Cara Rosenbloom, Registered Dietitian & mom
Youâ€™re out of bread, canâ€™t find a water bottle and the school bus will arrive in four minutes. Is this a familiar scenario in your house? If making your childâ€™s lunch seems stressful, here are five tips to ensure their lunchbox is filled with healthy, quick options.
Think about balance: Use a lunch container with divided compartments, so you remember to add the four food groups:
Vegetables and Fruit: such as carrots, grapes and watermelon
Grain Products: such as whole grain bread, corn bread and bulgur
Milk and alternatives: such as cheese, milk and yogurt
Meat and alternatives: such as tofu, eggs and chicken
Stock convenient items: You can still include whole grains without preparing ingredients from scratch! Use whole grain breads, wraps and crackers to get Canadaâ€™s Food Guideâ€™s recommended Grain Products at lunchtime. Choose foods that list 100% whole grain as the first ingredient.
Use the freezer: Stock your freezer with items that can be defrosted for quick lunches:
- Quick-to-cook vegetables like peas as great additions to grain-based salads.
- Whole grain breads for quick sandwiches and wraps.
- Sliced peaches, pineapple or mango for fruit salad or kebabs.
- Convenience tip: you can prepare and freeze soy butter and jam sandwiches, which can be slipped into lunch bags as-is â€“ they will defrost by lunch!
Organize a snack drawer: For easy snacks, pre-fill containers with trail mix made with soy nuts, raisins and whole grain cereals. You can also have a snack drawer in the fridge, filled with ready-to-go Greek yogurt, cheese strings or hummus cups.
Have a â€śgo-toâ€ť lunch: When supplies are low, donâ€™t stress. Have a staple lunch in mind â€“ one thatâ€™s made from on-hand ingredients. The go-to lunch for my daughter is whole grain crackers, cheese cubes and soy butter, artfully arranged in paper muffin cups in a square container. With some fruit on the side, lunch is ready.
To learn more about the goodness of grains, visit www.healthygrainsinstitute.ca.