I hate to break it to you, but it’s time to start thinking about school lunches. Involving your kids in choosing what they want for lunch can help avoid a lot of frustration and wasted food. Sit down with your kids and get a list of things they like and dislike. Then you can make your own kid-approved back to school grocery list to stock up so they can chow down.
Tip: Plan your dinners with an idea for leftovers kids will eat for lunches. Roasted chicken can make great wraps. Leftover taco meat can be great for nachos, simply throw in a lunch container with some chips, cheese, and salsa. Pasta can be reheated and placed in a thermos for chillier days.
If your kids like sandwiches in their lunch bag, make sure your back to school grocery list includes a combination of classic and unique sandwich fixings. Mix things up by using different breads, pitas, and even tortillas to keep sandwiches interesting. Include any or all of the following items on your list:
- Sliced whole-grain bread
- Pitas and/or tortillas
- Deli meat
- Fresh chicken or turkey breasts to roast and slice
- Cheese slices like cheddar, havarti or edam
- Avocados or guacamole
- Lettuce, including romaine hearts, baby spinach (and even arugula if you have an adventurous eater!)
- Jelly and jam
- Cream cheese
Tip: Keep ingredients such as lettuce and tomatoes wrapped separately to avoid a soggy sandwich they won’t want to eat.
Fresh Produce Prep
Try introducing your kids to some new fresh produce ideas in hand with some yummy dressing or dips. You might be surprised at what kids are willing to eat for lunch if they have more options from which to choose. Look for fruits and veggies that are easy to eat and store so they stay fresh and crisp. Add these produce items to your back to school grocery list and switch it up for seasonal favourites:
- Seedless grapes
- Baby carrots
- Cherry tomatoes
- Celery sticks
- Cucumber rounds
- Red pepper strips
- Veggie dips such as hummus, dressings, or cream cheese-based options
- Fruit dips such as vanilla yogurt or a fruit flavoured or chocolate cream cheese spread
Tip: Have a fun taste test with dips and veggies and make a list of the items that get thumbs up.
Most kids enjoy dairy products of some kind. Look for yogurts that are gelatine free with less sugar content and avoid artificial sweeteners. Add some of these items to your back to school grocery list for perfect school snacks:
- Cheese such as Babybells, cheese strings, or cube your own cheddar
- Yogurts such as minis or tubes or drinks
- Fruit and cottage cheese mixes
Tip: Keep an ice pack in the lunch box to keep dairy cool for snack time.
You will usually need a morning and afternoon snack as well as something to tide them over until dinner once they get home. Load up your back to school grocery list with these snack favourites:
- Seasonal fruit
- Nut-free granola bars
- Frozen fruit and yogurt bars (natural choices with less sugars)
- Instant oatmeal
- Eggs (hard boil them for an easy snack)
- Pita chips and hummus
- Whole grain chips and salsa
- Sugarless applesauce and fruit mixes
- Dried fruit including cranberries, blueberries, apples, mangoes and cherries
- Whole grain bagels and cream cheese
- Toast with jams and spreads
Tip: For little ones, number containers 1, 2, and 3 so they know what order to eat each snack.
Having an organized back to school grocery list that is kid-approved will make it easier to zero in on foods they like and therefore will eat. Understanding why they don’t like something will help you come up with better ways to store and prepare foods and introducing new foods at home can help you discover new options to send to school each day.
*It is always important to check with your school and adhere to any and all dietary guidelines for allergies. Most schools and daycares in Ontario have a peanut and nut-free environment.