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Five-Minute Lunches

08/06/2013 04:19 EDT | Updated 08/06/2013 04:25 EDT
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Food in lunchbox

Getting through the morning rush on school days isn’t easy. Sometimes it’s darn-near impossible. Between ensuring teeth are brushed, shoes are tied, and that homework is in the backpack, there aren’t many moments left to whip up a creative, fun and healthy lunch option.

But there are good reasons to make sure your children are enjoying a midday meal that contains solid nutrients. According to the Canadian Paediatric Society, “As a parent, one of the most important things you do is to help your children learn healthy eating habits. Children need a balanced diet with food from all four food groups -- vegetables and fruit, grain products, milk and alternatives, and meat and alternatives.” Canada's Food Guide can give you a good overview based on your child’s age.

Here are some quick and nutritious lunch solutions that will help your little ones get through the day (without forcing them to trade their homemade meal for chips or pop).

Five-Minute Lunches

Do-It-Yourself Sandwiches

Children love to “do it themselves,” so why not have them be a sandwich artist? Pack up some pita pockets, sliced meat such as turkey or ham and a container with their favourite veggies such as shredded carrots, tomato slices, or lettuce. Include shredded cheese for them to sprinkle on top. Add some grapes and a cup of Market Pantry apple-sauce for a tasty dessert.

Nut-Free and Yummy

Many schools are banning nut products because of severe allergies, meaning that you have to find another way to make the world’s quickest sandwich: the PB & J. Try cream cheese, instead. Slather it on a whole-wheat bagel or an English muffin and make it sweet by adding sliced strawberries or dried cranberries. Or try grilled pineapple or red peppers (from your weekend BBQ) on top. Toss in some edamame or fresh peas for a snack -- kids love to pop them open.

Kids’ Liquid Lunch

A great way to add an energetic burst to the school day (as well as using up your quickly ripening fruit) is blending up a smoothie for lunch. To make it more filling add Greek yogurt, banana, flax seed, and even veggies such as carrots or celery to up the nutrients. Add a Market Pantry chocolate chip granola bar alongside the smoothie for grains, and finish off with some cheese and crackers. Make it a “litter-less lunch” by removing all wrappers and using reusable containers and your kid will have the smallest eco footprint on the playground.

Tart and Tasty

Pre-made tarts are a great way to spice up the old lunch routine. Try using the back-to-school excitement that naturally occurs in your kids to introduce them to new foods and experiences. Make a mini pizza by layering marinara sauce, sliced salami, green peppers, mushrooms and cheese on top and bake in the oven the night before. Added bonus: they taste great cold. Carrot and celery sticks with hummus round out the lunch. And for a recess snack, pack them some organic fruit strips from Archer Farms

Breakfast for Lunch!

Who says that lunch foods have to be, well, lunch foods? You can whip up French toast in a few minutes and then pack it in the lunchbox with a small cup of honey and another of fruit as toppers. Or, toss in a hard-boiled egg, bacon and tomato slices for a mini-brunch in the middle of the week.

It’s worth the effort to ensure your children are munching on healthy foods. Studies have shown that nutritious midday meals can boost academic performance, lower blood pressure and decrease excess weight. So get packing!