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Tips for Packing a Healthy Lunch

By on August 22, 2019 0 1055 Views

APPLE Schools does not have its own policy on nutrition. Instead, they encourage schools to follow district and provincial guidelines. APPLE Schools is excited to share tips from nutrition experts at Alberta Health Services and information outlined in Canada’s Food Guide and Alberta Nutrition Guidelines for Children and Youth about packing a great lunch for kids.

Tips for Packing a Healthy Lunch

Children spend nearly a third of their day at school, so their eating habits while learning has a big impact on their health. School lunches and snacks provide children with the energy and nutrients they need throughout the day and are a major source of the essential vitamins and minerals they need to grow, develop, and learn.

Pro Tips for Packing Lunch

  1. Involve Your Children 

Take time to plan school lunches with your children. Get their input; make a list of all the foods they like and stick it in the fridge.

Add to the list as they discover new foods and focus on options inspired by Canada’s Food Guide. If your child attends an APPLE school, they may have tried new food during a taste test and feel excited to eat that food more often.

Involving children in planning and packing their lunch can:

  • Improve their food knowledge
  • Inspire them to try new foods
  • Make them feel included
  • Decrease the amount of waste, uneaten food
  1. Lead By Example 

Prepare and enjoy a variety of healthy foods with your children. Children are more likely to make healthy eating choices if you are too.

  1. Use Your Leftovers 

Think about what you will be making for dinner during the week; use the leftovers to make quick and easy lunches the next day.

  1. Prepare to Grab and Go

Designate a shelf or basket in your pantry for healthy ready-to-go lunch snacks like dried fruit, apple sauce, whole-grain crackers, nut butter (if allowed). In your fridge, keep single-serve yogurts, hummus, and sliced cheese. Wash and peel enough vegetables for several days. Store in a closed container in the fridge.

  1. Include Variety 

Keep lunches interesting and switch them up with foods from the three food groups in the Canadian Food Guide: whole grains, protein foods, and veggies and fruit.

Foods for the Four Seasons 

Eating foods from all groups outlined in Canada’s Food Guide ensures that children get all nutrients necessary for a healthy body and mind. But if you’re looking for ways to keep fruit and vegetables new and interesting, consider adding a seasonal touch to lunches. 

Fall: Think about transitioning back indoors to roast seasonal ingredients such as pumpkin, Brussel sprouts, pears, cauliflower, garlic, and zucchini. Try zucchini, carrot, apple muffins or slow-cooker stew.

Winter: Warm soups and stews that include seasonal ingredients like turnips, carrots, leeks, and sweet potatoes. Try a curried squash and sweet potato soup.

Spring: Fresh greens and salads with seasonal ingredients such as asparagus, radishes, spinach, kale, green onion, and lettuce. Try a Mediterranean salad with tuna.

Summer: Warm, sweet, and colourful flavours from seasonal ingredients such as strawberries, raspberries, apples, melons, tomatoes and watermelon. Try a simple fruit salad or fruit kabob with yogurt dip.

For easier, healthy recipes, visit Alberta Health Services’ healthy eating resources webpage.

About the author

Communications Coordinator at Apple Schools | Website

APPLE Schools is the only school health promotion project in Alberta proven to change health outcomes in schools. The project works with vulnerable school communities to improve students’ healthy eating, physical activity, and mental health habits in a cost-effective manner. Each year, APPLE Schools improves the health of more than 20,000 students in 70 schools across northern Alberta, Northwest Territories and Manitoba.