Dad

Mission: Lunch!

School is starting soon and already you’re wondering how you will handle all those lunches and prepare something new every day so your kids can enjoy varied healthy lunches?

Back to school also means the return of the crazy routine and having to plan for lunch boxes! Who among us hasn’t gotten up one morning at the last minute only to realize that we forgot to pack a lunch the night before and had to hurry to try and piece together a balanced AND attractive meal your child would want to eat for lunch?

Planning

If you already plan a weekly menu, you can begin including interesting and varied options for lunch. Feel free to ask your kids what they want to eat. That way, you can make sure they like what you are offering them and that they will actually eat it. If their choice isn’t as healthy as you would have liked, try to include healthy sides or slightly modify the recipe to make it healthier by incorporating fresh and colorful ingredients that are full of the vitamins their developing bodies need.

Invite them to prepare their lunch with you by assigning easy tasks they can perform easily. It’s always really educational to let children participate in house chores, plus they will be really proud to have prepared their own lunch, which tends to insure they are more willing to eat the fruits of their labor!

What should you pack?

Leftovers are always a great choice and you will have the advantage of already knowing your kids liked their dinner the night before so there is no chance they’ll come back home with their thermos still full. You can also go with classics like sandwiches, soups and cold buffet style meals that include cold cuts, veggies, cheeses and other finger foods they can eat easily.

What’s important to consider when preparing their lunch is that you should include a variety of foods from the four food groups of Canada’s Food Guide to make sure your children get all the important nutrients to help keep them healthy.

Table of the number of Food Guide Servings recommended daily

 

Children

Teenagers

Age (years)

2-3

4-8

9-13

14-18

Sex

Girls and Boys

Girls

Boys

Vegetables & Fruit

4

5

6

7

8

Grain Products

3

4

6

6

7

Milk & Alternatives

2

2

3-4

3-4

3-4

Meat & Alternatives

1

1

1-2

2

3

REMEMBER: Do not forget to respect the rules provided by your children’s school with regards to food allergies!

Tips to offer variety

If you give them leftovers from the previous night, try to think of a way to change it up a little either by adding a salad you prepared or changing the sides or by adding an ingredient like cheese or a different pasta sauce.

Kids love variety so offer them lots so they can choose what to eat and in what order! An interesting option you can explore in order to offer an attractive lunch is to occasionally prepare Bento Box lunches. The Japanese style lunch boxes allow you to serve a variety of food you have decorated or cut into fun shapes.

Dare to use your imagination! Sandwiches are a great classic and you don’t have to always use the traditional egg, tuna or chicken salad either! Explore your cold cuts counter, consider vegetarian sandwich spreads, vary the vegetables and cheeses, try pesto, hummus or other types of flavorful spreads. You’ll be able to keep a list of new favorites that are easy to make.

Need inspiration?

If you’re constantly looking for new healthy recipes to try for lunch or are simply running out of ideas, we have listed some sites that offer really interesting, original and healthy recipes that can inspire you!

Sources: Health Canada and the Canadian Food Guide, The Ministry of Education, Recreation and Sport of Quebec.

This week

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