Making school lunches day in and day out is no walk in the park. Parents try hard to get the nutrition right and pack foods their kids will eat and even enjoy at school. From grade school to high school, students’ meal and snack choices at school can affect their health, weight and school success – both in the classroom and in extracurricular activities. It’s important that kids actually EAT their lunch and snacks during the school day! Eating approximately every 3-5 hours is ideal for keeping up energy levels and prevent excessive hunger. Here are some timely tips to keep lunches healthy, encourage kids to eat it and save you time with the preparation.
- Think food groups. Aim to have at least 3 out of 4 in your kids’ lunch. Kids love snacks in their lunch bags too. Include at least 2 food groups in snacks. For example, mix easy to eat veggies and a favourite fruit like apples, bananas or melons with cereals or granolas from the grains group.
- Lunch energy comes from carbs, protein & fat, all needed for growth and development.
- Many schools have a nut-free policy. Find out more about the allergy policy at your child’s school and pack ‘allergen friendly’ school safe meals and snacks. MadeGood® Organic Granola Minis and Bars are made in a peanut free and tree nut free facility so they can be safely sent to school.
- Add color, crunch and a dip. The more green, red, white, yellow veggies in the bag the more it will be in your kids tummy! Kids love to dip. Pack hummus, yoghurt or guacamole.
- Build a healthy lunchbox relationship with kids. Ask them how they liked lunch & brainstorm for improvements.
- Stock up on a healthy nutritious food pantry. Great ingredients are whole grain breads/wraps, lean cooked meat, sliced veggies, grated cheese, pre-washed baby spinach, whole fruits like bananas or apples.
- Cook leftovers with a plan. Double your recipes on weekends or at dinners and pack “planned overs” for lunch.
- Keep supplies handy to make lunch packing easier. Have a container drawer, open up a shelf on the fridge.
- Some days kids’ activities at lunch leave them with little time to eat. Portable foods like wraps, or extra easy to eat snacks like granola bars or balls, dried or cut up fruit/veggies work well on such busy days.
- Set aside time in the evening to pack lunches and snacks. You’ll be glad the next morning.
Author: Lucia Weiler is a Registered Dietitian (Nutritionist) and Professional Home Economist with a passion for food, health and wellness. She is the President of Weiler Nutrition Communications Inc. a consulting practice that provides expert services in nutrition trends, education, food safety and labelling compliance. Lucia is a pro at translating the science of nutrition into easy to understand, practical advice for Canadians. She is faculty at Humber College and Member of the Board of Directors for Dietitians of Canada.
For more insightful nutrition tips visit www.weilernutrition.com or follow on Twitter/Instagram @LuciaWeilerRD
References: Duyff, AND Complete Food and Nutrition Guide (2017)