Lunches that pack a punch

Two months into the school year and most parents are already running out of ideas for their childrens lunches…a little creativity and some suggestions from a nutrition professional may be just what you need.

Studies have shown that students that eat regularly have greater attention span and perform better at school.

“Lunch is so important for the body and brain,” says Elsie Azevedo, a Registered Dietitian with the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit. “With a bit of pre-planning and a variety of foods, you can take heart in knowing you are making healthy lunches that make the nutritional grade.”

Here are a few tips on making it easier –

  • Preplanning – create a simple weekly menu and write a shopping list each week.
  • Preparation – make the lunches the night before to avoid that last minute panic in the morning.
  • Variety – use a variety of foods – ideally, 3 food groups in the lunch and 2 food groups in the snack each day. The Canada Food Guide has age-specific recommendations to follow.
  • Child participation – get your children to help with ideas for healthy snacks and lunch requests – it helps with variety and increases the chance that the lunch will get eaten!

Healthy Lunch examples –

  • “Pita pizzas” – whole-grain pitas or wraps filled with shredded lettuce and carrots, salsa and cheese. Tuna or egg salad bagels – tuna or egg mixed with mayonnaise, onion and seasonings on a whole grain bagel and topped with vegetables
  • Cold-cut roll ups (lean, low-fat turkey, ham, or roast beef with low-fat cheese on whole wheat tortillas)
  • Cold pizza (shredded mozzarella cheese with pizza sauce on a flour tortilla, whole wheat pita, English muffin, or mini pizza shell)
  • Cracker sandwiches (whole-grain crackers filled with low-fat cream cheese or peanut butter and jelly)
  • Peanut butter and celery sticks
  • Veggie sticks with low-fat dip or dressing
  • Optional dessert (choose one): flavored gelatin, low-fat pudding, oatmeal raisin cookie, graham crackers, fresh fruit, yogurt cups

Add milk, water or 100% juice for a well-rounded meal.

Extra ideas – Try soups and salads, and don’t forget last night’s leftovers as an easy lunchbox filler.

Check out these websites for even more ideas:

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