Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Brown Bag Tips from Jennifer Garner & Other Lunch Lessons

Empty calories are expensive, but every year we spend billions on fast-food treats. Brown bag lunches and snacks are healthy and money-saving options for some parents, including a few celebrities. For example, in this photo from People magazine, Jennifer Garner and her toddler are pulling treats from a crinkled brown bag.

Jennifer Garner and 1-year-old-daughter Violet brown bag their snacks as they enjoy a playdate at a Santa Monica park on Monday.

Likewise, I watched a 60-something grandmother give her four-year-old granddaughter apples, chips and sandwiches from a brown bag yesterday on an Amtrak train. While many other passengers visited the snack car, the grandmother and the little girl were content with their brown bag treats.

American spent over $110 billion for fast food in 2004, compared to $3 billion in 1970s. That's a lot of fat food, according to Lunch Lessons, a book about healthy and fun lunchbox treats for kids by Ann Cooper and Lisa M. Holmes.
At, the authors have recipes and tips for healthy lunches. The recipes seem a little high-maintenance, albeit interesting & tasty. For instance, recipes include directions for Asian Chicken Salad with Miso Dressing. provides links to other nutrition, food safety and organic produce websites. Here are a few tips:

# Incorporate at least one new ingredient in your student’s lunch that is fresh, healthy, and local.
# Take children to a farmers market to meet local food producers and learn about the importance of fresh, healthy, local foods.
# Invite a local chef to prepare a classroom snack using fresh, local ingredients.
# Invite local farmers and food producers to visit the school and talk to students about the fresh foods they grow.
# Organize a farmer’s market in the school parking lot where school professionals and families can purchase fresh, healthy food and learn about the importance of buying local.
# Encourage school professionals and families to contact school food decision-makes and encourage them to make fresh, healthy, local foods a key component of the school food program.
# Be creative!
-- source: Tips from Lunch Lessons



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