By: Kelly Atyeo-Fick, B.A.Sc., M.H.Sc., P.H.Ec.
We’re approaching back to school time – which means thinking about packing endless amounts of lunches!
Some questions you may ask yourself when trying to figure out what lunch to send your child to school with may be:
- What’s quick and easy to make?
- What’s something they can eat without much fuss?
- What meals and snacks can you send them that contain the nutrients they need to power through their day?
- What will they actually eat?
- What does their school allow them to bring?
Quick, Easy & Portable
Let’s face it – parents are busy people! Between extracurricular events, homework, sports and lessons, the time between when your child gets home from school to when they go to sleep can fly by. Making lunches isn’t something that should take up your entire evening. At the end of the day, you need some “me” time too!
So – make sure the lunches you prepare are quick and easy.
Try to make lunches right after dinner when the kitchen is already in use. Why waste time putting cutting boards away only to have to use them again? This will save you a lot of time and you can enjoy your favourite “down time” activity rather than start prepping again before you go to sleep!
Also – try to make lunches with leftovers – this is a big time saver!
Here are some portable lunch and quick dinner options for your kids.
Fresh Chicken Wraps – this recipe can be easily made right after dinner. Cook up a couple more chicken breasts and use them in these wraps. The kids can even help assemble them!
Chicken and Broccoli Calzones – kids love pizza! So, why not have a weekend pizza night and then make some extra chicken calzones. You can freeze them and cook them up for lunch or a quick dinner during the week.
Grilled Cheese, Bacon & Chicken Quesadilla – If you have some leftover chicken, this recipe will take less than 10 minutes to cook. If you want to make it for a lunch, try putting the ingredients in a pita so it’s easier for your child to eat at school.
Nutritious & Delicious
It’s no secret that if food doesn’t taste good, your child will most likely not eat it. So, it’s important to make sure that back to school meals strike a balance between being both nutritious and delicious.
Asking your child what their favourite ingredients and foods are will help keep the “tasty” factor in check. If your child loves cheese, cook something like the chicken quesadillas above that is both high in protein (from the lean chicken) and calcium. You could even add some shredded carrots or spinach to the quesadillas to boost up the Vitamin A. If your child loves tacos, make ground chicken tacos and offer toppings like lettuce, tomatoes and cheese. The key thing is to transform what your child enjoys into something healthy and nutritious for their meals.
Every school has different policies regarding what is appropriate to bring for lunch or snack. It’s important to be aware of the policies that exist in your child’s school district.
Because of concerns with allergies, many schools request that students don’t bring peanut or nut butters in their lunches/snacks. If your child likes these foods, offer it to them before or after school; that way they aren’t putting any other students at risk who may have allergies, but they can still enjoy them.
Check out this article to learn more about becoming allergy aware.
Some schools ask that students refrain from bringing plastic wrapping or bags to reduce waste. The best solution to this is having portable size containers and lunch boxes that your child can use to bring their lunch and snacks. This will actually end up being a cost savings and more beneficial to the environment!
Food Safety Tips
As you start your back to school meal prep journey, refresh your food safety knowledge. Read this article for food safety tips and have a fun, healthy and safe back to school season!
Food Allergy Canada. (2016). National School Policies. Retrieved August 26, 2016, from http://foodallergycanada.ca/resources/national-school-policies/