Five tips for packing a healthy school lunch

A healthy lunch will ensure that your child is equipped to get through the day

School lunch is essential to the health and well-being of learners and ensures that children get the nutrition they need throughout the day to learn, focus and concentrate.

Packing lunches for your back-to-schoolers is no easy task. It takes time and planning. Plus, every parent knows that just because you pack it, doesn’t guarantee your kids will actually eat it.

However, this doesn’t mean that you fill your kids’ lunchboxes with pizza and junk food everyday.

Food Research and Action Centre, and Smart Cooking offer these five tips for how to pack a nutritious lunch that your kids will look forward to eating and these will also leave you feeling good.

1. Get Your Kids Involved
Give your kids healthy food options from each food group and let them make the final decisions on what goes in their lunch.
You can also take your child grocery shopping with you and let them have a say (to a certain extent) on what goes into the shopping trolley. This promotes feelings of responsibility and empowerment.

2. Nutrition is important
It goes without saying that what kids eat for lunch is just as crucial as everything else. Lunch needs to provide kids with energy that will get them through the rest of their classes and beyond. The most nutritionally sound and satisfying lunch should include at least one serving of each of these food groups: vegetables, fruit, grains (preferably whole wheat), lean protein, and low-fat dairy. You can mix and match items from each of these food groups to get a balanced lunch that will be different every day.

3. Make your own snacks – and limit processed ones
Kids rely on snacks to keep their energy up, but the type of snack is important to consider. Packaged snacks such as cereal bars tend to lack important nutrients and can be high in sugar, sodium and saturated fats. Take control of what is in your kids’ snacks by making them yourself. Popcorn is a good example of a snack you can make yourself.

4. Make lunches that are tasty
What good is nutritious food if kids won’t eat it?! Keep lunch flavourful by providing in-season ripe fruit, roasted vegetables if your kids won’t eat raw (roasting brings out the sweetness), cooked meats and grains made with herbs and spices, and flavored yogurts or milk if the kids don’t like plain. 

5. Encourage hydration
It’s recommended that school-aged kids drink between 6-8 glasses of water a day (even more in hot weather or if their activity level is high). Let your child pick out their favorite water bottle and encourage them to drink the whole thing at least twice at school. They’ll be more inclined to do it if they feel like they are completing a challenge.

With these tips in mind, you and your child are ready to kick start the rest of the 2020 academic year. Good luck – and happy packing!