It is back to school time and you’ve made a resolution to pack healthy, tasty, attractive and economical lunches that your kids will love!

That is a great idea, because the research shows children who eat processed, fast food have poorer performance in math and reading tests. So, when your kids are going back to school, giving them a nutritious and delicious lunch is an important part of helping them succeed. However, pleasing those pint-sized palates can be a big challenge.

Check out my top tips to be a school lunch hero:

  1. Get a thermos: Nothing will expand your lunch options more than a thermos. And, nothing says love like a hot, home-cooked meal on a cold day. Kid-approved favourites include: pasta and sauce, mac and cheese, stew or soup. Or, maybe your budding gourmet would love some curry and rice? There are so many possibilities. Add a spork in to your child’s lunchbox so they can manage liquids or solids with one handy, reusable utensil.
  2. Life is sweet: Along with their main dish or sandwich, send your children off with two snacks: one that is a bit more of a treat and another that is healthier. Life is about balance
  3. Healthy Snack Options: These are a yummy take on back to school supplies! Kids often love raw crunchy veggies or sweet, juicy fruits. Baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, celery, apples or cucumber all travel well. Don’t forget that dipping is fun, and those veggies might go down better after they have been dunked in hummus. Dried fruits like dried apricots or cherries or raisins are also a nutritious option.  Frozen mango chunks will thaw by lunchtime, and they are an easy snack to pack all year long.
  4. Treat snacks: muffins, cookies, brownies and cake. Treats are always healthier and yummier when baked at home from scratch. Get your kids to help bake a tray of brownies on Sunday afternoon, and then use those brownies in their lunches during the week. Don’t worry, if you get tired of all that baking by November you can use uneaten Halloween candy as a treat snack!
  5. Water, water, water: One of the best ways to cut back on added sugar and cost in your kids’ lunches is to buy reusable water bottles. Sending juice to school is just not cool. Water provides all the hydration they need. More and more schools are installing water fountains to allow for refilling these bottles.  That is good for your children’s teeth, your wallet and the environment.
  6. Get your pulses racing: The United Nations declared 2016 as the International Year of Pulses, so, there is no better time to help your family learn to love beans and lentils. Pulses are full of fibre which is great for preventing disease, and they also have slow-release carbohydrates to give your children the energy they need to shine in their afternoon classes. Try this Easy Lentil Stew for a delicious recipe that kids love. Serve it for dinner, and then send the leftovers with your kids to school in their thermoses. Easy, healthy and great value -win, win, win! Check out Pulse Canada’s guide: Cooking with Pulses for other great tips and recipes.
  7. Pleasing Palates: Here’s a great back to school tip for if you have a child who is particularly picky: make them your lunch packing lieutenant! Letting your children have some control over what goes in their lunch will help them feel comfortable with eating it. Don’t give them too much choice. If you say, “Would you like an apple or some grapes in your lunch?” instead of, “Do you want any fruit in your lunch?” that will provide them with two equally healthy and easy choices to choose from and  everybody wins.

Easy back to school lunch ideas that are quick and healthy to help make you and your little one, superheroes in more ways than one!