Ideas to get you out of a rut with school lunches!

Hard to believe that we are well into fall now and I’m sure your fall routine has finally settled in.  I find with routine comes ruts and this can leave you and your kids already getting frustrated with the packing a lunch routine.  As promised from a previous post here are some links and ideas to get you out of your lunch box rut!

1) Check out Eat Right Ontario for ideas and tips!  Here is a sample of what they have to share


What’s a good approach to building a healthy lunch? (see chart and menu ideas)

Step one: Think food groups. Aim to have at least three of the four food group represented in your child’s lunch. Check out Canada’s Food Guide to review the food groups.

Step two: Think outside the sandwich! Get creative when choosing items for your child’s lunch. Sometimes changing something as simple as the type of grain. For example, using pita, flatbread, tortilla, or cereal instead of bread can make lunch more interesting for your little eater. You may even want to write up a simple chart to brainstorm different options. Here are some ideas to get you started. Mix and match the options in the different columns to get a variety of lunch meals.

Veggies and Fruit    Grain Products Milk and Alternatives Meat and Alternatives
Pepper strips (red, green, yellow) Tortillas, flatbread, nann or pita bread Fruit yogurt or soy yogurt Hard cooked egg
Peas in a pod or snow pea pods Cold or hot cereal* Yogurt dip (tzatziki) for veggies Tuna, salmon or chicken salad flavoured with: curry, onions, light mayo, pickles, apples or dill
Baby corn English muffins Milk or fortified soy beverage* Ham slices
Cherry tomatoes Oatmeal muffins Cheese cubes, cheese string or cheese slices Hummus (tahini and ground chickpea dip)
Melon balls Rice cakes Milk-based pudding Refried or baked beans
Fruit smoothie* Whole grain crackers Cottage or ricotta cheese cups Hard cooked egg
Turnip or zucchini sticks Chappati, roti Milk-based soup* Tuna or salmon sandwich
Cauliflower and broccoli trees Pasta, brown rice, couscous, quinoa Cheese-filled pasta (cannelloni, ravioli)* Steamed soybeans (edamame)
Sliced mango Bread sticks Hot chocolate* Marinated cooked tofu

* Foods that need to be kept cold or hot can be packed into a thermos to keep the food at a safe temperature. Cold foods can also be stored with an ice pack or frozen juice box.

Sample lunch #1: Pepper strips with hummus dip, and cheese-filled pasta with tomato sauce.

Sample lunch #2: Marinated cooked tofu in a whole wheat tortilla wrap with shredded lettuce and grated carrot. Add a fruit yogurt on the side.

Sample lunch #3: Why not breakfast for lunch? Hot cereal in a thermos topped with frozen berries and sliced almonds with a cold milk or soy beverage.

Be sure to check out Eat Right Ontario for more lunch time ideas and have your lunch time questions answered!

I thought I would also share a few posts from over on from a fellow Canadian Dietitian, Sarah Remmer.  She has got some great tips and ideas for making lunch time easier!

Here is a video with 5 tips to get help you make lunches that your kids will actually eat!  My favourites include getting kids involved.  No matter how old – Kindergarten or Grade 8 kids can help with the planning, prepping or making their lunch.  The more they’re involved the more likely hey are to eat it and bonus you are teaching them how to do this for the rest of their life!  Talk about win win!

I also love the tip about packing  a finger snack type lunch.  This works for all types of eaters and gives kids a choice when they open their lunch box.  Just be sure to pack them healthy snack options.  Think about including whole foods as those snacks – fruit pieces and yogurt dip, veggies with dip, whole grain crackers or wraps with spreads, popcorn, cheese cubes, leftover meats from dinner can all be transformed into finger foods.


This list is a very creative one, without being too overwhelming or seem like these lunches will take all night to prepare.  A lot of them are just creatively repurposing leftovers from breakfasts, or dinners at home!  I hope you have fun experimenting.

What are you putting together in your lunch boxes these days?  Got any great ideas of tips for getting more fruits and vegetables into lunches?  What do your kids love to eat?  Share your ideas with us below in the comments section and happy lunch making to you and your family!

Have fun!

The Happy Healthy Families Team!

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