Back to School Lunch Survival Guide


By Zannat Reza @food4happiness

Nutrition Columnist

Nutrition Columnist

Kids who eat a healthy lunch have the brain power to learn better. But does packing school lunches give you a headache?  There’s nothing worse than having food come home uneaten.


Beat the stress with a little planning and prep.


·       Map out school lunch ideas for the week ahead.  Ask for your kids input – they’ll be more likely to eat it if they’ve had a say.

·       Dinner leftovers make a fast and easy lunch. Make extra food to save time.

·       Stock up on healthy grab and go foods for a picnic style lunch e.g. fruit, vegetables, whole grain mini pita, yogurt cups, and eggs.

·       Skip the “snack” packs marketed at grocery stores. These are more “treats” than healthy snacks. While it’s fine to send the occasional treat, kids don’t need one every day.

·       Prep as much of the lunch as you can the night before.  Get your kids to help make and/or pack their lunch. They are more likely to eat it.

·       If food comes home, find out why — too little time, container was hard to open, sandwich was too soggy — and come up with a solution together.

10 quick and easy lunch ideas


Mix and match your favourite ideas. Try and cover off a fruit/vegetable; whole grains and some protein for each lunch.


1.     Vegetable soup (carrot, butternut squash, cauliflower or broccoli), whole grain bun, cheese cubes or milk

2.     Dal with mixed vegetables, mini pita, 100% juice

3.     Curry chicken and vegetables mixed in with brown rice, mango slices, yogurt

4.     Chickpea or lentil quinoa salad, cucumber coins, grape tomatoes, water

5.     Whole grain pita pocket stuffed with hummus and shredded carrot, chocolate milk

6.     Cold tomato and cheese pizza, apple slices, 100% juice

7.     Hardboiled egg*, whole grain crackers, pepper slices, mandarin orange cup

8.     Whole grain tortilla wrap with egg, tuna or salmon salad, pineapple cubes, water

9.     Spaghetti and meatballs, grapes, milk

10.  Whole grain cereal, milk and berries

*hardboiled eggs kept in their shells will stay fresh for a week

A note on drinks: milk, water, 100% vegetable or fruit juice are the best choices. Fruit punch or cocktail is like drinking pop without the fizz.


Keeping lunch safe to eat

Lesson on School Lunch

  • Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold by using insulated food containers.
  •       For hot foods, fill the insulated container with boiling water and let it sit for a few minutes. In a separate bowl, heat the food until piping hot. Empty the water and fill the container with hot food.
  • For cold foods, use mini ice packs. For a smart shortcut, freeze a 100% juice box or milk carton and use it chill your lunch.
  • Wash fruits and vegetables before packing.
  • Keep lunches in the fridge in the morning and pack right before leaving for school.
  • Throw out any perishable food that comes home because they are not safe to eat.
  • Wipe lunch bags and wash cutlery every day.

What are your tips and tricks for packing a healthy school lunch?


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