Parenting 101: Healthy back-to-school lunch ideas

It wasn't so long ago that I was a child in elementary school eating boring cold-cut sandwiches and frozen dinners every. single. day. I totally understand why though - they make quick and easy lunch options for all those busy parents. That’s why I came up with 3 recipes that are just as easy, but more wholesome than traditional school lunches!

Idea #1: Instead of store-bought frozen dinners, try Buddha Bowls.

Buddha Bowls are made up of grains, greens/vegetables, legumes and additional toppings making them well-balanced and high in vitamins, protein and healthy fats. For some inspiration, follow this reference guide:

1. Choose the grain – Rice, quinoa, millet, buckwheat, couscous, etc.
2. Choose your green and any vegetables you have and like –Spinach, kale, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, asparagus, mushrooms, bell peppers, carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, onions, sprouts, avocado, etc.
3. Choose your legume – Black beans, kidney beans, white beans, black eyed peas, chickpeas, red lentils, brown lentils, peas, edamame, tofu, tempeh, etc.
4. Choose any extra toppings – Nuts, seeds, dressings, etc.

These filling and satisfying bowls are super versatile as they can be made differently each time, so they'll never taste the same!

Buddha bowls are also perfect for meal prepping as you can make large batches and eat them throughout the week. You can also freeze portions if you've made too much or want to have some for weeks ahead.

Idea #2: Instead of cold-cut sandwiches, try a chickpea sandwich.

This protein and iron packed plant-based sandwich is super delicious and full of flavour!

To make it, start by mashing some chickpeas in a bowl, leaving a few of them whole. Then add tahini and Dijon mustard until you reach a desirable consistency. You may also add some salt, black pepper and shallots for an extra kick. Finally, add a scoop or two of the mix into gluten-free, whole grain bread and that’s it!

Idea #3: Instead of Lunchables, try making your own Bento Box lunches!

Since a Bento Box provides compartments, you can add healthy, whole grain and organic crackers in one section, cheese (vegan if preferable) in another, and finish it off with a choice of protein (tofu, tempeh, chicken, etc). In doing so, the children can assemble their homemade “Lunchables” as they would the store-bought ones! Feel free to add some copped fruit or some sugar-free dark chocolate on the side as a dessert!

Hopefully you feel inspired to start making healthier school lunches now that you have some new recipes to try out! That said, don't feel ashamed if you resort to frozen meals and cold-cut sandwich every now and then. Life gets hectic, so always remind yourself that you are just doing the best you can!

-Melissa xo

My name is Melissa Migueis and I am a student at Dawson College in the profile Cinema-Communications. I love to lead a healthy lifestyle by eating clean, being active and keeping a healthy mindset! Oh, and you can always find me somewhere in nature!

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