Diet

Lunch box: be inspired every time!

Preparing a healthy lunch that kids will love is not always an easy task. This is why Nathalie Regimbal decided to reveal some of her secrets!

Your child asked you for a jam sandwich on white bread but you don’t want to give in. You told him many times that a lunch box has to be filled with healthy foods if he wants to be strong but you can’t find any inspiration when it is time to prepare it. What can you do? We have basic two-step instructions for you.

Step one: Instructions

The first step consists in explaining to your child why you are filling his lunch box with varied and healthy food. We suggest concrete examples related to his reality.

The child moves…

Tell your child that dairy products give him strong bones and he needs strong muscles to move those big bones! Meat and alternatives (red beans, tofu, etc.) will help him develop his muscles. Also, the vegetables, fruits and cereals will give his muscles the energy needed to move during physical education classes and recess.

The child focuses…

Vegetables and fruits supply energy to the brain. Explain him that they will help him stay focused, to think fast and to find answers! Also, meat and alternatives, dairy products and whole grain cereals turn off the hunger switch because they contain proteins or fibres. So these foods will keep him focused on the teacher, not on his rumbling stomach.

Step 2: find ideas

After explaining, you can sit with your child to find ideas to fill the lunch box. It is important to have fun while doing this. If your child doesn’t feel like it or if he is too young, don’t force things… it must be a GAME!

How to proceed?
  • Spread all the grocery stores leaflets and flyers on the table (President's Choice, IGA, Metro)
  • Also put photocopies of all your warm or cold recipes that can be kept in a thermos or that can be heated in a microwave. 
  • Write on a paper the four food groups suggested by Canada’s food guide: Vegetables and fruits, grain products, milk products, meat and alternatives.
  • Take each group in turn and write nutritious ideas, recipes and foods that he likes.
Vegetables
  • Ask your child what vegetables he prefers as a side dish.
  • Suggest raw and cooked vegetables, in big chunks or little slices, etc. All of those details seem trivial but it can make the difference between vegetables eaten or left in the lunch box.
Fruits
  • Ask your child what fruits he likes.
  • Suggest whole fruits, cut in pieces, peeled, quartered, diced, sliced, stewed, etc.
Grain products
  • Ask your child what grain products he likes. 
  • Suggest rice, barley, millet, couscous, pasta, etc. with dressing, mayonnaise, on their own, hot or cold, etc.
Milk products
  • Ask your child if the milk you offer him is cold enough.
  • Suggest yogurt, cottage cheese, cheddar, etc.
  • Suggest soymilk beverages.
Meat and alternatives
  • Ask you child what are his favourite meats and alternatives.
  • Suggest meat and alternatives in a sandwich, in a salad, in a cold or warm side dish, etc.
  • Suggest adding legumes, meat, poultry, fish and tofu in a sandwich or on the side to dip crackers or a pita…
  • Suggest new foods like sushi, spring rolls, etc.
Snacks

Ask your child what kind of snacks he likes. His choices will probably depend on his activities and the time he has to eat it.

Treasure all this information and place it in a file because it will help you write down your grocery list and find inspiration!

Nathalie Regimbal
Nutritionnist

Nathalie Regimbal is a dietician-nutritionist and mother of 3 kids. She oversees Manger Futé, a team of people passionate about diet that empowers those who want to feed children healthily. To demystify nutrition and diet, Nathalie gives advice on the show La Cantine on Channel V. In addition to her collaboration with Mamanpourlavie.com, you can read her articles in several print and online magazines. Among others, she is a collaborator in nutrition for Yoopa and Célébrons magazines. To make meal time easier for families and initiate kids to cooking, Nathalie has worked hard to write inspiring books: the best-seller Du plaisir à bien manger… 80 recettes gagnantes pour les familles, and the Mandoline series of illustrated cook books for children, the latest one having just won the prestigious prize of the best French Healthy cooking book from the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards 2010. To help with meal preparation in daycare centres, the team of dieticians at Manger Futé offers classes and coaching. Manger Futé has also published the practical guides Élaborez rapidement un menu équilibré dans votre service de garde and Élaborez rapidement une politique alimentaire. Discover Nathalie Regimbal's books: Du plaisir à bien manger – 80 recettes gagnantes pour les familles Mandoline – J’ai ça dans le sang! Mandoline – Développe tes défenses naturelles!

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