It's only been a few weeks since school started again, but are you already running out of ideas for school lunches? Here are some great made-in-Canada tips and lunch ideas to make your lunch the best kibble in the room!
1. Know your child and what they enjoy eating. Lunch time is not the venue to test crazy creations or new foods (unless your child enjoys a culinary adventure). If this means that they wish to eat the same thing all week, so be it.
2. Prepackaged lunch foods look like fun for the kids, but are truly frightening especially with some varieties that can have as much as 500 calories with 27g of fat and then add the salt and sugar too! Re-create these fun lunches using whole grain crackers, flat breads, multi grain chips, real Canadian cheeses, homemade salsas and sliced turkey or lean ground beef.
3. Have fun with bento box style lunches. Bento is a single-portion takeout or home-packed meal common in Japanese cuisine usually consisting of rice, fish or meat and one or more pickled or steamed veggies arranged in a box. This concept has sparked a global interest with people creating bento style lunches from traditional to off-the-wall edible artwork and the ultimate in cute. Get creative and play with your kids' food!
4. But you do not need to have fancy bento boxes to pack your creations. Try the great Canadian-made plastic lucnh containers from Era Seal, which can be found at your local Dollarama. And of course, they are BPA free.
5. Make fruit and veggies a fun addition to lunch by cutting them up into bite sized portions. Include a yogurt dip for the fruit as well as a savoury dip for the veggies.
6. If your child has access to a microwave, have a favourite supper do double duty just by making a little bit extra for lunch. Things like homemade pizza, noodles, lasagna, roasts or poultry for sandwiches, soup, stew, and breaded chicken are great supper-time meals transformed into lunch.
7. Stock up on large and small cookie cutters and create some cute sandwiches (keep the crusts and make croutons for your salads).
8. Keep their lunch safe with these great tips from Healthy Canadians. Instead of using ice packs that may or may not make it back to your freezer at the end of the day, try freezing juice boxes instead. Works just as well! Check out these great insulated lunch bags made in Alberta by NanaBrowns.
Insulated lunch bag
Make lunch part of your meal planning when doing your grocery list. Here's one that I came up with that got rave reviews from the little people in my life.
Five Day School Lunch Plan
Day 1: Pasta salad (with Manitoba Harvest Organic Hemp Seed Oil, quartered cherry tomatoes, thin sliced celery, chopped parsley, salt and pepper), grape halves, cucumber sticks with dip and fresh apple juice.
Day 2: Nuts To You sunflower seed butter and honey sandwiches (use cookie cutters for fun sandwich shapes), a small apple, small cauliflower florets with dip and milk.
Day 3: Mini homemade meatballs (make these when you are cooking with ground beef or pork and freeze some for lunch) with seasoned sour cream dipping sauce, cheese cubes, avocado chunks, cherry tomatoes, whole grain tortilla chips and veggie juice.
Day 4: Chicken drumstick, celery sticks filled with cream cheese topped with raisins, fruit kebobs with strawberry yogurt dip, mini fun shaped crackers and milk.
Canadian maple syrup
Lunch for kids can be fun, exciting, unpredictable and healthy. All it takes is a little thinking outside the box and some preparation to create unique lunches that your children will never trade for the processed convenience variety.
What about you? Tell us what lunches you prepare for your kids that get you the biggest raves every time! We'd all like to know!