School-age

Guidelines: How to make sure you're packing nutritious lunches

Use our simple guidelines to build a complete and healthy school lunch.

By Lianne Phillipson-Webb

Guidelines: How to make sure you're packing nutritious lunches

Choose one food from each category to pack a healthy lunch:

Carbohydrates Provide energy, fibre and staying power. Whole-grain products offer more fibre to keep kids feeling full longer.

Options:

• grains (bread, wrap, pasta, crackers, rice) • sweet or white potato (baked, sweet potato fries, in risotto or soup) • yogurt • beans and lentils

Proteins Supply the building blocks for the body’s growth, repair and day-to-day functioning. Combined with a carbohydrate, they keep your kid fuelled longer.

Options: • meat • cheese • plain Greek yogurt • beans, fish

Snacks Help little ones stay energized so they can pay attention and behave in class — and out.

Options:

• hummus, guacamole • rice cakes with tahini and fruit spread or jam • trail mix (raisins, dried cranberries, goji berries, cereal, sunflower seeds) • granola bar

“Good” fats

Essential for memory, concentration, stamina and overall brain and nerve function.

Options:

• oily fish (salmon, tuna, sardines, herring, mackerel), tinned or fresh • seeds (sesame, flower, flax, pumpkin) • avocado • omega-3 eggs

Fruits and vegetables

Provide fibre, antioxidants and powerful plant nutrients not found in proteins and carbohydrates.

Options:

• pineapple • mango (freeze before packing to avoid browning) • sugar snap peas • cucumber

Put it all together

Need some inspiration? Try these five interchangeable lunch and snack ideas:

Lunch #1:

• Whole-grain pita pocket stuffed with egg, tuna or salmon salad, plus sliced cucumber • Kiwi fruit, halved and ready to scoop out with a spoon, and low-sugar yogurt • Pepper slices and cottage cheese • Milk

Lunch #2:

• Whole wheat wrap filled with sliced meat (turkey, chicken or ham), grated carrot and avocado • Apple slices with cinnamon • Cracker or vegetable sticks and hummus • Water

Lunch #3:

• Baked potato with mixed-bean chili or baked beans, topped with grated cheese and served in Thermos • Celery sticks filled with tahini (sesame seed spread) • Baked tortilla or pita chips and guacamole • Diluted juice

Lunch #4:

• Chicken noodle soup with extra vegetables • Frozen or fresh mango • Apple slices and cheese • Coconut water

Lunch #5:

• Pasta served with tomato sauce (add extra vegetables: mushroom, peppers, broccoli) • Cottage cheese and pineapple • Granola bar and apple slices • Water

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