How do you pack a school lunch that’s nutritious-and will still get eaten? As school starts up again, I’ll be facing that challenge every day. Like you, I’m always looking for ways to make lunch fun and healthy. I’ve come up with a few ways to pack some love and nutrition into the lunchbox this year:

* Cheese kabobs: cut mild cheese into bite-size cubes and skewer on a straw
* Dried fruit, or a homemade trail mix combo of dried fruit and nuts
* Baked crackers with portable portion of peanut butter
* Flavored milk, water or 100% juice
* Homemade cookies or bars
* A surprise note with a cheerful

Back to school means more demanding schedules for kids and parents, too. But it’s not hard to keep the cookie jar full of homemade treats for lunch or after school. And it’s fun to make them with your kids! To send them back to school with something sweet, check out more ideas for homemade goodies at VeryBestBaking.com

confetti bars - love in a lunch boxConfetti Bars
(Makes 2 dozen bars)

1 package (16.5 ounces) Nestlé Toll House Refrigerated Chocolate Chunk
Cookie Bar Dough
2 cups miniature marshmallows
1 1/2 cups (about 4 ounces) milk chocolate-covered pretzels broken into pieces
3 tablespoons rainbow sprinkles
1/4 cup Nestlé Toll House Semi-Sweet Chocolate Mini Morsels (optional)

PREHEAT oven to 350° F. Grease a 13 x 9-inch baking pan.

PLACE whole bar of dough in prepared pan. Allow to soften for 5 to 10 minutes. Using fingertips, pat dough gently to cover bottom.

BAKE for 11 to 13 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Sprinkle marshmallows over cookie; bake for an additional 1 to 2 minutes, or until marshmallows are puffed. Distribute pretzels, sprinkles and morsels over marshmallows; press down lightly. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Cut into bars with wet knife.
Nutrition Information per bar: 140 calories, 50 calories from fat, 6 g total fat, 3 g saturated fat, 10 mg cholesterol, 115 mg sodium, 20 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 11 g sugars, 1 g protein

pudding chip cookies - love in the lunchboxPudding Chip Cookies
(Makes 2 dozen cookies)

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 package (4 serving size) instant vanilla, butterscotch or chocolate pudding mix
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 large egg
1 large egg white
2 cups (12-ounce package) Nestlé Toll House Semi-Sweet Chocolate Mini Morsels

PREHEAT oven to 350° F.

COMBINE flour and pudding mix in small bowl. Beat butter in large mixing bowl on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Beat in brown sugar and baking soda until well combined. Beat in egg and egg white. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels. Drop dough by rounded teaspoon 2 inches apart onto ungreased baking sheets.

BAKE for 10 to 12 minutes or until set. Cool on baking sheets 2 to 3 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.
Nutrition Information per cookie: 160 calories, 70 calories from fat, 8 g total fat, 5 g saturated fat, 20 mg cholesterol, 150 mg sodium, 21 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 15 g sugars, 1 g protein


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