Beat the Back to School Snack Blues!

Our PCN Registered Dietitians answers the top 5 questions they get in hopes to reduce your stress of packing lunches and snacks and your school year off to a healthy start!

1. What do I pack?

– Snack foods are a huge industry and have a whole aisle dedicated to them which only adds to the snack confusion.  Most packaged items likely contain added sugar, added salt and an added expense
– Rule of Thumb – STICK TO THE BASICS!
– Choose from Canada’s Food Guide:

2. How do I get my kid to eat what I pack?

– Involving your kids in the packing, preparing and decision making of their snacks and lunches are an important part of developing healthy skills and healthy eating habits for the future.
– This does not mean a lot of work or mess.
o Assign jobs depending on age and skills. Younger kids can be involved in washing, mixing and putting food into containers. Older kids are able to be involved in practicing math and science by measuring and counting as well as the chopping, mixing and making decisions around what goes into their lunch.
o Take your kids grocery shopping and have them pick out a fruit or vegetable each week. As a family, make a decision on how you are going to prepare or serve that food item.
o Expect spills and messes and provide children with positive feedback on their cooking effort to encourage continued participation.
o Choose a time during the day or week that your kids are more likely to want to be involved.  Avoid doing this when they are tired or busy and feeling rushed. You want this to be FUN!

Also remember that as a parent you are responsible for providing healthy options however your kids are responsible for their hunger in order to build healthy relationships with food.

3. My school is peanut aware/free what is left to pack?
– People are more aware of food allergies. Check with your school/child care facilities on their policies around food allergies. Some schools now might only be “nut aware” versus “nut free”.
– As soon as people hear “nut allergy” they panic – “what can I send it I cant send peanut butter sandwiches?”  THINK BEYOND PEANUT BUTTER.
– Be assured that there are a variety of healthy food choices that don’t contain peanuts!

4. Seriously, what do I put in my kids lunches and for snacks?

– Dips!! Most kids LOVE dips. Try pita chips and bean dip or salsa, cut up fruit with a yoghurt dip, cut up vegetables and dip or hummus.
– Change up your bread. Choose whole grain pitas, tortillas or wraps.
– Pick foods that are colourful.
– Make your own trail mix – whole grain high fibre cereal, dried fruit and roasted chick peas
– Have your kids pick out a fun lunch kit or containers.
– Kids might only have around 20 minutes to eat – try to have everything cut up and ready to go .
– Remember food safety – keep foods cool with ice packs or frozen milk or water and hot foods in thermoses.

Here are some great sites for lots of ideas for kids lunches and snacks and yourself that are fun to put together as a family!  I have put out a few recipes from these sites that I think would be great to add into any lunch or snack and will be ending up in my kids lunches this year!

5. How do we get more protein in snacks and meals?
Check out the recipes for Lentil Granola bars, Roasted Chick peas and Chick pea Hummus and Lentil Bites.

If you would like to meet with one of our Registered Dietitians, ask you PCN family doctor for a referral: