Tips for a Health Happy Lunch Box

It’s almost that time of year again, back to school! Kids go back to learning and playing, and it’s important to provide them with lunches that are healthy and delicious.  Getting your kids involved in the packing process can encourage them to make healthy choices, identify nutritious foods, and they’ll be more likely to eat a lunch that they helped pack. Parents can use these ideas for their lunches as well!

Switch up the Sandwich

Sandwiches are great staples but can get a bit boring. Instead, try adding your favourite filling in a whole wheat pita or wrap. Try wrap fillings like: salmon or tuna salad, chicken, lettuce and cheese, hummus and veggies.

Add the fruit

Cutting up larger pieces of fruit like apples, oranges and pears make eating fruit easier. Pair fruit slices with peanut butter to make them extra tasty.

Mini meatloaves

Kids love bite-sized foods and these mini meatloaves are full of protein.  They are sure to be a family favourite!

Ingredients

  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup quick cooking oats
  • 1 pound ground beef or ground turkey

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. In a large bowl, combine the egg, milk, cheese, oats and salt.
  3. Add the ground beef or turkey, mix well.
  4. Form the mixture into eight miniature meatloaves and place these in a lightly greased muffin tin.
  5. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 35 minutes.

Jazz up your salad

Salad can sometimes be boring or high in fat due to too much salad dressing. Instead, try an oil-based dressing and use ingredients that are high in fibre and protein. Choose a lettuce, favourite protein and then add nuts, seeds or fruit.

Chicken apple salad
  • 1 cup mixed greens
  • 1 cup cut up chicken
  • 1/2 chopped apple
  • ½ cup walnuts
  • Drizzle 1 tbsp of Italian dressing

Pin wheels

Take a whole wheat tortilla and layer on chicken or turkey, lettuce and cheddar cheese. Then, roll and slice into small wheels. This lunch is tasty, healthy and fun to eat!

Stock the soup

Canned soup is very high in salt and not very filling, so try making your own! This hamburger soup is very hearty and low in salt. Pack soup in a thermos mug or a sealable Tupperware container. Heat up in the microwave and serve.  

Hamburger soup

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 1 cup frozen carrots, chopped
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1/2 cup rice uncooked            
  • 1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups water
  • 3 (10 ounce) cans beef broth
  • 1 tablespoon parsley
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

Directions

  1. Heat a large soup pot over medium-high heat, and crumble in the ground beef
  2. Cook and stir until the beef is evenly browned and no longer pink
  3. Drain, and discard any excess grease
  4. Stir in the onion, carrots, peas, and rice
  5. Pour in diced tomatoes, water, and broth
  6. Season with parsley, garlic, and thyme
  7. Bring to a boil
  8. Reduce heat, and cover; simmer for 2 hours, stirring frequently

Pasta Salad

This is a fresh and easy take on a classic that has less fat and is packed with veggies. This dish is customizable to your child’s preferences; add any vegetable and protein and mix!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup whole wheat pasta like elbow macaroni or rotini
  • 2 cups broccoli chopped (if frozen, thaw first)
  • 2 cans tuna (water-packed, drained)
  • 1 cup tomatoes (cherry or grape, halved)
  • ½ cup chopped red peppers

Dressing:

  • 1/2 cup/115 ml. mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup/60 ml. olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar

Mix all ingredients together, chill and serve!

Super sides

Instead of chips or fries as a side with your kid’s main meal, pack celery sticks and dip or cheese and crackers. These choices will keep your kids fuller for longer.

Skip the sweets

Instead of candy and chocolate, add fruit and yogurt for a better choice that’s still sweet.

Leftovers

Putting a portion of dinner in a container for lunch is a great time saver!

Talking with your kids about what foods are healthier choices and discussing what foods they like can lead to your kids making better, healthier food choices. Happy Lunching!

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