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School Lunches

Children and youth will eat about 1/3 of their daily food intake at school.1 A healthy school lunch provides the energy needed to learn, grow and play. Here are some ideas to help with packing healthy lunches.

Lunch Packing Tips

  • Involve your child

    Have your child or teen help you plan the lunch menus for the week. Be sure to use Canada’s Food Guide to help you make healthy choices. Let your child or teen choose between different healthy options.
  • Pack a variety of nutritious foods

    Offer a variety of vegetables and fruits, whole grain foods and protein foods. This will help your child get all the nutrients they need to grow and take on the second half of the day.
  • Don’t forget vegetables & fruits

    Vegetables and fruit are an important part of healthy eating. Create a balanced meal by trying to fill ½ the lunch pail with vegetables and fruits each day. Experiment with different types, colours, and shapes to suit your child’s preferences.
  • Be creative

    Try offering sandwiches on different types of whole grain products (rolls, pitas, tortilla etc.). Combine new foods your child has tried before with old favourites to help encourage variety.
  • Plan ahead

    Prepare lunches the night before. This will save you time in the morning! Include your child in packing lunches by giving them age-appropriate activities.
  • Pack a healthy drink

    Choose water as the drink of choice. White milk and unsweetened fortified plant-based beverages (e.g., soy, almond, etc,) are also healthy choices. Avoid packing drinks high in sugar or sodium (pop, juice, sport drinks, sweetened milks, sweetened plant-based beverages, hot chocolate).
  • Be a role model

    Try new foods with your child. Make sure you also eat or pack your lunch each day.
  • Include an occasional treat

    Try to include healthy desserts most often (fruit kabobs with yogurt dip, homemade oatmeal cookies), but treats are okay sometimes.
  • Keep lunches safe

    Keep hot foods hot by using a thermos and keep cold food cold by using ice packs or and insulated lunch bags.
  • Peanut/nut-safe schools

    Many schools are peanut/nut-safe to keep kids with food allergies safe. Be sure to check with your school about policies related to food allergies.
Date of creation: January 21, 2013
Last modified on: November 12, 2021


1Saskatchewan Ministry of Education (2009). Nourishing Minds – Towards Comprehensive School Community Health: Nutrition Policy Development in Saskatchewan Schools.