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Family Matters

Healthy School Lunches.... All Year Long

August 28th, 2013

By: Susan Crump

As we get back to our “normal” routine after the lazy days of summer let’s start with a vow to make healthier school lunches for our kids. And not just healthy, let’s try to make them fun. The aim here is to make sure those lunch boxes come back empty!

Here are a few tips that I’ve found work well:

1) Think about portion size. Kids eat smaller amounts and often have a short lunch break so provide small portions of a number of items. For instance, send fruit already cut up and if you send a sandwich, cut into interesting smaller shapes. It will be more appealing to your child.

2) Remember your food guide and offer protein, vegetables, fruit, dairy and carbohydrates. Mix it up and provide lots of variety and some choices as well. Your child may not eat everything in their lunch box but if they have variety they are more likely to eat what they need.

3) Gone are the days with leaky soup all over the lunchbox. Try to stay away from the prepackaged items in the supermarket that are often full of preservatives and buy a good set of reusable containers. There are some great storage containers for lunches on the market that don’t leak and will do a good job of keeping food cold or hot as well as keeping each item separated. And pick out a lunchbox with your child that they will enjoy carrying to school every day.

4) Plan ahead. If you can plan a week’s worth of lunches in advance and put some healthy muffins, homemade granola bars and sandwich filling mix in the freezer, everyone’s mornings will go better and those lunches will be a hit.

5) My kids never really took to sandwiches. If your kids are the same, try some of the following for their main item: wraps, roll-ups, cut up pitas, rolled up meat secured with a toothpick, cheese chunks, sandwich kabobs (meat, cheese and veggies on a skewer), scones with cheese and veggies cooked right in, quiches cooked in muffin cups, hard boiled eggs, trail mix, soup and leftovers.

6) For veggie options try: frozen veggies straight from the bag (corn and peas), small sized cut up veggies, cherry tomatoes, mini cucumbers and veggie pizza.

7) Don’t forget the water. And make sure you provide an extra snack for the ride home on the bus or if they have recess.

8) Make it fun! Try to remember what it was like to be a kid and share YOUR mom’s crazy food inventions with your classmates.

9) Don’t forget the note! If your child is having a tough day at school, a cheery note from Mom or Dad may make all the difference. Try using cool sticky notes that add some fun, too.

While you’re at it, pack a nice healthy lunch for yourself and your spouse. We often forget about ourselves but we need good food to fuel our bodies too. Making lunches in the morning can be a great family time. Ask your kids to pack YOU a lunch one day and see how creative they can be.

Susan is co-owner of The Green, an online local food company that specializes in offering convenient, healthy local food to families in Red Deer and surrounding communities while supporting local farmers in Central Alberta (



























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