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Five tips for quick and healthy school lunches

Whole grain pita crisps

Cara Rosenbloom, Registered Dietitian & mom

You’re out of bread, can’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 child’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 Canada’s Food Guide’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 – 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 “go-to” lunch: When supplies are low, don’t stress. Have a staple lunch in mind – one that’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