Delicious Lunch Ideas For Kids and Students

No more lunch box blues!

When I was in school and especially in the college years, it came to be known as “the dreaded lunch”. That one last task that had to be completed either the night before or in the rushed morning before heading out for the day. But as much as I dreaded the chore, when lunchtime rolled around, I was never disappointed to be able to tap into my little sack of food. Not only did the lunch provide the energy to fuel my learning later in the day, it helped this “broke student” from having to spend valuable cash grabbing something on the run.

A packed lunch serves many purposes beyond the obvious. For optimal nourishment, ideally, it includes at least one choice from 3, if not all 4, of the major food groups (vegetables-fruit, grain products, meat or alternates and milk products.) It’s a time saver. It prevents you from having to take time to decide what you want to buy and then waiting in line somewhere. It saves money. The typical packed lunch made at home will cost about $3 compared to an average of close to $10 when bought on the fly. It can be fun. Yes, especially for kids, they can have fun in the kitchen with Mom or Dad as they work together to pack something they enjoy. A packed lunch can include a healthy treat for trading with a friend or a little dessert item that adds pleasure to the day – for kids and grownups alike. On special days, add a note to your kids (or sweethearts) lunch telling them you love them or including a funny joke. No more brown bags and disposal packaging, the daily necessity of a packed lunch can also be jazzed up when packed in a snazzy, reusable insulated pack with colourful containers, an insulated drink container, and even a small ice pack if refrigeration is not an option.

What to pack? I’m not going to suggest peanut butter and jelly or ham sandwiches and carrot sticks. You know those already! For kids or adults, here’s my guide with just a few examples to never tiring of the same lunch. Choose an item from at least 3, if not all 4, of the columns in the chart below.

Whole Grains Protein Vegetables/Fruit Milk Products
  • Whole Grains
  • Protein
  • Vegetables/Fruit
  • Milk Products
  • Sliced bread
  • Pita pocket
  • Wrap
  • Crackers
  • Rice as a base
  • Pasta as a base
  • Bran muffin
  • Pancake “sandwich”
  • Slice of artisan bread
  • Rice crackers
  • Rice (sushi)
  • Tuna, salmon or crab
  • Hummus
  • Grilled chicken or turkey
  • Ham slices
  • Chicken-egg-tofu
  • Lean ground meat
  • Nut butter
  • Chicken or black beans
  • Boiled egg
  • Seafood
  • Cucumber and avocado slices
  • Grated carrot and raisins
  • Tomato and bell peppers
  • Cherry tomatoes and mushrooms
  • Bean sprouts, broccoli, green onion
  • Tomato-vegetable sauce? Odd?
  • Grapes and melon slices
  • Banana slices
  • Dark green salad as a base
  • Asian coleslaw as a base
  • Cobb-style salad
  • Edamame (soybean pods)
  • Swiss cheese
  • Vanilla soy milk
  • Grated cheddar
  • Cheese slices
  • Chocolate milk
  • Latte
  • Milk to drink
  • Feta cubes
  • Soy milk to drink
  • Cubes of cheese
  • Steamed soy milk

As for all meals, keep lunches varied and colourful – with at least half of the colourful content coming from vegetables and/or fruit. And for more ideas, watch our upcoming Colourful Cooking show!
Lunch never has to be boring or routine again!

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