Nutritional school-lunch ideas

From Grade 1 until the end of high school, a student may eat more than 2,400 lunches at school.

Lunch box chili a healthy alternative.

Lunch box chili a healthy alternative.

From Grade 1 until the end of high school, a student may eat more than 2,400 lunches at school.

And creating that many tasty, nutritious meals can be a challenge for parents, say the Dietitians of Canada.

But with some planning and a few ideas, you can put together a lunch that not only tastes great, but also packs the nutrition that children need in their busy days.

Here are two suggestions:

Lunch Box Chili

This can be placed in an insulated container or if you have access to a microwave oven, warm it up at school or work.

250 ml (1 cup) cooked rice

175 ml (3/4 cup) canned kidney beans, drained and rinsed

125 ml (1/2 cup) frozen corn kernels

1 medium tomato, chopped

50 ml (1/4 cup) diced green bell pepper

30 ml (2 tbsp) finely chopped onion

1 ml (1/4 tsp) chili powder

In a microwave-safe bowl, stir ingredients until combined. Microwave on high, loosely covered, for 2 to 3 minutes or until hot. Stir before serving.

Makes 1 serving.

Nutritional information per serving: 447 calories, 18 g protein, 2 g fat, 94 g carbohydrates, 15 g dietary fibre.

Source: Dietitians of Canada Cook Great Food (Robert Rose).

Tuna Avocado Salad

This salad can be served on its own or stuffed into a whole-wheat pita, flour tortilla or spread between two slices of whole-grain bread.

1 can (170 g/6 1/2 oz) water-packed tuna, drained

1 avocado, peeled, pitted and cut into bite-size pieces

1 small tomato, diced

1/2 small red onion, finely chopped

50 ml (1/4 cup) frozen corn kernels, thawed

30 ml (2 tbsp) chopped fresh parsley

30 ml (2 tbsp) olive oil

5 ml (1 tsp) lemon juice

Freshly ground black pepper (optional)

Hot pepper sauce (optional)

In a small bowl, combine tuna, avocado, tomato, red onion, corn, parsley, olive oil, lemon juice, pepper, if using, and hot pepper sauce, if using.

Makes 4 servings.

Nutritional information per serving (values have been rounded to nearest whole number): 201 calories, 10 g protein, 14 g fat, 9 g carbohydrates, 4 g fibre, 121 mg sodium.

Source: “Dietitians of Canada Simply Great Food” (Robert Rose).