Packing school lunches can be a challenge, especially if this is a new concept to you and your family. Most elementary schools have two breaks (one in the morning and one in the afternoon) and a lunch period at noon. During these periods, kids need to balance time to eat and play. Therefore, when packing lunches it is important to consider nutritious snacks that are easy and quick for kids to eat. Additional considerations to keep in mind when packing snacks/lunches include items that don’t need refrigeration or heating, as microwaves and fridges are often not supplied. Furthermore, many schools have a no garbage policy (meaning all wrappers will be sent back home) and allergy regulations, such as no peanut products. These considerations limit the variety of snacks that your kids can bring to school. If you are thinking then what can my kids eat or are worried about what to pack, we are here to help. This blog will provide you with resources and suggestions for appropriate and nutritious snack/lunch ideas. Although this blog uses typical Western foods, we encourage families to use these ideas to substitute traditional food items in.

Not sure on how much food to send with your kids to school? Use Canada’s food guide from our previous post and divide the daily-recommended intake into 5, breakfast, lunch, dinner, and two snacks. Try to include at least two food groups in each meal or snack. Use this chart to mix and match food groups and see what snacks and meals you can come up with.

Veggies and Fruit    Grain Products Milk and Alternatives Meat and Alternatives
Pepper strips (red, green, yellow) Tortillas, flatbread, nann or pita bread Fruit yogurt or soy yogurt Hard cooked egg
Peas in a pod or snow pea pods Cold or hot cereal* Yogurt dip (tzatziki) for veggies Tuna, salmon or chicken salad flavoured with: curry, onions, light mayo, pickles, apples or dill
Baby corn English muffins Milk or fortified soy beverage* Ham slices
Cherry tomatoes Oatmeal muffins Cheese cubes, cheese string or cheese slices Hummus (tahini and ground chickpea dip)
Melon balls Rice cakes Milk-based pudding Refried or baked beans
Fruit smoothie* Whole grain crackers Cottage or ricotta cheese cups Hard cooked egg
Turnip or zucchini sticks Chappati, roti Milk-based soup* Tuna or salmon sandwich
Cauliflower and broccoli trees Pasta, brown rice, couscous, quinoa Cheese-filled pasta (cannelloni, ravioli)* Steamed soybeans (edamame)
Sliced mango Bread sticks Hot chocolate* Marinated cooked tofu

Chart from EatRight Ontario

Sample Lunch: cauliflower, broccoli trees, and flatbread with hummus and milk based pudding.

Sample Snack: cheese cubes with oatmeal muffin.

healthy-lunch-1                                                       kids-lunch

Make eating more fun! Include kids in making their lunches, have fruit, veggies, and cheese chunks in easy to eat sizes, cut sandwiches into shapes, provide kids with healthy dips, include a surprise or treat. For additional information check out this great resource from the Waterloo Health Unit: School Lunch Your Kids Will Munch. This fact sheet provides great tips and ideas! It provides information on creating your own lunch kits, nutritious and fun to eat snacks, and tips for providing a safe lunch.

Click to access kids_lunches.pdf

Do you have fool proof lunch recipes that your kids love? Please share!