With children back at school, parents and caregivers are always looking for healthy lunch and snack ideas. Healthy foods provide children with all the nutrients and energy they need to grow, learn, and play. Here are a few tips you can use to provide healthy lunches and snacks for your children.
For healthy lunches:
- Use Health Canada’s Eat Well Plate as a guide to plan children’s lunches. Follow the proportions on the Eat Well Plate:
- Make half (½) your child’s plate vegetables and fruits, one-quarter (¼) protein foods and one-quarter (¼) whole grain products.
- Here are some lunch ideas:
- Baked pasta and cheese with apple slices
- Pumpkin or butternut squash soup with naan
- Tuna and veggie salad on pita bread
- Grilled cheese on whole grain bread with veggie sticks
- Chicken salad wrap
- Be creative: try using different combinations of foods such as using roti to make a cheese and veggie pizza and grated cheese on tuna pasta salad.
- Involve your children in the planning and preparation process. This can help increase their interest towards their food.
- Use leftovers for lunch.
For health snacks:
- Also use the Eat Well Plate as a guide to plan children’s daily snacks. Follow the proportions of the Eat Well Plate.
- Include a vegetable or fruit at each snack.
- Snacks should be easy to eat.
- Make water the drink of choice at meals and snacks for children. Give water instead of sugary drinks such as juice, soft drinks and chocolate milk.
- You can also give your children white milk or unsweetened fortified soy beverage.
- Be aware of food allergies even if your child does not have food allergies.
- School boards have policies in place to prevent allergic reactions at school.
- All schools are nut-free, which means lunches and snacks for children should not contain peanuts or any tree nuts such as cashews and walnuts.
For more information:
- Keeping Kids Healthy
- Toronto Public Health: Feeding your child
- Canada’s food guide
- Health Canada’s: Eat Well Plate
To speak with a Registered Dietitian, call Telehealth Ontario toll free at 1-866-797-0000 Mondays to Fridays from 9am to 5pm.