A Saskatoon-based dietitian is telling parents not to guilt themselves when it comes to their kids’ school lunches.
Brooke Bulloch, owner of Food to Fit Nutrition Inc., said parents shouldn’t feel bad if some days only leave time to put together a bologna sandwich and a granola bar for the little ones.
That said, she cautioned that not all foods are as healthy as the packaging might lead one to believe.
“It’s important that we do recognize that a lot of granola bars on the market are more like treats or desserts than they are whole grain option,” Bulloch said.
Bulloch said lunches should contain vegetables and fruit, grains, dairy and protein.
As long as lunches contain the four categories, Bulloch said parents should feel free to add in a treat or dessert. She added that it was fine if a child wanted to eat the treat first, as they’d eventually eat the rest of their lunch.
Bolloch recommended three steps to school lunch success.
Planning was the first step Bulloch advised. She recommended families have an ongoing grocery list that everyone can contribute too.
“Get the kids involved in making their own lunches because this actually makes them more likely to eat and enjoy the foods offered,” Bulloch said.
She added that children might surprise their parents with creative ideas.
“As long as you get the categories, it doesn’t always have to make sense,” Bulloch said.
Bulloch said balance was another key part of keeping kids fed through the school year.
She said one trick she uses is asking her clients’ kids to write down their favourite foods on a blank sheet of paper.
“I’ll say: ‘why don’t you make a list of all your favourite fruit?’ So, it could be orange wedges, it could be pineapple, grapes, pears, bananas even dried fruit, Bulloch said. “Then I’ll say choose your favourite vegetables and maybe they’ve only got three, and really, if they want to cycle through those same vegetables that’s okay.”
Bulloch’s third pillar for school lunches is routine.
She recommended getting into the habit of making lunches the night before.
“It avoids anything that might happen in the morning and mornings can be quite hectic for bigger families,” Bulloch said. “It minimizes the risk of running out of time to make a lunch.”
Bulloch said it could be as simple as making a chicken and cheese quesadilla.
“Then you can slice these up into triangles, throw some apple slices, some raw veggies and maybe a bit of dip and there you have your lunch,” she said.
Another option Bulloch gave is making a cold pasta salad with kids’ favourite vegetables, then adding in grapes and a cheese string.