Starting school is a big occasion for you and your child. During this time, your child’s diet will depend on their level of physical activity and influences from friends, family and the media.
Children should always eat breakfast! They need a well-balanced meal at the start of the day. This will give them energy and help them to concentrate in school. Consider including some options from the table below. If possible, prepare at least some of the breakfast the night before.
Going to school full time means that packing lunches will become part of your child’s new routine. Use the following tips when preparing school lunches.
- Choose from the options in Canada’s Food Guide.
- Provide small portions of food with plenty of variety.
- Pack lunches that are easy to carry and eat (try to avoid messy and mushy foods).
- Use a freezer pack for perishables (food that may go bad).
- Use leftovers that convert well to lunch-friendly meals. Put them in airtight containers.
- Over time, involve your child in preparing lunches.
- Check how much lunch your child brings home. Find out if your child swaps food with friends.
- Work on new lunch ideas over time.
Children have big appetites after school, so be sure to serve healthy snacks. Snack options should include two of the four food groups to sustain your child’s energy levels between meals.
Dinner is a time for the family to connect, so engage all the family in conversation.
Check out the meal and snack options in this table.
Sample meal plan
||Whole wheat toast
Nut butter or cheese
|Cold whole grain cereal with milk
|Bagel with light cream cheese
|Scrambled eggs with whole wheat toast and jam
||Chicken salad sandwich
Melon slices (other fruit)
|Egg salad sandwich
Raw vegetables stick (carrots and celery) with yogurt dip
Fresh or canned peaches
Raw vegetables (tomatoes and cucumber)
Dried fruit (raisins or apricots)
|Macaroni and cheese
Carrots and broccoli
Yogurt (plain or fruit)
||Broiled, baked or grilled fish
Potatoes and corn
|Turkey burger on whole wheat bun
Sweet potato fries
|Vegetables or beef with pasta
Mixed dark green lettuce salad
Whole wheat bread
|Pork or beef kebobs
Couscous or rice
||Apple with cheese, whole wheat crackers
Bran muffin with milk
|Whole wheat toast with cream cheese and orange segments
Air popped popcorn (for children age five and older )
|Banana and berry smoothie
Whole wheat crackers and cheese with kiwi halves
|Graham crackers and apple sauce
Banana and yogurt
|Whole wheat crackers with nut butter (peanut or almond) or cheese
Cottage cheese and fruit
Stephanie Gladman, RD, MHSc.
Mahsa Esmaeili, RD, MHSc.
Elly Berger, BA, MD, FRCPC, FAAP, MHPE