All about L.U.N.C.H

August 30th, 2013

School is back in session, and as kids head into the classroom many parents are scrambling to ensure the back-to-school to do list is complete. It’s not always easy. However, packing school lunches doesn’t have to add to the stress. Here my quick L.U.N.C.H guide to help you focus on what’s most important when planning, preparing and packing school lunches.

L – Lunches should expand what’s “Likable.”

Like adults, children want to eat foods they enjoy. However, that doesn’t mean as parents we need to resort to the same old familiar foods, day after day. As parents it’s our job to help and support children learn to like and accept new foods. When introducing a new food always pair it with a well-liked or familiar food. That makes the new food less intimidating, and at least that way you know your child won’t go hungry. Offer new foods in various forms – always consider taste, temperature and texture. For example, if your child doesn’t like straight-up chickpeas, try roasted chickpeas for a crunchy twist, or pureed in a hummus dip.

U – Lunches need to be “Unique” for whom it’s made.

Pack lunches based on your child’s needs. Consider his or her age, activity level and appetite. Remember kids have small bellies and need to eat smaller more frequent meals and snacks. Some parents will say, “My kid brings home half their lunch, everyday.” I usually respond by asking – how much are you packing? For younger kids pack smaller portions, older kids larger portions. Don’t be afraid to send a half a banana, or a smaller piece of fruit. Remember, on PE or intramural days pack an extra healthy snack, and of course a water bottle.

N – Most importantly, lunches need to be “Nutritious.”

Nutrition is and should be at the center of lunch. A balanced and nutritious lunch starts with the four Food Groups. Aim to include all four Food Groups at each meal. This will ensure a variety of nutrients are being provided and over time your child is more likely to get the nutrition he/she needs. Consider over the course of your child’s schooling they will have almost 2500 school lunches. This is a huge opportunity to develop healthy habits and support healthy growth and development. Don’t waste it.

C – A fun lunch is a “Creative” one.

Like adults, kids eat with their eyes and love to eat with their hands. Break out the cookie cutters and funky straws. Make lunch fun. You don’t have to default to sweet or salty treats to enhance the lunch experience. Add little jokes, or activity cards. Better still, what about a little note for an extra 15 minutes to stay up tonight! Be creative in the sense that you make mealtime a positive and enjoyable experience.

H – Kids need to get “Hands-on” with their own lunch.

Like all meals, lunch needs to be hands-on. As kids grow and mature they can take more and more ownership of their lunches by helping with planning, shopping, preparing and packing. A kid that packs his/her own lunch is more likely to eat it. They know what to expect and they’ve exercised autonomy in picking between healthy choices. A kid getting schooled in the kitchen is a recipe for a healthy life-long relationship with food.

For more tips, recipes and creative ideas tune in to CTV Edmonton Morning Live tomorrow morning for all things back to school lunch!

Feature Recipes:

1. Mighty Mac

Please see CTV recipe page.

2. Not Your Average Chicken Finger


  • 2, 4 oz. chicken breasts, cut into strips


  • ½ cup whole grain bread crumbs
  • ¼ cup flaxseed meal
  • ¼ cup wheat germ
  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese


  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Slice chicken breasts and cut into strips.
  • Prepare breading by combining ingredients and add to large Ziploc baggie.
  • Add strips, two or three at a time and shake to coat.
  • Add coated strips to a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes, or until cooked and golden.

3. Lentil Granola Bars