COVID-19 Blog Series: Healthy Lunch Ideas
- Written by Samira Ali, Ceilidh McConnell, Alexis Webster, Lynne Lafave
COVID-19 has been an adjustment for adults and children alike. As we all navigate through these unprecedented times, it is important to remember that feeling overwhelmed and uncertain is normal. With this in mind, we are releasing a COVID-19 Blog Series over the next few weeks! In these blog posts, you will find a wide array of useful resources on topics such as Healthy Lunch Ideas for Parents, Physical Activity and Social Distancing, and Mental Health and Well-Being. We sincerely hope you will find these resources helpful while navigating these challenging times. This week, we are starting things off with Healthy Lunch Ideas!
As you know, the re-opening of child care centres throughout Alberta has come with changes to ensure children return to a fun but safe environment. Providing children with a nutritious lunch has always been important, however, new regulations require many centres to do things a little differently than before. In addition, many parents may now be sending lunches and could be on the hunt for new, nutritious ideas. Below we have outlined some of our favourite online resources that provide recipes and ideas for lunches and snacks that are nutritious, tasty, and won’t take long to prepare.
Alberta Health Services
Alberta Health Services is a great hub for resources on healthy eating! The following are some of our favourite links that will provide you with useful information on packing a nutritious lunch and fun recipes that kids and adults alike are sure to love:
What’s For Lunch – Check out this link if you are looking for information on what a healthy lunch bag looks like, plus it includes 7 great menu ideas to get parents started!
Alberta Health Services also made this information more accessible by translating this resource into four other languages. The additional links can be found here:
Child Care Recipes – Still serving meals at your centre? This resource offers a variety of healthy dishes designed for early learning and child care centres. All recipes included have been scaled to serve 50.
Quick and Easy Meals – We know how busy everyone is these days. This link provides some great tips on how to make the most of your time including how to meal plan, prep, and pack for a busy week. As well, there are 12 meal ideas for breakfast, lunch, or dinner that are definitely worth a try.
Inspiring Healthy Eating – On the hunt for some new recipes? Check out this webpage for lots of great ideas, including low-sodium options, drinks, and desserts. Our favourites this season include:
Healthy Eating Starts Here – A great resource list with information on healthy eating for children of all ages! Perfect for child care centres, schools, and parents. Furthermore, check out Tips to Spend Less Money on Food, to learn how to eat healthy without breaking the bank.
Menu Planning Early Learning & Child Care – Looking to switch up your centre’s menu? This resource list is tailored to early learning and child care centres and includes lots of useful information on how to provide children with nutritious meals.
Feeding Tiny Tummies – A wonderful guide for early learning and child care professionals, developed by registered dietitians. Covers everything from nutrition to safe food handling and the feeding relationship.
Weekly Menu Planner – A simple template that can be printed to help organize meal planning throughout the week. This could be used at the centre when planning out your menu or for parents who want to give meal planning a try!
Healthy Grocery List – A ready-to-go shopping list full of healthy ingredients to prepare you for a trip to the grocery store. This is a great tool to make grocery shopping nice and quick, which can be helpful during COVID times. Simply check off items you need and include other items you may want to the list!
Peanut and Tree Nut-Free Meals and Snacks – One of the challenges child care centres often face when serving food is ensuring the menu accommodates every child’s dietary needs. This often includes having to avoid certain ingredients for children with food allergies. Check out this resource for information on peanut and tree nut allergies, which are common allergies among children.
Keeping School Lunches Safe – A comprehensive list of guidelines parents and educators can refer to in order to ensure the food children are served is safe. This link includes great information on how lunches should be prepared and stored, to make sure the food won’t make children sick.
Dietitians of Canada
Another organization that has put together some great resources regarding healthy eating is the Dietitians of Canada. Their interactive webpage Cookspiration is user friendly and full of great ideas. Below we have linked a few of our favourite pages on this website:
Menu Planning – A fantastic tool that customizes meal plans and provides recipes based on your personal food goals and dietary restrictions.
Kid-Friendly – A library of delicious and nutritious child-friendly recipes. Our favourites include:
Meant2Prevent is an initiative developed in collaboration with 13 of Canada’s children’s hospitals. Their website provides a variety of resources for healthy eating and physical activity to promote healthy lifestyles and ultimately, prevent pediatric type 2 diabetes.
Meant2Prevent Kitchen – Their food-focused webpage includes a library of recipes for any meal, with the ability to filter by dietary restriction and cooking difficulty. Check out favourites – just in time for Halloween!
Nutrition Blog – The Meant2Prevent nutrition blog is a wonderful source of information. Where they deep-dive into all kinds of topics on food and nutrition, including how-to blogs and quizzes to test your knowledge.
Cooking for your centre and/or your family is an important job that can have time and stress impacts. We recognize this responsibility and hope that these resources offer some support. Refer back to this blog post if you are ever in need of inspiration or looking for tools to make meal planning a little bit easier.
Make sure to check back next week for the next installation in our COVID-19 Blog Series where we will be outlining some amazing mental health resources! As well, be sure to follow us @CHEERSforchildcare on Facebook and Instagram for tons of great ideas and new information.