Friday, November 17, 2017

Lifestyle: Healthy lunches at home, work and school

How to Pack a Healthy Lunch for Kids (and the Kids at Heart)

Editor's Note:

I am so excited to have my friend, Jodi Dennie from SD Fitness as a guest writer on my blog. She has some amazing insight and tips on how to make school lunches healthy and fun for kids. But I'm thinking- these tips are definitely applicable for everyone, young or old. So read on if you're looking to get your health on -  whether you've got young mouths to feed or if you're just trying to feed yourself!

- Angelie

*By Jodi Dennie*

Once the kids are out the door, we pretty much have to rely on our awesome parenting and trust that they’ll make some good decisions when they are on their own. There is one thing however, that we do have more control over, and that’s what they fuel their day with at school.  

Ensuring our kiddos are equipped with healthy nutrients and vitamins will set them up with the energy they need to push them through their busy little days.  Breakfast is an important meal and can be tricky, but that’s a different topic for another day.  Today, lunch is the main event and I am sharing my top 5 tips for packing healthy, delicious lunches for our kids.



It is super important that kids get a balanced lunch including all the important nutrients. There are three categories that you want to make sure are in their lunch boxes daily- Protein, Carbs and Healthy Fats. 


Protein will keep your child feeling satisfied, full and alert in class and less likely to crave all those sugary treats.  

Great sources of protein for lunch can be found in:


Lunch ideas:
  • Baked egg cups in muffin tins with veggies + cheese
  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Spinach and egg scramble


Lunch ideas:
  • Mini whole grain pitas stuffed with tuna
  • Tuna wraps
  • Fish Sticks
  • Salmon patties 

Lunch ideas:
  • Turkey sandwiches or wraps 
  • Chicken nuggets
  • Turkey or beef chili
  • any leftovers from dinner
Beans and Legumes

Lunch ideas:
  • Edamame sprinkled with salt
  • Roasted Chickpeas
  • Falafel balls
  • Lentil hummus with veggies + pitas to dip
  • Black bean quesadilla                                                                                                            


Lunch ideas:                                      
  • Baked goods with hemp
  • oatmeal protein balls with oats, seeds and chia
  • trail mix with oats, pepita, sunflower and chia seeds

Lunch ideas:   
  • Greek yogurt parfait with berries and granola
  • Cheese and crackers
  • Cheese quesadilla with veggies/beans                                                                                          

Whole grain complex carbs will fuel your child with energy.  Stick to whole grains that give added fibre like:
  •  whole wheat bread
  •  pita
  • wraps
  • brown rice
  • gluten-free or whole wheat pasta 
  • oats
  • whole grain pancakes or waffles
  • whole grain or gluten-free baked goods

Vegetables and fruits as well as beans and legumes are carbs as well, so load your plates with them/ My kids love sweet potatoes fries and fruit salad.


We want to make sure our kids are consuming fats - the good, healthy kind....and yes, there is such a thing.

Contrary to our popular belief about fats, our bodies require good healthy fats to supply nutrients that are essential for growth and energy. 

Fats are also super important to the brain (which is 70 percent fat). So, we want to make sure our kids are getting fats like:
  • avocado
  • seeds
  • eggs
  • coconut oil
  • cheese
  • salmon
Tip: Try guacamole with veggies and pita to dip, or sunflower butter (which tastes just like peanut butter but is even better for you) with celery.


I always tell my daughters, ‘green means good and bright means right’, at least when it comes to your fruits and veggies. 

Green vegetables are loaded with nutrients and are super filling.  The brighter, more colourful the vegetable or fruit means the more antioxidants and nutrients they have. 

My go-to greens:
  • cucumber coins
  • edamame
  • green peas
  • celery with sun-butter and raisins
  • broccoli with dip
  • guacamole

My go-to brights:
  • apple slices
  • blueberries
  • grapes
  • watermelon
  • sweet potato wedges


Now that you've got the basics covered, it's time to make it fun! 

Kids love bite-sized food, fun shapes and anything that they can eat with their fingers.  It's not necessary to stay up all night carving flowers and dinosaurs out of cucumbers and avocados, unless that’s your thing. 

I am just talking about a few easy and simple tips to making lunch more appealing to kids. The goal is for them to come home with empty lunch boxes.

Here are some tips to make the meal more appealing to your little ones:

  • Cut fruits and veggies into small pieces rather than sending the whole apple or pear
  • Skewer foods like berries, grapes, cheese, cherry tomatoes, or pieces of bread onto sticks or toothpicks
  • Use colourful silicon baking cups to hold foods in place and keep them organized in their lunch boxes
  • Small picks and utensils in their favourite colours are a nice touch
  • Kids enjoy dipping their food in sauces and dips like guacamole, hummus, sun-butter, tzatziki, salsa and yogurt.  Cut up some veggies for dipping or try apples, crackers, bread sticks, or pita.


When it comes to treats, I go by the 80/20 rule.  If 80% of their meal is healthy, clean and nutritious then I am okay with 20% being a more processed treat. 

I do prepare some baked goods like muffins and protein balls that are great for lunch additions.  

But, I also purchase pre-packaged snacks that the kids love. It's all about balance.  

Generally, I will pack 2 of these treats into their lunch.   

Some of our favourite store-bought snacks are:
  • squeezy fruit sauce pouches
  • granola bars
  • nutri-grain bars
  • goldfish crackers
  • fruit-to-go bars
  • freeze dried fruit
  • coconut chips 
  • chocolate chips
  • rice krispy treats


I’ve tried a few different lunch-bags, but fell in love with our bento-style box by Yumbox.  There are so many options out there, but here are the 3 main checks that are a must:

1.    Leakproof- if you’re packing dips, yogurts, or sauces, you want a container that wont leak all over their bags and work.  Bonus if there are no detachable lids involved that tend to go missing.

2.    Green- choose a lunch system that helps to eliminate waste and the need to use baggies, and plastic wrap. We use reusable snack baggies for dry goods like pretzels and crackers, making for a waste free lunch.  If you are using a plastic container be sure it is BPA-free.

3.    Lightweight- opt for a lunch box that fits nicely into their backpack so there are less items for them to carry, especially for the little ones.

With these 5 tips in your lunch-making arsenal, I am sure you will be rocking healthy and delicious lunches that your kids will love!

 If you are looking for more tips on how to clean up your nutrition, my husband and I are all about living a healthy, balanced life - check out our Online Fitness Program which includes a full Nutrition guide with recipes. 

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