Holy hairnets! Your child's school cafeteria actually does serve healthier foods than "mystery meat" and fried cheese. Encourage your young gourmand to load up his tray with these picks, from Ann Cooper, nutrition services director for Colorado's Boulder Valley School District and author of Lunch Lessons.
Bean-and-veggie quesadillas. These tend to be made on-site with fresh produce, low-fat cheese, and whole-wheat tortillas. Salsa adds anti-oxidant-rich tomato (which a lot of kids won't touch in its natural state).
Burgers. Ground turkey is ideal, but even school hamburgers aren't a bad choice because they're usually small and contain vegetable filler (a good thing). Of course, it helps if kids forgo cheese, bacon, and fries (at least sometimes).
Pizza. Yep, pizza! Many schools now offer up whole-wheat crusts and top the pies with part-skim-milk cheese. Even if not, a plain or vegetable slice is always a solid lunch standby.
Wraps. Whole-grain wraps filled with turkey, cheese, lettuce, and tomato make for a well-balanced, no-mess meal.
And on the side...
Baked potato. It's a lower-fat choice than mashed or fried.
Low-fat yogurt. It's calcium- and protein-rich.
Baked beans. Just half a cup provides loads of fiber and protein.