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Healthy and Affordable School Snacks and Lunches | News

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Healthy and Affordable School Snacks and Lunches

Back to school means packing lunches and snacks and sometimes the healthiest choices are not the most expensive.

Children's Healthcare of Atlanta registered dietician Wendy Palmer says families can save close to $2000 per year with some careful shopping.

For example, kids love squeezable applesauce packets but they're close to seven dollars! Instead, Palmer recommends buying unsweetened applesauce in 6 pack containers for less than half the price.

She points out breakfast bars can be just as high in sugar as candy bars, so instead of frosted or yogurt covered bars buy the dry, crunchy ones that are usually less expensive.

She said it's important to check bread labels because some of the bread billed as wheat bread is not actually whole wheat. Instead, it's made with enriched white flour. The ingredient label will list whole grain flour if the bread is 100% whole wheat. Palmer buys whole wheat bread when it's on sale for the same price as cheaper and less healthy white bread. Bread can also be stored in the freezer.

Cereal makes a healthy breakfast or snack if you buy a whole grain, low sugar variety. On a recent trip to Kroger, Palmer found organic versions of a Cheerios type cereal for a dollar less than the conventional variety.

But she also cautions that organic doesn't always equal healthy. "Here's a box of organic toaster pastries," she said. "A Pop Tart is still a Pop Tart, even if it's organic."

What are your ideas for healthy school lunches and snacks? You can post them on Facebook at Valerie Hoff 11Alive or below in the comments section of this article.