School lunch tips

It is important to instill good eating habits early in the school year and a parent may have to get a bit creative to make them last. Keeping school lunches fun and interesting is the best way to make sure kids eat them. But you have to balance novelty with nutrition. Here are some tips for satisfying both.

For parents, there is nothing more frustrating then having a full lunch bag returned at the end of the day. So at the beginning of the year, get a sense of the portion sizes the kids can manage. Start small, judge the child’s appetite and take a look at how much is coming back. Then, if extra stuff is going to get packed, make sure it’s the fruit and veggies.

Registered dietitian, Shannon Crocker, recommends building a lunch around one nutrient rich base item that the kids enjoy eating. That can be a sandwich made with low sodium meat, or leftovers from the previous night’s dinner. Get kids involved in the lunch making process, especially if feeding picky eaters.

Protein and fibre will help kids stay full, which makes them more attentive in the classroom, but both are often overlooked at lunch time. Crocker suggests trying interactive items to make them more appealing. Healthy drinks are important as well, avoid sugary drinking boxes and instead, choose milk or water.

Because some schools now give kids two nutrition breaks instead of one lunch break, kids may fare better with a bunch of snacks instead of one larger item. Be cautious of store bought snacks, they often contain more sugar and salt than home-made alternatives.