Everything has to be simple, especially as a Mom (or Parent). Time is short and life is busy! As a parent, we make an average of 40 weeks worth of lunches per year. So we aren’t looking to re-invent the wheel each time we pack a lunch for our kids, but we still want to provide a variety of healthful options to keep our children nourished, satisfied and engaged.

Our children average 6.5-8.5 hours away from us each day, so its up to us to make sure we pack a nutritious lunch for our kids everyday – a lunch that is not only nourishing, but also fun and delicious because lets face it, all the nutrients in the world won’t be enough if your kid isn’t willing to EAT IT!

Check out my latest spot on Global News One, talking all about making lunch time a little bit simpler for you.

Here are 7 key tips to building a solid lunch to help your kids thrive in school.

  1. Make sure your kids are HYDRATED during school – hydration is key for mental focus, IMG_4806academic performance. Water is the most important nutrient for detoxification, because it is literally required by EVERY SINGLE CELL in their little bodies (and in our bodies too!) I like Klean Kanteen (Found at Sporting Life) because they are 100% stainless steel, as opposed to glass (which might break) or plastic, which exposes our kids to hormone disrupting chemicals.
  2. Other great options for hydration is a fresh-pressed juice, like one from Juice Matters.  Why is juice matters so great? Because it is easy to access (can be found at Nature’s Emporium, and health food stores across the GTA) there is NO added sugar and NO water added. The sugars found in these juices are functional sugars, meaning your kids body can actually utilize it. It contains naturally occurring vitamins and minerals, all supplied from the 100% non-gmo veggies and fruit used to make the juice, which is going to keep their energy levels up, and steady.
  3.  Screen Shot 2015-09-02 at 11.34.58 AMProvide them with a variety of fun and healthy snacks. Homemade energy bites, like the ones showcased in the video are made with Sunbutter, which is the school-friendly, nut-free version of my recipe for Almond Bites (recipe below).
  4. Re-invent the sandwich – this is actually a time saving tip 🙂 Use Protein Oat Pancakes as the “bread” for the sandwich. Oat Pancakes take literally less than 5 minutes to make from start to finish, and you can make them in advance, to double as breakfast for yourself and your kids. Make a larger batch and freeze them, then just pop them in the toaster when you need to, and they are ready to go. Find the recipe for this nut-free and healthy version of a peanut butter banana sandwich below.
  5. You still need to include those ‘air snacks’ which are snacks with that crunch factor, that are fun to eat. Instead of including the classic potato chips or cookies, try a healthier option such as Mary’s Brown Rice Crackers, Veggie Sticks/Chips, or Snap-pea Crisps…all these snacks are easy to find and full fill that need to snack without sending your child on a blood-sugar roller coaster. This is going to help keep them satisfied during school, which helps them to stay focused.
  6. Using a great tool like these Good Lunch Boxes are an inexpensive and simple way to pack everything Good Lunch Boxesinto one ‘box’. It also provides a great visual for Mom or Dad because it provides enough space for a three course meal. Just fill each compartment with a wide variety of fresh fruits or veggies, crackers, and a sandwich. Made of food-safe, non-toxic, lead-free, PVC-free & phthalate-free polypropylene. 
  7. Don’t forget about YOU – you want to keep yourself nourished as well, so you can keep up with your little ones! Always lead by example, so while your making lunch for your kids, why not pack some snacks for yourself as well? It is a time saver to do all these things at once.

Oat Pancake Turned into a Sun-butter Sandwich:

  • 1/2 cup of rolled oats
  • 1 whole organic egg + 2 egg whites
  • 1/2 banana OR 1/4 cup pineapple or apple or berries
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Take all of the above ingredients and place into a small blender. I love the Hamilton Beach portable blender for this and blend until smooth.  Heat 1 tsp of coconut oil over medium heat in a pan. Pour your mixture in and let it cook until you see the edges browning and the top of your pancake bubbling. Then flip your pancake and continue until cooked through.

While the pancakes are still warm, spread with 2 TBS of Sunbutter and Sprinkle on a few chocolate chips, and maybe add some sliced banana (optional). This meal is protein packed and also includes fibre, B-vitamins for optimal brain function, and is all around scrumptious.

Sunbutter Bites:

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  • 2 1⁄2 cups rolled oats
  • 1⁄2 cup raw pumpkin seeds 
  • 1⁄2 cup raisins
  • 2 tbsp raw sunflower seeds
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1⁄2 cup Sunbutter
  • 1⁄3 cup plus 1 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp barley malt syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • (optional 1–2 tbsp spirulina powder)

Grind 1⁄2 cup oats and 1⁄4 cup pumpkin seeds in food proces- sor until powdery. Transfer to a medium bowl, set aside.

Combine remaining 2 cups oats, remaining 1⁄4 cup pump- kin seeds, raisins, sunflower seeds, and cinnamon in a large bowl. Stir in almond butter, honey, barley malt syrup and vanilla until soft dough forms. If you are using spirulina, add in now as you are mixing.

Moisten hands, and roll dough into 1” balls. Coat balls in oat-pumpkin seed powder. Place in freezer 20 minutes to set, then serve or store in the fridge.

Vanessa Fioretti
Written by Vanessa Fioretti
Vanessa is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and a Nutrition media expert. She is currently working as Jenn's Nutrition intern, and is a producer and developer of Simplicity TV.