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Easy and Healthy Children’s Lunch Ideas
You want to send your kids off in the morning with a lunchbox of healthy food. Problem is, sometimes when you open their lunchbox after school, half the food is right where you left it – untouched! Now you’re not sure whether your children have the right nutrition to carry them through the school day.
It’s no secret that when it comes to food, kids can be tough to please. So when it comes to their lunch, how do you make sure they’ll eat it, especially all that “good-for you” stuff?
Here are a few handy tips to make healthy school lunches your kids will actually want to eat!
Five Ways to Make School Lunches Easier
Involving your kids in planning and making school lunches is a great way to help them build their own healthy eating habits. Plus, if they help make it, they’ll be more likely to eat it!
1. On the weekend, plan school lunches with your kids for the week ahead. Try to include three of the four food groups in every lunch.
2. Stock up on healthy grab-and-go foods like fruit, vegetables, whole grain pita pockets, yogurt, and hard-boiled eggs.
3. Use dinner leftovers to make quick and easy lunches the following day.
4. Prep as much of the lunch as you can the night before. Spend a few extra minutes when preparing dinner to cut up extra veggies and fruit for tomorrow’s lunch.
5. Get the kids involved. Let them plan the menu, write the grocery list, shop for food, and make the lunches… with your help of course! Kids who help make and pack their lunch are more likely to eat it too.
Lunch Ideas Your Kids Will Love
Keeping your kitchen stocked with healthy grab-and-go foods from the four food groups can help you whip up a quick, healthy lunch in no time!
• ready-to-eat veggies like carrots and cucumbers fruit like apples, bananas, or oranges
• fruit cups (fruit salad packed in juice, applesauce, mandarin oranges, pears, peaches)
• single servings of lower-fat milk or 100% fruit juice
• lower-fat yogurt
• small packets of dried fruit like raisins or cranberries
• whole grain crackers or mini-pitas
• hard-boiled eggs (they keep for one week in the fridge with their shells on)
Healthy Cafeteria Options
Making lunches for your kids helps fuel their bodies and minds at school. But if you know they plan on eating in the cafeteria or getting take-out, it’s a good idea to share these tips to help them choose a healthier lunch.
• Make your order healthier by asking for extra veggies (raw or steamed).
• Order a smaller portion or share your meal with friends.
• Order foods that are lower in calories, fat, sugar, and sodium. For example, choose salad instead of fries, or grilled meat and fish over fried chicken fingers and fish sticks.
• Ask for gravy, sauces, and salad dressing “on the side,” and use only a small amount.
Keep Foods Safe to Eat
Young children (ages five and under) are at an increased risk of food poisoning. Older kids can get sick because of harmful foodborne bacteria too. Here are a few tips on packing safe school lunches to help keep all your children happy and healthy.
• Use insulated food containers to keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. For hot foods, fill your insulated container with boiling water and let it sit for a few minutes. Heat hot foods until piping hot. Empty the water in the container and fill with the heated food.
• For cold foods, use mini ice packs or pack a juice box that has been frozen overnight. The juice should defrost by lunch, just in time to drink.
• Wash fruit and vegetables before packing.
• Keep lunches in the fridge until you’re ready to leave for school.
• Throw out any perishable foods that come home. They are not safe to eat.
• Wipe lunch bags daily with hot, soapy water.
Hungry for more?
Visit www.healthycanadians.gc.ca/eatwell for more information and additional resources.