.99 each

Capri Sun Fruit & Veggie Blends

Capri Sun Fruit & Veggie Blends: Juice with
Photo Credit: Newsday/John Paraskevas

Juice with no added sugar in combinations such as beet-apple and carrot-sweet-potato. Price: $3.69 for 10 (6-ounce) pouches

Ocean's Halo The Seaweed Snack

Ocean's Halo The Seaweed Snack: An interesting alternative
Photo Credit: Newsday/John Paraskevas

An interesting alternative to chips, with B12 vitamins and iodine. In various flavors including sea salt, sriracha and Texas BBQ. Price: $1.69 each

Crystal Farms Ready Egg Go!

Crystal Farms Ready Egg Go!: The peeled hard-boiled
Photo Credit: Newsday/John Paraskevas

The peeled hard-boiled egg, cashews and Gouda cheese cubes provide18 grams of protein. Price: $2.99

Don’t Go Nuts Roasted Soybean Spread

Don’t Go Nuts Roasted Soybean Spread: Plain, cinnamon
Photo Credit: Newsday/John Paraskevas

Plain, cinnamon and chocolate spreads are good for kids with allergies or at peanut-free schools. Price: $1.69 each

Stonyfield Organic Whole Milk Yogurt

Stonyfield Organic Whole Milk Yogurt: In drinkable pouches
Photo Credit: Newsday/John Paraskevas

In drinkable pouches and in smoothie bar combinations such as pear-spinach-mango and strawberry-beet-berry. Price: $1.49 each

Hormel Natural Choice snack assortments

Hormel Natural Choice snack assortments: A selection of
Photo Credit: Newsday/John Paraskevas

A selection of turkey breast, Cheddar cheese and dark chocolate-covered pretzels (other assortments include ham and chicken), precut into tiny bites for the littlest hands. Price: $2.19 each

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