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If you are like many parents, the thought of packing healthy, homemade lunches day in and day out fills you with dread. With increasing awareness of the need for healthy, balanced meals, this task becomes even more important. Your child’s lunch should meet the recommendations of Canada’s Food Guide. Yet it also needs to be hot enough, cold enough or crisp enough to withstand a morning in the cloakroom. The lunch should be safely packaged and in environmentally friendly containers.
And with peanut allergies on the rise many schools are now nut free, eliminating a favourite and easy standby: peanut butter. Obviously, you want your child’s lunch to be homemade and healthy but your time is limited. More importantly, the lunch needs to be kid friendly and delicious because, after all, the healthiest lunch isn’t very healthy if it goes uneaten.
Take heart. You are already on the road to creating healthy, environmentally friendly lunches that your children will devour. Good Food to Go fuses the how-to’s of creating wholesome, homemade lunches with the latest information on food and nutrition. Our practical tips will help you make environmentally conscious food choices and eliminate lunch-box waste. This will help your family eat for a healthier future.
Instead of making an “old-school” sandwich, try our pita pockets, wraps, bagels and picnic style lunches. On winter days hot meals will warm hungry tummies, and homemade baked goods will have your kids grinning from ear to ear. Turn favourite dinners into delicious leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch. Alongside the easy-to-prepare recipes, we will provide you with the latest nutritional information to ensure your kids are getting what they need to thrive.
As working parents ourselves, we understand how busy life can be. We offer advice on how to involve your kids in preparing food and packing lunch boxes, ultimately freeing up your valuable time. Many of our recipes outline what can be done the night before, while others can be made in bulk and frozen, facilitating easy, last-minute lunches. Our meal planners will guide you through the week, providing your kids with a healthy variety of tasty and nutritious lunches.
Given that children consume approximately ¹/³ of their daily calories at school, what goes into your children’s lunch boxes is vital to their well-being. Eating a healthy lunch will improve their attention span, behaviour and learning ability. They will experience less fatigue and will have more energy to work and play.
Furthermore, healthy eating provides the building blocks for growth and development and reduces the possibility of developing nutrition-related diseases. Congratulations—you and your children are on the road to a healthy and happy school year!
Educate to Motivate
No matter how beautifully packaged and healthy your child’s lunch may be, if it comes home uneaten or, worse yet, winds up in the garbage, all your hard work is wasted. Research tells us that children who are involved in preparing their food are more likely to eat it. Therefore, it’s important to get your kids involved from the outset. After all, we know kids won’t eat what they don’t like, especially if you are not there.
Kids of all ages can take part in preparing and choosing the foods that go into their lunches. Young children can wash vegetables and fruit, help with baking and mix sandwich spreads. With guidance, older children can make sandwiches and cut fruits and vegetables, while high school students can independently pack their own lunches. However, it is important to understand that things don’t always go as smoothly as planned. If you are unhappy with the type of lunches that your teen packs, consider getting him to clean up the kitchen after dinner while you start the lunch. Preparing food for someone else is an act of generosity and nurturing. Spend a few extra minutes together packing leftovers and choosing which fruits and snacks to include.
Co-operative meal planning is a wonderful opportunity to teach your children about the importance of healthy eating. Turn to the copy of Canada’s Food Guide starting on page 11. Remind your kids of the 4 food groups and explain how each group provides our bodies with a different set of key nutrients. For example, Vegetables and Fruit help us stay healthy by providing us with important vitamins, minerals, fibre and antioxidants.
Meat and Alternatives provide us with energy, iron and protein. Energy gives us the power needed to accomplish our daily tasks: working, playing, growing and learning. Protein helps us stay alert and provides our bodies with the tools needed to build and repair body tissue. When Brenda’s son, Charlie, was young, he was reluctant to eat chicken sandwiches until she explained that chicken is packed full of protein, the nutrient needed to build strong muscles. To this day, Charlie’s favourite lunch is the Chicken Souvlaki Wrap (page 74).
Milk and Alternatives supply us with protein, vitamin D and calcium. Calcium and vitamin D are the nutrients needed to build healthy bones and strong teeth. Building a skeleton without vitamin D and calcium is like building a sandcastle without sand.
Finally, Grain Products provide us with carbohydrates and fibre. Carbohydrates give us energy and supply our brain with the fuel it needs to think and learn. Fibre keeps our bowels working regularly and its intake is associated with reduced risk of various diseases including heart disease, diabetes and obesity.