Premium Fuel for the School Lunch Bag

Premium Fuel for the School Lunch Bag


Wow, how quickly the summer went and now the kids are back in school. It’s a time to re-organize the household schedule to make sure the homework is done, registration for activities is complete and there’s always food on hand to make healthy lunches.

Healthy lunches are the fuel for your child’s tank.   It helps them stay alert and productive and improves behaviour.   So when they’re sitting in class, their stomach starts to rumble and the bell finally rings, you can feel good that when they open their lunch bag, you’ve provided them with the best possible fuel.  The trick now is for them to eat it.

Talking about healthy eating at home should start when they’re young but it’s never too late to begin to encourage and show your child how to make healthier choices.  Healthy eating is about keeping it simple, affordable and convenient.  Whoever does the grocery shopping in your household, it’s their responsibility to bring home the foods that will provide the best fuel.

Healthy lunch foods should consist of:  a source of protein to keep your child alert such as hard boiled eggs, chicken, lean ham; complex carbohydrates for slow-release energy like whole-wheat bread, whole wheat pasta, brown rice; calcium for growth, healthy bones and teeth such as skim milk, 1% chocolate milk, yogurt and fruit and vegetables for fiber and vitamins and minerals.

If you ask your child what they would like in their lunch bag, you’d probably get the same response as we did when we asked our daughter (who has been learning about healthier choices since she was young).  She quickly said, with a big mischievous smile, “treats”.    Although we think it’s okay to provide a small treat in a lunch bag, we suggest that you limit it to once a week.  Treats are to be something special.  Chips, cookies, candy, and salty snacks are not foods that should be stables in anyone’s diet, every day.  These treats also tend to be the first foods your child will eat. Therefore, causing them to avoid the healthier choices.  Snacks for nutrition break, usually one in the morning and one in the afternoon, are important as children cannot eat as much food as an adult can at any one time.  Snacks like hot-air popcorn, rice cakes, bagel chips, melba toast with low fat cream cheese, fruit, veggies, low fat muffins, whole-wheat crackers with cheese, or yogurt served in a cup, tube or as a smoothie drink are great choices.

Do try to find out what your child would like in their lunch bag and ask if there are any foods that other children bring to school that they want to try.    Most children will just nibble on food or won’t finish it if it takes a lot of effort to eat so peel oranges, slice sandwiches in quarters and pack small bite size pieces of pineapple, grapes or melon.  A serving isn’t a lot.   In fact, six baby carrots or ½ cup is considered one serving.   You can pack containers of applesauce or frozen/canned fruit and even investing in a special banana container is well worth it.  Bananas are an almost perfect food and who wants to eat one that’s bruised.  Colourful fruits and vegetables go a long way when served with low fat veggie or yogurt dips.   When it comes to fruit juices only include those that contain 100% fruit juice (and we would rather see skim milk in the lunch bag).  Sport drinks should be avoided.  They have lots of calories and really only necessary for people who are continuously active for over one hour.

Everyone likes variety so mix up the breads, buns and wraps when making sandwiches and jazz up sandwich fillings with new combinations like canned light tuna with sliced apples and raisins, egg salad with grated carrots, diced green pepper and chopped celery or Hummus with roasted red pepper pieces.  Cold leftover pasta salad, grilled chicken and breakfast cereal with milk are easy alternatives to sandwiches.  When the colder weather comes, pack a wide-mouthed mini-thermos with low sodium soup, pasta, baked beans, stew or leftover chili.  Just pre-heat the thermos with very hot or boiling water before filling it.  As well cold foods should be packed in an insulated lunch bag with an ice freezer block.

Also have your child help pack their lunch so they can learn first hand and ask questions along the way.  Eventually, your child should be doing this on their own.

The school lunch is the fuel for your child’s tank.  Make it premium fuel and get an “A” on this year’s lunch report card.

Keep Fit & Have Fun

Hal & Joanne