Children need a constant supply of energy, vitamins and minerals throughout their day to grow, play and learn. Providing healthy lunches and snacks that are appealing to younger tastes is a challenge for most parents. Parents want to send convenient, affordable, nutritious food that their kids will eat. By offering a variety of foods, a child’s growing body will get all the nutrients that they need while exciting their tastes buds.
Children should eat balanced meals and snacks to provide lasting energy throughout the day. Snacks help children stay energized and prevent overeating at meals. Without enough energy from food, they may feel too tired and find it difficult to concentrate in class. To keep a child nourished and ready to learn, a snack should include a mix and match of 2 out of the 4 food groups and a balanced lunch should include at least 3 out of the 4 food groups as recommended by Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide.
For example, a snack and lunch for a child between 9 to 13 years of age needs a total of 2-3 servings of vegetables and fruits, 2-3 servings of grain products, 1-2 servings of milk and alternatives and 1 serving from the meat and alternative group for their school day .
To prepare a healthy lunch and snack that your child will look forward to eating, think like a kid. Use your imagination and the food guide for creative ideas. Packing a lunch and a snack needs some pre-planning. Involve your child in the planning and preparation. Not only will you spend quality time together, your child will learn about balanced eating and will be more likely to eat food they made themselves.
Tasty Bagged Lunch Ideas
Add interest and variety by trying the following ideas:
- Salmon or tuna whole wheat wrap with cucumber slices, cherry tomatoes, white or flavoured milk and a plum
- Quartered chicken quesadilla made with sliced yellow and orange peppers, mushrooms & cheese with a side of grapes
- Mini-muffin eggs with spinach & onion on a whole wheat English muffin, green and red pepper slices & peach halves
- Grilled Turkey, apple & cheddar sandwich, carrots with dip & milk pudding
- Nut butter sandwich with banana and/or strawberry slices and steamed soybeans (edamame)
- Homemade sesame chicken fingers with plum sauce, sweet potato fries, vegetable sticks, milk pudding & melon slices
- Mini meatloaf muffins, thermos noodle vegetable soup, & pear quarters
- Bagel pizza with celery and carrots stick with a hummus dip, yogurt & mango slices
- Homemade mini burgers with couscous salad & orange wedges
- Turkey kebob skewers, whole wheat pita triangles with a tzaziki dip & raspberries
Nutritious Snack Ideas
Try these easy ready-to-eat snacks your kids will love. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Yogurt with high fiber cereal and blueberries
- Apple slices and low-fat cheese cubes
- Sliced bell pepper sticks and baby carrots with cottage cheese, hummus or guacamole dip
- Banana bread with cheese strings or milk and kiwi