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Fall’s Back… and so are packed lunches!

Shauna Miller, Registered Dietitian, Public Health

It's that time of year again! Summer is almost over and children are heading back to school. It's time to get back into the routine of earlier bedtimes, homework and preparing lunches for your child. A healthy packed lunch can have a significant impact on your child's overall health.

Ideally, a healthy lunch should include all four food groups in Canada's Food Guide: Vegetables and Fruit, Grain Products, Milk and Alternatives, and Meat and Alternatives. The best options to pack in your child's lunch are foods with little processing such as fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, milk and fresh meat, fish or poultry. Try to limit packaged foods such as pre-prepared store bought foods, packaged sweets and candy.

Horizon Health Network encourages parents or guardians to involve children in making their lunches to get them excited and interested in meal preparation. Here are some great options for healthy lunches:

  • Homemade supper leftovers such as spaghetti or stew
  • Raw vegetables with hummus dip
  • Yogourt with granola and fruit
  • Whole grain crackers or pita with cheese cubes

Remember to keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot. An insulated lunchbox with an ice pack helps keep foods cold, and a thermos is helpful to keep foods hot. Preheat the thermos by filling with boiling water, discard water and fill with hot food.

Try to be creative and make different lunch combinations. Who says you can't put granola on a sandwich? If it is food that your child enjoys and is healthy, give it a try! Follow Dietitians of Canada's "Cool" Lunch Guide to make creative new combinations.

Dietitians of Canada's "Cool" Lunch Guide

Start with the Grain

Bread, pasta, bagel, roll, crackers or breadsticks

On top, in between or on the side

Cheese, leftover chicken or turkey, canned fish or hummus

Add a crunch!

Carrots, celery, cucumber, apple, broccoli or cauliflower

Thirst quenchers

Water, milk or100% fruit juice

Kid pleasing additions

Yogourt, pudding, a new sticker or note


For more information on packing healthy lunches, please visit the links below or talk to a Registered Dietitian at your local Public Health Office or Community Health Centre.

Healthy Lunck - Snacks



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