Next week is the last week of summer for us. The high school athletes are back at it with pre-season training and I will be focused on the younger ones, shopping for school supplies, uniforms and other last minute requests. It’s been a wonderful summer for me, and I can’t thank my summer of pediatric dietitians enough for sharing their expertise with Just the Right Byte.
The Canadian dietitians from Tummy Thyme are back with strategies for packing a healthy lunch! Don’t forget I have a live giveaway going on for the Best Lunchbox Ever and you have another week to enter. Happy Friday!
As usual, the summer has flown by and many of us are gearing up for back to school. And back to school means a return to the daily grind of making school lunches. Here are some quick tricks to help you start the new school year off healthy!
Include most food groups. (Grains; Fruit; Vegetables; Meat and Alternatives; Dairy and Dairy Products). Some examples of a well balanced lunch are:
- Hard boiled eggs, toast cut into fingers and wrapped in foil in maintain crunchiness and red pepper slices.
- Tuna wrap with lettuce and a side of baby carrots with milk to drink
- Whole grain pancakes cut into bite sized pieces (eaten cold); fresh berries and vanilla yogurt
Cook in bulk. When you have some extra time on weekends or evenings, bake a big batch of whole grain muffins or oatmeal cookies and freeze in Ziploc bags. Or when you’re cooking your evening meal, make extra that can easily become leftover lunch. Cooking in bulk not only saves you time when packing lunches, it also adds some great variety to the usual repertoire of choices.
Plan and prepare in advance. As much as possible, cut up vegetables on the weekend, clean fruit when you purchase it, portion out yogurt or leftovers into individual containers or fill drink containers the night before. The more you are able to prepare in advance, the more likely you will pack healthy items and avoid the morning rush.
Ensure your packed lunch is safe. Use an insulated lunch bag along with ice packs to keep cold food cold until it is eaten. If you’re planning on packing something warm like chilli, soups, spaghetti or scrambled eggs, don’t forget to warm up both your food and the thermos in which you are putting the food. If any food that is perishable comes home at the end of the day, discard it to avoid food borne illness.
Involve your child. Get your child involved in preparing his/her lunch in a way that is age appropriate. Younger children can help portion things like yogurt or trail mix; older kids can make their own sandwiches or wraps. Discuss with your child and write down some healthy food choices that he/she will eat and when you’re wondering what to pack on a particular day refer back to it this list. Revise and update this list often with your child as the year progresses. Involving your child not only teaches them how to plan healthy meals for themselves, it will also eventually reduce one task for yourself.
Here’s to a healthy and fun school year! Happy packing!
Brandy McDevitt and Melanie Roet are Registered Dietitians and Co-Owners of TummyThyme – a nutrition consulting service specializing in prenatal and child nutrition. Combined, they have 20+ years of experience working as Registered Dietitians. Brandy is a mom to 3 children and Melanie is a mom to 2 children. They are both committed to helping parents increase their knowledge, skills and confidence to provide whole, healthy foods to their family in an enjoyable mealtime environment.