Back-to-school means back to the kitchen to face the challenge of offering little learners a variety of food to make sure they get the energy and nutrients they need to learn and play all day long.
All Hands on Deck: Kids who learn how to plan and prepare their own lunches and snacks are more likely to try new foods and less inclined to choose less nutritious, pre-packaged convenience foods.
Balancing Act: Include one or two choices from each food group every day.
Dinner Do-Over: Make an extra serving of dinner and pack it in for the next day’s lunch.
Keep it Local: Choose fresh, local, in-season produce. Check your labels. Support local producers. Ontario Foodland is a great resource for recipes, ideas and information.
Think outside the spoon: Use chopped veggies, chopsticks, lettuce leaves, or crackers. Look for a cracker with less sugar and high protein. Enerjive quinoa crackers have a great variety.
Pack a Little Love: Brighten your child’s day. Send a note, draw a doodle, write on a banana or include a joke to remind them that you are thinking of them.
Start out on the right foot this year with some fresh ideas
PACK IT ALL IN
Having the right tools makes packing the perfect lunch an easy task. Look for the right lunch bag for your child.
Take the time to think about the types of containers you use for lunches to make sure that the lunch bag is roomy enough.
• Aim for a litter-less lunch.
• A washable liner is a great option and BPA-free containers are best.
• Thermos has a wide variety of stainless steel vessels with vacuum seals that are great to keep foods hot or cold throughout the day.
• If you label your kid’s lunch bag and belongings, they are more likely to find their way home.
MAKE IT A FAMILY AFFAIR
Family meal time is the best way to reconnect at the end of a busy day. Preparing nutritious and delicious meals together teaches kids important life skills and helps them to build confidence in the kitchen.
It can be a big challenge to find the time to plan, prepare and share family meals throughout the week. Here’s some help.
The Registered Dietitians and Dairy Farmers of Canada have partnered to create FamilyKitchen.ca, an online resource that provides simple tips, ideas and recipes to help families plan and prepare meals.
Decide on one or two nights a week that your family will cook together and start with a simple recipe. All of the recipes include a handy guide that outlines the steps that you can do and those that your children can take on.
The Chicken Fajitas with Fresh Salsa, or Asian Noodle and Vegetable Salad are good ones to start.
FRESH IDEAS FOR LUNCH BOXES
Veggie and Cheese Kabobs: Skewer chopped veggies and cubed cheese to create a colourful pattern.
Cucumber Rounds: As a base, use thick slices of cucumber and top with tuna salad.
Quesadillas: Cover flour tortilla with shredded cheese. Top with veggies of choice. Melt on stove top or in microwave and fold. Shakes and Smoothies: A great way to include daily servings of fruit and milk.
Hot Soup: In a pot, add 1 1/2 cups (375ml) of broth, 1 cup of your favourite veggies (frozen can be used in a pinch), 1/4 cup (60ml) of lean meat, 1/4 cup (60ml) of your favourite pasta (alphabets are fun). Bring all ingredients to a boil for 8 minutes and soup’s on! Source: Natural Kitchen Wizard, Korey Kealey
Easy Pasta Salad: Cook short pasta, throw in some chopped veggies and drizzle dressing. Top with shredded cheese.
Make Yogurt Fun: Stir chopped seasonal fruit into plain yogurt. Add Ontario Liquid Honey to taste, and sprinkle with granola.
Julie Findlay is a mom and educator who truly enjoys sharing solutions and resources for busy parents and caregivers. From family recipes to creative ideas and on-the-go tips, she’s always topical, she’s always trendy, she’s Mom in the Know.