By Anam Lone @theinspiredaccountant
It’s back-to-school season and like many parents, you might be thinking about school lunches. Yes, that daily task which can sometimes seem so daunting. I remember the time when I first started packing lunches for my daughter’s junior kindergarten year. I found myself packing the same foods over and over again because let’s be honest – it’s so hard to get creative early in the morning. However, over time I have learned to plan ahead of time so that my grocery shopping, meal planning, and school lunches all go hand in hand. Not only does this lead to kids having a variety of nutritious, healthy meals, it also saves us parents a ton of unnecessary stress. Time is required to do some up-front planning, but it’s totally worth it!
We all know that kids can be super picky, especially when it comes to whole foods. However, I think it’s important to at least offer them all varieties of foods to start with. Over time, you can make adjustments depending on what they like, while continuing to introduce some new items. Here are a few items that serve as my guideline when planning school lunches. I like to incorporate the following in a school lunch/snack pack:
1. Main Dish with Protein
4. Salty and/or Sweet Snacks
With these categories in mind, it becomes easier to “compartmentalize” school lunch and snacks. Remember that it’s important to incorporate some form of protein, preferably within the main course, as it is essential for a healthy diet, and helps curb hunger for longer. I never shy away from adding some favourites such as cookies or mini muffins. Kids are so active at school as they walk around and partake in various activities all day. It’s okay for them to have something “fun”, as long as a majority of their lunch is healthy.
Below is a chart that gives you some meal ideas that you can pack for five days – one whole week of school!
Main Dish (Carb + Protein): Pasta with Meat Sauce / Spaghetti with Meatballs
Sweet Snack Ideas: Cookies
Salty Snack Ideas: Zabiha Halal Cheese & Spinach Puff Pastry
Main Dish (Carb + Protein): Sandwich – Zabiha Halal Cooked Chicken Breast Deli
Vegetable: Baby Carrots
Sweet Snack Ideas: Granola Bar
Salty Snack Ideas: Pita and Hummus
Main Dish (Carb + Protein): Egg Salad Wrap
Vegetable: Red Bell Pepper
Sweet Snack Ideas: Yoghurt
Salty Snack Ideas: Zabiha Halal Chicken Nuggets
Main Dish (Carb + Protein): Zabiha Halal Chicken Drumsticks with Rice
Vegetable: Sweet Peas
Sweet Snack Ideas: Fruit Muffin
Salty Snack Ideas: Popcorn
Main Dish (Carb + Protein): Zabiha Halal Homestyle Pizza
Sweet Snack Ideas: Sweet Potato Fries
Salty Snack Ideas: Cheese & Crackers
It’s definitely fine to repeat foods as well, especially if it’s something that you know your child loves to eat.
What are some of your favourite lunch items? What challenges do you face when packing school lunches? We would love to hear from you in the comments below!
We hope you find these ideas useful, at least to get you started for the first week of school.
Until next time, ciao!