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A+ Lunch Boxes!

The lunchbox conundrum is back! This year, think healthy and balanced menus, experiment with new ideas and, most importantly, save by trying out fun, environmentally friendly solutions.


Balanced lunches

A well-balanced lunch includes something from each of the four food groups in Canada’s Food Guide: vegetables and fruit, grain products, dairy foods, and meat and alternatives.

Ideas to liven up lunches for big and small alike!

Did you know that lunches are supposed to contain a third of your daily nutritional requirements? That’s why it’s important to pack your lunchbox with different foods in various colours. Remember: You eat with your eyes first!

Tempt your taste buds with original flavours. Here are a few inspirational ideas to vary the contents of your lunchbox!


Drinks

Go for… water flavoured with fruit, fresh herbs or a few drops of juice, mineral water, homemade iced tea with lemon juice and a drizzle of syrup, vegetable juice, a milkshake, chocolate milk, or a soy, rice or yogurt drink…

Sandwich breads

Change it up with… bagels, Kaiser rolls, tortillas, ciabatta, croissants, egg bread, sesame or poppy seed bread, onion bread, 8-grain bread …

Sandwich toppings

Spread on a little… veggie pâté, tofu spread, hummus, baba ghanoush, prosciutto, cream cheese, alfalfa, radish sprouts, fresh herbs, sliced dill pickle, grated or grilled veggies, sundried tomatoes, avocado puree…

Sides

Indulge in… fresh or canned fruit, fruit purees, dried fruit, chocolaty energy balls, Greek yogurt, sesame bars, a muffin, or homemade zucchini bread…



8 great plans for a healthy, economical lunch!

Healthy Plan

1Buy real juice

When you buy fruit juice, look for the word “juice.” If you can’t find the word on the packaging, then it’s a drink—either a cocktail or fruit punch. These contain as little as 10% fruit juice and are high in sugar. Keep your eyes peeled!

2Pick the proper proteins

Go for the leanest cuts of meat, poultry and fish. Eat a lot of legumes, which are high in protein and low in fat.

3Go for the right grains

Pick products made with whole grains or enriched with fibre. How can you tell? See packaging for a mention of “whole grains,” which lets you know all parts of the grain were used, plus check the nutrition label for ingredients rich in fibre (at least 2g of fibre per portion). Add variety to your menu by including dishes made with quinoa or pot barley. So much more nutritious than white rice!

4Lighten up

Choose milk products that are low in fat and pick condiments with care. For example, replace regular mayonnaise in sandwiches with a light version—a great way to cut calories and fat in half. Or reduce calories by mixing mayonnaise with plain yogurt, or replacing it entirely with hummus, light cream cheese and—why not?—salsa!

5Look for specials

Plan lunch menus based on specials in local flyers. It’s a great way to take advantage of specials and save money.

6Get cooking

A homemade muffin costs just a few cents to make—as opposed to a few dollars to buy at a coffee shop. It’s probably much healthier, too!

7Use your leftovers

Don’t throw out leftover meat like chicken and pork. Instead, blend with rice, couscous or pasta. The kids love macaroni? Mix with leftover chicken, grated zucchini, pieces of different-coloured peppers, fresh parsley, and cubed cheese. Cut down on waste—and save money!

8Think big

When you think lunchboxes, you tend to think small, individually wrapped portions. But not only does buying individual potions cost more than buying bigger sizes, it also creates a lot more waste. Go for family-sized items and pour into reusable bottles or containers. Remember: You can even wash re-sealable bags to use again and again!


Expert Tip

Be careful! Bacteria love foods that are low in acid and rich in proteins, like meat, poultry, fish, eggs, mayonnaise, and milk products. If these foods are left at room temperature for more than two hours, bacteria will start to multiply—which can lead to food poisoning. So be sure to keep lunchboxes cool, either with an ice pack or by freezing drinks (which turn into slush by lunchtime—a fun treat for the kids!).


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