With the start of a new school year and all the related activities, it can be challenging to find time to pack nutritious lunches that you and your kids will enjoy. While emphasis is often placed on the importance of breakfast, eating a well-balanced lunch provides fuel to keep you energized throughout the day.
Here are five quick tips to help you and your family plan well-balanced lunches:
- Aim for foods from three to four food groups (Vegetables and Fruit, Grains, Meat and Alternatives, Milk and Alternatives). Take a look at Canada’s Food Guide to discover the variety of foods in each food group!
- Include foods that have protein. Foods from the Meat and Alternatives and Milk and Alternatives food groups can be sources of protein. Cook up extra meat, poultry or fish while preparing dinner and add it to a salad or sandwich for lunch the next day. Beans and lentils are also a great option and can be a source of vegetarian protein.
- Include veggies and fruit. To save time, cut up fruits and veggies on the weekend and store them in the fridge to grab-and-go during the week.
- Pack nutritious snack options. Cheese and whole grain crackers, fruit and Greek yogurt, or vegetable sticks with hummus or Tzatziki sauce are delicious, portable options. When purchasing packaged snacks, look for those that are higher in fiber and lower in sugar and sodium.
- Stay hydrated. Choose water or milk more often and drink juice or high sugar beverages sparingly.
Involving your kids in the planning and preparation process can also help encourage those well-balanced lunches to get eaten!
Here are three tips to help get your kids involved:
- Encourage your child to choose their own lunch box and make sure they can open it easily.
- Plan a “lunch menu” ahead of time with your kids. You can even make it into a game! Present a few healthy options and let your kids choose what they would like to eat and on which day of the week.
- Get your kids involved in making their lunch. Let your child build their own wrap sandwich. Great filling ideas include grilled chicken, chicken or turkey slices, tuna, egg salad, cheese and fresh vegetables.