09/30/2015 12:36 EDT | Updated 09/30/2016 05:12 EDT

What to Pack in Your Lunch Box

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Young woman making school lunch in the morning

Lunch box confusion is upon us yet again. It is a boomerang issue of what to pack that is healthy, that will get eaten, that avoids nuts and other allergens and that can be packed fast as well as consumed quickly. I am scanning the packages and aisles constantly not only for my own nutrition practice recommendations but so that I can speak eloquently to food clients when they are reformulating products or reprinting packages.

I shall tell you what I tell them:

  1. Read the ingredients, not the marketing. Peanut-free matters, gluten-free does not improve a product unless you are truly gluten sensitive.
  2. Individual packages are handy. Having an approved snack cupboard that kids can take from to get some ownership over their own tummies. You approve everything that goes into that cupboard or fridge shelf (see my list below).
  3. Keep sugar as low as possible. If it is there, make darned sure it also comes with high nutrient, high fibre grains. The World Health Organization suggests 6 teaspoons (25g) and a maximum of 12 teaspoons (50g).
  4. Prepare vegetables on the weekend and make individual packages. Keep veggies in single packages so the peppers don't go mushy and ruin all the celery.
  5. Practice what you preach. Pack your own lunch, it will not only save you money, it will also help you keep tabs on the slow decline of health commitment that can take hold by Halloween.

Some of my favourite things:

Nature's Path Granola bars-Crispy tends to be lower in sugar than chewy. Keep sugar low and fibre high. This granola bar has 3 grams of fibre and 9 grams of sugar.

Weetabix biscuits and a thermos of milk. Particularly for those breakfast skippers, the brain needs slow burning, whole grain, low sugar (Weetabix has only 2 grams) fuel to do all that thinking.

A and M-Hummus comes in a multitude of flavours and is made from a variety of beans. Change it up every week to prevent boredom and encourage the broad palate of different vegetables.

President's Choice Probiotic Drinkable yogurt delivers protein and calcium that may be hard to get elsewhere. Probiotics keep coming up in health news as critical good gut health which is the foundation of all health.

Olivieri-Frozen whole grain tortellini instead of sandwiches. The beauty in these little pocket is that they can be cooked for dinner and then packed without sauce for lunch. Pack some hummus or tomato sauce as dip and you have a great, high protein, kid friendly fun lunch.


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