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Brown bag special

Pack a lunch that provides a nutritious punch!

Pack a lunch that provides a nutritious punch!
Read more

Five great lunch ideas

Dipping ideas for raw vegetables

What a healthy lunch can do for your child

Recipe: Chicken chunks

Recipe: Pasta salad

Recipe: English muffin pizzas

Recipe: Chocolate chip muffins

Stuff that sandwich!

BY MARNI MCFADDEN
Winnipeg Health Region
Wave, September / October 2010

The idea of having to pack school lunches shouldn't cause a headache.

A little creativity, teamwork, and planning will result in tasty lunches that your kids will enjoy, are fun to eat and will keep them satisfied until after school. And you can relax, knowing you are providing nutritious meals that will help your active, growing kids to perform their best at school.

Here are some tips for packing a great lunch:

Remember the Food Groups

Different food groups provide different nutrients. For a powerful nutritious punch to lunch, choose foods from at least three of the four food groups: Vegetables & Fruit, Grain Products, Milk & Alternatives, and Meat & Alternatives. Studies show that children often do not get enough vegetables, fruit, milk products or whole grain foods in their diets - these are always great lunchtime choices. Include both a vegetable and a fruit. See if your school offers a milk program - whether it's skim, 1%, 2% or chocolate, milk is a great way to ensure a source of calcium and vitamin D, which are essential for healthy, strong bones and teeth.

Sandwiches Again?

Sandwiches don't have to be boring. A little imagination and variety can really jazz up a sandwich. Try different types of whole grain bread or use whole-grain buns, English muffins, pita bread or wrap it up with a tortilla. The "Stuff That Sandwich!" table accompanying this article lists some different types of sandwiches to try. As convenient as sandwiches may be, they are not the only way to have a delicious, nutritious lunch. Whether or not sandwiches are a hit in your house, there are many other healthy options to consider. Check out the "Five Great Lunch Ideas" table for tasty, nutrient-packed lunch ideas and follow a few simple rules when planning:

Get the Kids Involved

Kids are more likely to eat their lunches if they are included in the preparation. Avoid the morning rush by taking time with them after supper to prepare tomorrow's healthy lunch. Leftovers from the evening meal can easily be portioned into containers and popped into the lunch bag. Cook extra pasta for a lunchtime salad. Encourage older kids to make their own lunches. Ensure that they have access to foods from all of the food groups.

Plan Ahead

Take some time during the week to prepare lunch items that can be frozen and easily accessed for hassle-free lunch preparation. A variety of hot foods such as soups and pasta dishes can be included and kept warm until lunchtime with the use of a thermos, eliminating the need for a microwave at school to reheat. Raw vegetables and fruits can be cut up and put into containers at the beginning of the week for easy assembly each evening. Combine new foods with old favourites to help develop your kids' tastes and increase acceptability of new foods. Be a role model and set a great example by trying new foods yourself. Use an ice pack to ensure cold foods stay cold until lunchtime.

Make It Fun!

Freezing foods can make them more enticing - freeze grapes, quartered oranges, or any fresh fruit when it's in season. Include frozen fruit to be eaten alone, or added to yogurt. A yogurt that's been frozen can be a fun surprise to find in a lunch bag as well. Presenting food in fun packages, such as coloured lunch bags, using plastic containers, special napkins, colourful straws or including stickers or notes can make lunchtime more fun.

Marni McFadden is a registered dietitian with the Winnipeg Health Region.

Wave

About Wave

Wave is published six times a year by the Winnipeg Health Region in cooperation with the Winnipeg Free Press. It is available at newsstands, hospitals and clinics throughout Winnipeg, as well as McNally Robinson Books.

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