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Back to School Lunches – Quick Tips to Help You Simplify the Process

Three kids walking with bagged lunches.

Back to school means parents are once again faced with the often-dreaded task of packing school lunches! I have yet to meet a parent who loves making lunches.

It’s challenging to create meals that are both nutritious and appealing to our kids tastes. However, with a little planning and creativity, you will be able to navigate the school lunch routine with ease.

Following are some quick tips to help you simplify the process

  • Repetition is okay if your child is happy eating the same lunch every day. You could consider changing up the fruit or veggie. Focus on offering variety when they are at home.
  • Get kids involved. Give them age-appropriate task. They will be more likely eat what is packed and it will ease your burden. Eventually, they’ll be doing it all on their own.
  • Send them foods you know they will eat. Kids need energy to get them through their busy school day. This is not the time to challenge their taste buds with a kale and quinoa salad. Include some nutrient dense foods you know they love and send a treat for fun.
  • Plan and prep ahead. Consider making a batch of muffins or energy bites on the weekend or pre-chopping veggies for lunches. You can also start a habit of making lunches the night before school to ease the morning rush.

Here are my Top 5 Quick and Easy Lunch Ideas.

Consider these ideas for your own lunch to save time and keep yourself feeling your best.

1. Breakfast for lunch

  • Dry cereal in a plastic container with a lid and some milk in a thermos.
  • French toast, pancakes or waffles with a side of berries and syrup.
  • Oatmeal with all the fixings (ie. fruit, nuts/seeds, milk, yogurt, etc).
  • Layer Greek yogurt and fruit in a container and serve granola on the side.

2. Quesadilla:

  • Fill a soft tortilla with shredded cheese, veggies, cooked meat, beans, etc. Fold over and microwave or bake until cheese is melted. Serve with salsa, sour cream or plain yogurt and guacamole if available.

3. Homemade ‘Lunchables’

  • Pack a selection of meat, cheese, crackers, pretzels, mini-muffins, bite-sized fruit and veggies, and a small treat.

4. Wraps

  • Hummus and veggies.
  • Cream cheese, shredded cheese, veggies and everything bagel seasoning.
  • Tuna or egg salad.
  • Leftover wrap – cooked meat and veggies, or taco fillings.
  • Deli meat, cheese and lettuce.

5. Eggs for lunch

  • Boil eggs at the beginning of the week to include in lunches all week long.
  • Microwaved scrambled eggs – add diced veggies and serve on an English muffin with cheese.

A final tip for worried parents: it’s ok if your child does not eat all their lunch. Do some investigating to determine why. Then worry-not! They’ll usually make up for it during their meals and snacks at home.

Packing nutritious and appealing school lunches doesn’t have to feel like a chore. Follow these tips, involve your children, and embrace simplicity for a streamlined lunch-packing routine with little stress. Hang in there, you got this!

I’m Janine LaForte. A proud Winnipeger, a Registered Dietitian of 23 years and a busy mom of 3 teens. Through my business, Real Life Nutrition, I specialize in helping families overcome mealtime challenges and get nutritious meals on the table without the stress or spending hours in the kitchen.

Here’s where to get more info or support:

Social: @reallifenutrition.rd

*Remember: services from registered dietitians are often covered by private insurance – or benefits programs.

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