Nutritious School Lunches
Reviewed by: Mirieta Selimovska, RD, MHSc.
The back-to-school season is an eventful time as many families become busy with readjusting to a routine that has been very much altered over the past year! Preparing nutritionally balanced lunches and snacks for the family is one of the most important considerations of this routine. Consuming a healthy, well-balanced meal gives children the energy that they need for the day ahead and that is fundamental to optimal performance at school!
Canada’s Food Guide is a helpful resource when preparing balanced meals and snacks.Here are some basic planning principles, as well as delicious recipes for each:
Meals: Include 3-4 of the 4 food groups in proportions recommended by Canada’s Food Guide. Refer to Canada’s Food Guide plate model for a visual representation of proportions of fruit & vegetables, proteins, and grains that promote a nutritionally balanced way of eating.
Snacks: Include at least 2 of the 4 food groups to create a balanced snack that offers sustaining energy.
Pro Tip #1: Using a bento box with multiple compartments is a helpful and tidy way to organize your portable lunch + snack combinations!
Pro Tip #2: Choose whole grain options instead of refined grains where possible, as they are rich in dietary fibre, minerals, antioxidants, and vitamins.
Nutritious School Lunch and Snack Ideas:
Creating nutritious and balanced meals does not have to be stressful! Use these tips to simplify and reduce the stress of meal planning for the family. Don’t forget to encourage creativity and share the responsibilities with everyone at the table, big or small!
Health Canada. (2019). Canada’s food guide. https://food-guide.canada.ca/en/
Health Canada. (2007). Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide. https://www.canada.ca/content/dam/hc-sc/migration/hc-sc/fn-an/alt_formats/hpfb-dgpsa/pdf/print_eatwell_bienmang-eng.pdf
Simmons, D. (2016, April 5). Picture of a Balanced Diet. Healthy Families BC. https://www.healthyfamiliesbc.ca/home/blog/picture-balanced-diet
Harvard School of Public Health. (n.d.). Whole grains. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/whole-grains/