BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Schools are back in session across central Alabama, and students are facing a new year of academic challenges. In order to maintain energy and focus in the classroom, it’s important kids learn to properly fuel their bodies through nutrition.

In this week’s “Living Well with Michelle,” Michelle Logan hit the market with registered dietitian Mim Gaines for ways to pack healthy and cost-effective school lunches. 

Gaines said the convenience of buying pre-sliced produce can be a time-saver.

“But for price-wise,” Gaines said. “Economically, it may be more convenient or economical to buy the whole fruit and slice it and put it in your Ziploc bag.” 

Gaines recommended loading up on as many fruits and veggies as possible, but to not skip on a protein. Her recommendations include: 

  • Boiled eggs 
  • Leftovers like baked chicken 
  • String cheese
  • Greek yogurt 

With nutrition in mind, reading food labels is a good way to check for hidden, unhealthy ingredients like added sugar. Gaines recommended trying to keeping meals to under nine grams of sugar. 

“Sometimes the fruit will cause the sugar to be higher, that’s okay,” she said. “What you’re looking for is added sugar. You don’t want that added sugar.”

Watch the video above to see more of the healthy-lunch grocery haul.