Published September 2011
By Elizabeth Ailles, RD, Dietitian

For a parent, it is challenging to make lunches that are fast easy and more importantly - that kids will eat. The following are basic tips to help you get started:

  • Get your children involved in making lunches:  Let them pick from a healthy list of choices, have them help make the lunch and clean up.  Kids love to eat what they create.
  • Use the Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide to help plan your lunches. Aim to offer at least one food from each of the food groups - Vegetables and Fruits; Grain Products; Milk and Alternatives; and Meat and Alternatives.  Make a chart to put on your fridge listing the 4 food groups and plan with your child the foods that could be chosen for his/her lunch.
  • Choose a variety of breads such as bagels, pita, rolls, tortillas or crusty rolls to make sandwiches.
  • Speed up the process of making lunches by cutting up extra veggies and fruits or preparing extra food such as pasta or grilled chicken when making supper. It saves both time and clean-up as both meals can be made at once.
  • Practice food safety: Start with clean hands and a clean lunch bag before preparing food, keep hot foods hot with a well-insulated thermos; use cold packs or frozen water/juice to keep cold foods chilled, and keep lunches in the fridge until your child is ready to leave for school.
  • Try new things regularly; it takes a few tries for a child to learn to like new foods. Don’t be afraid to try again and again.

There are many places to find great ideas for you and your children to plan school lunches such as Eat Right Ontario and Dietitians of Canada (DC).

The following are “Quick lunch bag ideas” from Dietitians of Canada website - all food groups are used with each suggestion:

  • Hummus, pita bread wedges, raw vegetables, yogurt, 100% fruit juice
  • Banana muffin, boiled egg, dried apricots, milk
  • Whole grain tortilla filled with tuna salad, celery sticks, fruit canned in juice/water, chocolate milk
  • Leftover pasta with meat sauce, melon cubes, cheese string, water.

Feel free to call Elizabeth if you have any nutrition related questions: 519-633-7989 x 409.