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The summer holidays are over and while mums may have breathed a sigh of relief, they now have to worry about the challenge of  packing an enticing but healthy snack box every morning.

Here are some wholesome and quick to prepare lunch options that will keep children energised throughout the school day.

1. Cheesy bake. Combine boiled peas, corn and elbow macaroni in a bowl; season with salt and herbs (optional). Spoon the mixture into muffin cases, sprinkle with grated cheese and bake for 15 minutes at 180°C. Add chicken shreds or tuna to the mixture for a more filling ‘muffin’.
Energy: 350 calories
Prep time: 15-20 minutes

2. Chicken and corn wrap. Toss chicken strips, sweet corn and shredded lettuce with a pinch of salt and black pepper; add grated cheese and roll tightly in a wrap (or thin chapatti). Pack in butter paper or foil to keep fresh and avoid spillage. Boiled, grilled or roast chicken left over from dinner will work well.
Energy: 250 calories
Prep time: 10-15 minutes

3. Cream cheese and veggie sandwich with dates. Layer cream cheese and a variety of vegetables such as thinly sliced cucumbers, grated carrots, baby spinach and lettuce on multigrain bread for a sandwich that is packed with interesting flavours. Add sliced dates for a kick of sweet energy.
Energy: 280 calories
Prep time: 10-15 minutes

4. Fruit wands. Put seasonal fruit (apples, grapes, mangos, melons, peaches, pineapple, strawberries etc.) on to a bamboo skewer for a manageable fruity lunch box treat. Alternate with cubes of cheese for added flavour. You can also cut larger fruit into fancy shapes by using cookies cutters.
Energy: 50-100 calories
Prep time: 10-15 minutes

– Beenish Israr
The writer is a PhD scholar, studying Human Nutrition at the University of Reading, UK. She is also a lecturer of Food and Nutrition at University of Agriculture, Faisalabad, Pakistan. 

First published in the Health Advertiser Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on August 25, 2013.