Although I don't have to pack many lunches this year, I know lots of people who do. And I remember the struggles I used to go through to get a healthy and affordable lunch together for the Teen. That he would eat. And do that while I was racing around trying to get us all out the door on time (with my make-up on instead of in my purse if I was really lucky).
Well, dear readers, I am happy to share with you some great tips that have been sent along by Metro in Ontario. For those of you outside Ontario or Quebec, this is a supermarket chain, and is my usual grocery shopping spot. They do Air Miles in the Ontario stores and always have great bonus point offers. Plus, I find they have a fabulous butcher's counter and a great selection of quality produce. They do seem to bring in local as much as they can, which I appreciate.
With the Back-to-School season upon us, Metro Ontario has partnered with Food Network chef, Donna Dooher, to create some yummy recipes, tips, and giveaways to help ease the transition.You can find these recipes and tips on how to prepare meals for your family all year-round at facebook.com/metro.ontario
Here are the tips from Donna. Think about these as you are planning your attack on the lunch situation. I'm sure you'll find something new here to consider!
Tips for healthy options:
- Portion Control- Keep portions in mind to avoid waste and overeating. When making your kids’ lunch, try the Irresistibles Life Smart loafs or bagels. Not only do they help with portion control, they are packed with beta glucan, which is proven to reduce cholesterol and boost the immune system!
- Fruits and vegetables- If your kids are resistant to fresh produce, have them participate in the buying process. Make your grocery run a family outing and educate everyone on seasonal produce. Eating an apple is much more fun when you've picked it out!
- Include fresh fruit but don’t shy away from a small treat. Even if your child eats this first, it will whet their appetite and entice them to finish the rest of their lunch
- Dips- Having something to dip fruit and veggies in always makes it more enjoyable. Hummus, spinach and roasted red pepper dips are delicious and easy to store. A small container is a perfect accompaniment to cut up vegetables, whole grain breads and crackers.
- Healthy complements – Try to work in protein like chickpeas and lentils as a complement to the dish instead of the main ingredient to ensure a balanced diet that young taste buds won’t shy away from
Tips for preparing cost-effective lunches:
- Purchase in bulk– When shopping for lunch snacks like yogurt or cottage cheese, buying the large container and dividing it into reusable containers each day will be friendly to your wallet and our environment.
- Choose Private Label Brands– An easy way to cut down the grocery bill is to opt for private label brands carried at your grocer. For Metro consider Irresistibles or Selection. You won’t have to sacrifice taste or quality but you’ll notice the difference at the cash register.
- Keep it simple – To save money and make lunches while on a time crunch focus on nutrient dense foods high in fiber. Simple fresh ingredients always taste the best and are the healthiest!
Tips for when you are on a time-crunch:
- Prepare ahead of time – If you've got a busy week ahead, take some time on Sunday evening to chop veggies and fruits so they are ready to divvy up into reusable containers in the mornings when the family is in a rush.
- The power of a team- Get a group of parents together once a month or even start a group email to trade ideas and tips. Your kids are more likely to eat their lunch and not swap it when all their friends are also eating something similar.
- Ask for help – Allowing the kids to help make their own lunches not only provides them with an understanding of what goes into a well balanced meal, it provides you with an extra set of hands in the kitchen to help speed up the process!
Tips for a variety filled lunch:
- Mix up the staples – If your munchkins are tired of traditional sandwiches, try swapping out sliced bread for Irresistibles Life Smart bagels, tortillas, raisin bread or pita pockets for a quick fix and a little variety.
- Make it fun – To keep the kids interested, play with flavours and experiment. Expert Chef Donna Dooher suggests making fruit kabobs, or adding honey to cream cheese and topping with raisins for a tasty cracker spread. Cream cheese or cheese spread on celery is an easy solution to the no peanut butter rule in schools. Create your signature dishes with your kids and give them a fun name; when food comes with a story, kids get excited about eating. Think along the lines of toast soldiers or ants on a log
- Spice up leftovers – Metro knows how hard it can be to come up with dinner options for your picky eaters. By mixing up dinner leftovers into creative lunch options you can save on waste and provide a different lunch every day of the week. Donna Dooher suggests transforming chicken breast and boiled potatoes into a chicken Caesar wrap with tasty hash browns for a lunch your kids will crave.
To help you get those school lunches together, Metro Ontario is offering a prize pack for one lucky Raising My Boys reader. The prize is valued at $130 and includes a lunch bag, thermos, water bottle, and a selection of Irresistibles and Selection snacks. The prize also includes an AIR MILES Bonus card with 285 reward miles - that’s enough for you to redeem $30 off instantly at checkout through AIR MILES Cash!
Entry is via the Rafflecopter widget below. Contest is open to Ontario residents only. Entries will be accepted until 12:00 midnight EDT, September 30, 2012. Best of luck!a Rafflecopter giveaway