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Préparer des repas scolaires sains implique bien plus que de la nourriture


It’s that time of the year when our children are heading back to school. This includes thinking about what to prepare for their lunches. There are a few considerations when evaluating what will makes a good school lunch. They include the benefits of (1) involving your children in preparing their lunch, (2) ensuring the lunch is healthy, and (3) making sustainable choices in lunch preparations.

The Importance of Involving Children in School Lunch Preparation

Involving children in school lunch preparation has benefits

Getting your kids involved in making their school lunch can be a great way to spend quality time interacting while teaching them valuable like skills. There are numerous benefits to your child’s overall development and well-being. Here are some of the key advantages:

  1. Nutritional Awareness: When children participate in preparing their own lunches, they become more aware of the nutritional content of different foods. This can help them make healthier food choices and develop a better understanding of balanced meals.
  2. Healthy Eating Habits: Involving kids in the lunch preparation process encourages them to choose a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. They are more likely to eat what they have helped create, leading to the development of lifelong healthy eating habits.
  3. Independence and Responsibility: Preparing their own lunches empowers children to take responsibility for their own needs. They learn about planning, organizing, and managing tasks, fostering a sense of independence and self-reliance.
  4. Creativity and Decision-Making: Allowing kids to choose from a variety of food options and create their own meals encourages creativity and decision-making. This process helps them develop a sense of ownership and personal preference when it comes to food.
  5. Life Skills: Basic cooking and food preparation skills are essential life skills. Teaching children how to handle ingredients, use kitchen tools safely, and follow simple recipes equips them with practical skills they can use throughout their lives.
  6. Waste Reduction: When kids are involved in the lunch-making process, they often have a better understanding of portion sizes and their own appetites. This can lead to less food waste as they are more likely to pack and consume the right amount of food.
  7. Family Bonding: Preparing meals together provides an opportunity for quality family time. It’s a chance for parents and kids to bond, talk, and share their day, making the process of lunch preparation enjoyable and meaningful.
  8. Financial Literacy: Involving kids in meal planning can also introduce them to basic budgeting concepts. They can learn about the costs of different foods, how to plan meals within a budget, and the value of home-cooked meals compared to store-bought options.
  9. Cultural Appreciation: Engaging in meal preparation can expose children to different cuisines and cultures. This can lead to a greater appreciation for diverse foods and traditions from around the world.
  10. Reduced Picky Eating: When kids have a say in what goes into their lunches, they are more likely to eat the food they’ve chosen. This can be particularly helpful for picky eaters who may be more willing to try new foods when they’ve had a hand in selecting them.
  11. Time Management: Preparing lunches requires planning ahead and managing time effectively. Kids can learn important time management skills as they decide what to pack, when to pack it, and how to balance their morning routines.

Overall, involving kids in preparing their school lunches can be a fun and educational experience that contributes to their personal growth, health, and well-being. It’s important to tailor the level of involvement to their age and abilities, ensuring a positive and safe cooking environment.

Now that we have seen the benefits of involving your kids in preparing their school lunches, here are some tips to engage them in the process:

  1. Give them the right tools: Using the right tools can expand the list of things they can prepare safely. A safe wooden knife for kids has many features that will include younger children at an earlier stage in cutting and contributing to food preparation safely. JUstenbois has the Chop Chop that will allow your child to start chopping.
  2. Let them measure ingredients: This will allow them to learn about quantities. It may help to improve their math skills without realizing it. For example, you need to double the recipe. What is 2 times ½ cup?
  3. Stay away from repetitive tasks: Children have much shorter attention spans than adults. A reasonable attention span to expect of a child is two to three minutes per year of their age. If you want to ensure that they remain involved, given them appropriate tasks that are short in duration.
  4. Let them choose the recipe: This will make them feel empowered. They usually get pretty excited about it and will be far more likely to eat it. They may surprise you with the unusual choices.
  5. Have them help to review ingredients: Once they have chosen a recipe, have them help to see if you have everything in the house. If not, have them help by writing out the grocery list and if possible, bring them to the grocery store to shop for the ingredients. Grocery shopping is a skill best learned at a young age.
  6. Let them experiment with flavours: They may become more adventurous when it comes to tasting new things if you let them add a few extra ingredients to the regular recipe.
  7. Get their hands dirty: There are many ways that they can lend a helping hand. Chopping, peeling, mixing, measuring, and stirring will give them more knowledge of the steps involved in food preparation. Don’t be surprised if they make a little mess or two.

All in all, there are many ways to involve your children in preparing the school lunches. It is important to tailor the level of involvement to their age and abilities. This ensures a positive and safe cooking environment.

The Importance of a Healthy School Lunch

Healthy school lunches help children in their studies

Promoting healthy school lunches is essential for ensuring the well-being and proper development of students. A balanced and nutritious meal can contribute to improved concentration, energy levels and overall health.

Making healthy food choices at school should reflect their taste, culture, and budget. There are lots of healthy options. Choose foods that have little to no added sodium, sugars, or saturated fats. Compare the nutrition facts table on food to choose the healthier options.

