Healthy school lunches

How to pack a healthy school lunch

It can be hard getting kids ready to go back to school, especially after winter or summer holidays. Here are some tips & tricks to get your family excited for returning to a routine and ready to hit the ground running – complete with a healthy school lunch!

Start with breakfast

Breakfast is said to be the most important meal of the day – for good reason! A healthy, filling breakfast helps fuel not only your child’s body, but their brain as well. Since it can be stressful getting ready in the morning, follow these tips to ensure that your kids get something nourishing to start the day off on the right track:

  • Try a yogurt parfait. Make the night before and use low-fat Greek yogurt to incorporate a good source of protein.
  • Try a frozen breakfast. Add a Popsicle stick to a container of yogurt for a great way to change things up with an element of “fun”.
  • Make overnight oats. These are another great option to make things easier in the mornings. Make them with yogurt or soy milk for a non-dairy protein boost, and an easy grab-and-go for running out the door.
  • Add some greens. Blend spinach or kale into a fruit smoothie for breakfast (try this easy power smoothie)! Make smoothies even easier by packing individual freezer bags with ingredients – then, add them to your blender with your choice of milk for a two-minute drink on the run.

Pack smart drinks and snacks

When it comes to snacks, you want your child to want to reach for the right foods to fuel their day. Try providing your kids with a few different options to choose from, and allow them to pick 1-2 to include in their lunch box for snack time. Here are some great recipe options for your kids to pick from:

Another important thing to keep in mind is hydration. Studies have shown that a drop in hydration (or dehydration in the body) reduces things like performance and cognition – two essential elements of your child’s development. To encourage your kids to drink more water, try one of these tips:

  • Take them with you to a store to pick out their own, special water bottle (Superman or Wonder Woman themed, perhaps?). Being empowered to make their own choice will help to get them excited about drinking up.
  • If your kids aren’t a fan of plain old water, shake things up with a fruit infusion. Try strawberry mango or mixed berry to add flavour with no added sugar.

Packing a healthy lunch

Having your kids involved with meal prep for lunches is the final step in prepping them for the school day. It’s important to give kids the right amount of variety and micronutrients, but also to allow them to have some input. Allowing them to choose something that’s nutritious gives them a say and a sense of authority.

  • Give your kids two options for protein, complex carbohydrates, and veggies then allow them to mix and match. This makes learning healthy habits more fun!
  • Try a bento box – not only are they visually appealing, but it helps to teach them how to portion their meals.

Remember, while it’s not easy to get back in to a routine, at the end of the day establishing these healthy habits will be good for both you and your family in the long run. If you have any questions, make sure to reach out to your Copeman dietitian.

You can also watch Michelle’s live segment on CTV Mornings in Calgary below!