Healthy Lunch and Snack Ideas for School

Eating well is one of the most important things parents and caregivers can do for their children’s health.

Healthy foods and beverages provide the essential nutrients kids need to grow and develop, as well as the energy and nutrients children need to learn and play. Since children spend a large part of their day at school, it is important to pack healthy lunches and snacks to fuel their active bodies and minds.

Use Canada’s Food Guide to build a healthy lunch

When planning your child’s school lunch, try to include a variety of foods. For a well-balanced lunch, include vegetables and fruit, whole grain foods and protein foods. Use the Eat Well Plate to help plan healthy lunches.

  • Vegetables and fruit
    Include plenty of vegetables and fruit in your child’s meals and snacks. Fresh, frozen or canned vegetables and fruit can all be healthy options.
  • Whole grain foods
    Include a variety of whole grain foods.  Read the ingredient list and choose foods that have the words ‘whole grain’.
  • Protein foods
    There are many different types of protein foods to choose from. Choose protein foods that come from plants more often.

Plan healthy snacks

Healthy snacks are important for children. Healthy snacks keep children energized, provide important nutrients, and help to satisfy hunger between meals. For a healthy recess snack, include a vegetable or fruit along with a whole grain food or protein food.

Other tips to help plan healthy school lunches and snacks

  • Plan ahead to help you save time and keep organized.
  • Get your child involved in planning and packing their lunch and snacks.
  • Use leftovers for quick lunches.
  • Use an insulated lunch bag and an ice pack to keep cold foods cold.
  • Use a thermos to keep hot foods hot (e.g. soup, chili, leftovers).
  • Be aware of allergies at school.

For more back-to-school meal planning tips when planning school lunches and snacks, check out our StoryLine story and video, ‘Back to school – Planning meals for your young children.’

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