Back to lunchbox business

Follow these steps and you will be the CEO of healthy school lunches!

By Edie Shaw-Ewald

The goal:
To provide healthy and tasty lunches with minimal stress.

A healthy lunch has at least one vegetable, one fruit, one whole grain and a protein. For example: A whole grain pasta salad made up of chopped veggies, chickpeas and cheese and an apple with water or milk as a beverage.

Prepare for a family lunch box meeting: Create a lunch box work sheet: Divide a sheet of paper or poster board into category headings of veggies, fruit, whole grains, protein, beverage and recess snack. If food preferences differ greatly between family members, you may want to make a sheet for each person.

Call the meeting to order: Brainstorm with the whole family on healthy and favourite (or at least acceptable) choices in each of the categories of your lunch box worksheet. Put this on the fridge or family bulletin board.

Before the start of the week, make sure you have groceries on hand to make the lunches. Make sure to divvy up the lunch making duties and give each child age-appropriate tasks. Hold another brainstorming session at the end of Christmas break and March break to revise for variety and seasonal changes. 

Create a lunch making control centre: Designate a place to put the lunch boxes, containers, water bottles, utensils. Organize this space periodically and the whole lunch-making process will be easier. Keeping this spot organized is a perfect job for a young child.

A Little Inspiration
Layered salads: Put a salad dressing/vinaigrette on the bottom of a container. Then layer with the harder cut-up veggies such as carrot, a cooked grain such as whole wheat couscous or quinoa, and then leafy greens, peppers, cucumber and other toppings such as raisins, seeds, etc. The options are endless here. For more ideas, Google ‘Mason Jar Salads’. I don’t recommend sending glass jars with little ones, though.

Lunch on a stick: Use wooden coffee stir sticks or the small bamboo skewers (not sharp wooden skewers). Get the kids to help thread cherry tomatoes, cucumber, cheese, even folded lettuce onto the stick. For dessert, make a fruit skewer with strawberries and chunks of melon.

Spring rolls: As a Superstore dietitian, I visited several children summer camps this summer. One of the activities was the making of spring rolls and I can tell you they were a big hit! This is a fun food activity for the whole family and can be made the night before.

Think of beans: Chickpeas, black beans, lentils, and other legumes make healthy and economical fillings for wraps and salads. They offer an alternative to processed meats.

For convenience, buy them in cans or in the frozen food section.

Spring Roll Recipe

• Spring roll rice paper wrappers (in international section of supermarket)
• Rice noodles (vermicelli), cooked according to package instructions
• 2-3 veggies, such as avocado, sliced; carrot, grated; cucumber, cut into sticks;
purple cabbage, finely chopped; sweet peppers, cut into sticks
• Strips of cooked chicken, tofu, or another source of protein

1. Pour warm water into a large bowl. Submerge one sheet of rice paper for 15 to 20 seconds. When it’s soft like plastic wrap, remove from the water, let excess water drip off, and place it flat onto a large plate.

2. Place a small amount of the vermicelli, the veggies, and the protein choice on the bottom third of the rice paper.

3. Gently pull up the bottom of the rice paper and roll it over the filling. Fold in the sides and continue to roll it up.

4. If not eating right away, wrap individually in plastic wrap and layer between sheets of parchment paper. Store in a covered container in the fridge for up to three days.

Dipping Sauce

This makes enough sauce for about 10 spring rolls

• 1/4 cup sunflower seed butter or WOW butter
• 1 tbsp. maple syrup
• 2 tsp. soy sauce
• 1 clove garlic, minced
• 1 tsp. Sriracha or other hot sauce (optional)
• 1-2 tbsp. fresh lime juice or warm water

1. Whisk all ingredients together.

2. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to three days.