Great lunch ideas for camp or school.
Jul 25, 2017
Whether your child is heading off to day camp or you’re already planning for school in September, sending them off with a hearty, healthy and delicious lunch is extremely important in making everyday successful. Of course, there are so many allergies and sensitivities out there, so be sure to check with the program or school coordinator to ensure you meet the requirements, like going nut-free.
Tip #1: Involve your child so that they actually eat and enjoy their lunch
At the risk of having to say, “No,” multiple times to sugary foods and candy requests, do your best to involve your child in the shopping and preparing of their lunches. This way, they can tell you what they like and don’t like, might mention what other kids are eating, and eventually (or hopefully) get a feel for making their own balanced lunch. This also helps to educate your children at a young age, about what it means to have proper nutrition and how it helps them grow.
Tip #2: You can never go wrong with a sandwich
It’s a lunchtime staple: the classic sandwich. But it doesn’t have to be the standard PB&J (which, now isn’t really allowed anyway). There’s so much that you can do with a sandwich that mixes and matches each of the food groups, and will keep your child full until dinner. Look for a healthy, multigrain bread, wrap or bagel, and pick your favourite protein, like a lunch meat such as bologna, summer sausage or ham, then add some lettuce, tomatoes or cucumbers - or any other veggie he or she loves to eat. Shake things up with different sauces, like adding hummus or guacamole, or use a different protein or grain to every day is something new.
Tip #3: A heavy duty salad
This may sound too grown up, but believe me when I say this one is a great way to fill them up until dinner time. Like a solid sandwich, there’s a ton of options for shaking things up, while still feeling full. Start with a base green, like spinach, romaine lettuce, kale or spring mix, then add chilled quinoa, chickpeas, chicken, or any kind of protein they enjoy. From here, add their favourite fruits and vegetables like cucumbers, carrots, strawberries, blueberries, cranberries and more. Adding nuts and seeds (double check with the school or camp on this) like sunflower or pumpkin seeds, with almonds or walnuts, is a great way to add protein and the good kind of fats to keep your child full. This works wonderfully because there are no limits to what does in a salad, let alone what kind of dressing goes on top - just keep it on the side so nothing gets soggy, and your child will be a happy camper.
If your child can’t quite take an interest in this kind of salads, keep in mind you can always make a fun macaroni, potato, quinoa, chickpea or fruit salad instead. There really is no limit to what you do with salad!
Tip #4: Use fun and creative lunch bags and boxes
Sometimes it’s not about what’s inside the lunch bag, but rather, what fun character or shape they’re eating it out of. This is an excellent way to send your child off with the leftovers from last night, or a good way to try something new and exciting. Having your child pick out what their lunch will be in, and it will get them extra excited to help you prepare it and eat it up for lunch!
Tip #5: A miscellaneous snack-box full of goodies
This may seem like an obvious one, but sometimes a collection of their favourite nutritious and delicious things can put a huge smile on their face. It’s a great way to mix and match crunchy vegetables and sweet fruit, with crackers and cheese or hummus, apple sauce, hearty homemade muffins, granola bars and much more. This works well as a fun, easy lunch -- especially when you didn’t quite have time to make it to the store to get everything you needed.
Tip #6: Try making easy to eat foods as a family
If you’ve got time to spare and want to get your children involved in the cooking and preparing process, take the time to try out different recipes that will incorporate a lot of their favourite foods, such as homemade sushi, wraps and more, so long as it doesn’t need to be reheated. Of course, this requires a bit more time, but you’d be surprised how easy some foods are to make - and it serves as a fun learning and bonding experience for you and your child. Just, make sure they’re supervised at all times, to be safe.
Tip #7: Ask around and check out social media
It’s easy to get stuck in a food rut when it comes to meals for any age or time of day. If you are running out of ideas and don’t have time for a cooking class, check out social media accounts such as Tasty on Facebook, or scroll through Pinterest, where you can find millions of meal ideas that will help you put even the strangest of ingredients into one delicious meal.
If you aren’t big on social media, talk to some of the other parents at school to see what they’ve been sending their kids to school with, or ask your child if there’s anything other kids are eating that they’d like to try.