Here are some ideas for creating healthy school lunches:

  1. Incorporate a Variety of Foods: Include a mix of whole grains, lean proteins, healthy fats, fruits, and vegetables to provide a well-rounded meal. This ensures that students receive a diverse range of nutrients.
  2. Whole Grains: Opt for whole-grain bread, pasta, and rice instead of refined grains. Whole grains provide more fiber and nutrients, helping students feel fuller and maintaining steady energy levels.
  3. Lean Proteins: Include lean protein sources like grilled chicken, turkey, beans, lentils, tofu, or low-fat dairy products. Protein is crucial for growth and maintaining muscle mass.
  4. Fruits and Vegetables: Offer a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables to provide essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Fresh, frozen, or even dried fruits can be great options.
  5. Healthy Fats: Incorporate sources of healthy fats such as nuts, seeds, avocados, and olive oil. These fats support brain health and provide sustained energy.
  6. Limit Processed Foods: Minimize or eliminate highly processed foods that are high in added sugars, unhealthy fats, and sodium. Instead, focus on whole, minimally processed ingredients.
  7. Hydration: Encourage students to drink water throughout the day. Avoid sugary beverages and sodas. Water is essential for staying hydrated and supporting cognitive function.
  8. Portion Control: Offer appropriately sized portions based on the age and nutritional needs of the students. Pay attention to portion sizes to prevent overeating.
  9. Include Dairy or Dairy Alternatives: Low-fat dairy products or fortified dairy alternatives like almond milk or soy milk can provide essential calcium and vitamin D for bone health.
  10. Allergen Considerations: Consider any allergies or dietary restrictions among all the students in the school. Often schools provide a list of forbidden foods to prevent unintended contact with the food allergy. Offer suitable alternatives to accommodate their needs.
  11. Homemade vs. Pre-Packaged: Whenever possible, prepare lunches using fresh ingredients. This allows for better control over the quality and nutritional content of the meals.
  12. Menu Planning: Plan menus ahead of time to ensure a variety of meals over the week. Rotate different proteins, grains, and fruits and vegetables to keep lunches interesting.
  13. Creative Presentation: Make the lunches visually appealing to entice students to eat healthier foods. Use colorful containers and creatively arrange foods to make them more inviting.
  14. Collaboration with Nutritionists: Work with nutrition professionals to design well-balanced menus that meet the nutritional needs of students. They can provide expert guidance on portion sizes, nutrient requirements, and special dietary considerations.

Remember, creating healthy school lunches is a collaborative effort that involves educators, parents, and students. By prioritizing nutrition and providing wholesome options, you can play a significant role in promoting the health and well-being of your child.

The Importance of Making Sustainable Choices for School Lunches

Incorporating sustainable choices when preparing school lunches could help the environment

Incorporating sustainability into school lunches involves considering factors like sourcing local and seasonal ingredients, reducing meat consumption, avoiding single-use plastics, and promoting food education. By doing so, schools play a vital role in shaping healthier, more environmentally conscious citizens and fostering a sustainable future.

  1. Excess Single-Use Packaging: Plastic is the worst culprit in contributing to waste. Food packaging materials make up nearly half of all municipal solid waste. Not only is the waste created by plastic a problem, the manufacturing of plastic is also a problem. Opting for home-made lunches in reusable containters is the solution to avoid creating excess single-use plastic waste.
  2. Food Waste: When food goes to waste, not only are we creating physical waste that ends up in our landfills, but we are also wasting all the natural resources that were needed to create or grow that food. More specifically the water, soil, and nutrients need to grow our food is all wasted. Opting to pack appropriately sized lunch portions will help to minimize food waste. Keep track of what your child brings home so you can adjust portion sizes.
  3. Food Choices: The food choices we make directly impact the environment. Unsustainable agricultural practices, food production, and transportation contribute to deforestation, greenhouse gas emissions, water pollution, and soil degradation. Opting for locally grown food choices will help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  4. Eco-Friendly School Lunch Supplies: Single use packaging an important consideration to eliminate. Replacing these supplies with environmentally friendly options is important. Here is a list of some supplies that should be environmentally friendly with a few choices to help:
    • Lunch bags: Should be made of natural fibers, like linen, cotton, or canvas. Should be easy to clean and maintain. Should be PVC and BPA free. SoYoung and LaLooma both have great options.
    • Lunch boxes or containers: Should be completely plastic free. Should be spill-proof and not too heavy. Because glass is heavy and can break, this is not an option for school lunches. Stainless steel is a great option. It should be PVC and BPA free. PlanetBox has a few options.
    • Snack bags: Should follow the same recommendations as lunch bags. LaLooma has a few great options.
    • Water bottles: Should avoid plastic. Recommend stainless steel as it is less prone to breakage. Recommend inner ceramic coating to not alter taste of liquid. Should have a leak proof cap. QUE has a great option.
    • Utensils: Single-use plastic utensils should be avoided. JUstenbois has a great option with maple wood cutlery for children that can last up to 15 years.
    • Napkins: Re-usable napkins instead of paper should be used. Napkins should be made of natural fibers, like cotton or linen. CheeksAhoy has some great options.
    • Ice Packs: Should be filled with non-toxic food safe filler. SoYoung has matching ice packs to their lunch bags.

Making sustainable choices for school lunches involves not only making healthy meal choices, but also eco-friendly lunch supplies choices. There are more and more options available to you as more people become part of the movement towards these responsible choices.

Finally, making a good school lunch has three key elements: involving your children in preparing their lunch, ensuring their lunch is healthy, and making sustainable choices in lunch preparations. If you follow these three elements your child will learn, grow, and appreciate their environment.

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