The Zen lunch box: what do we put in it?


Spring break is almost over, so back to school next week and to the return of the famous lunch box! 

Zen lunch box

For less headaches and to get out of the routine, here are our tips and tricks to eat balanced, diversified and gourmet!

A 4 course menu in the lunch box

A day at school or day care is definitely not a rest! We run, we play, we concentrate, we learn ... We need fuel to do all that! But not just anything: we also want our children to have a diversified and balanced diet, rich in fruits and vegetables, to stay healthy.

Our 2 golden rules:

For the lunch, it’s as if we’re eating at the restaurant and we give way to fruits and vegetables. No food to banish - except nuts and peanuts to avoid the risks of allergy. The most important thing is to strive for diversity!

Concretely, here is what it gives:

Service # 1: One appetizer

What do we put in? Vegetables, vegetables, vegetables! And if you want to include dairy products in the lunch, cheese cubes (cheddar, feta, mozzarella, mini-bocconcini ...) or a yogurt dip are added.

vegetables for zen lunchbox

Some ideas:

        1. To munch on – and therefore not necessarily cold :-):Carrot, celery, sweet
         peppers, cucumber, zucchini sticks ...

  • Mini vegetables skewers: cherry tomatoes, cucumber
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Kale chips
  • Asparagus
  • Gazpacho

    2. Acting as if at the restaurant:

  • Grated carrots
  • Tomato salad
  • Asian kale salad
  • Green beans and tomato salad
  • Green salad, tomato and avocado

Service # 2: a main course

What are we putting in? Hot meal, salad meal or sandwich.

Admit that the sandwich is not the ideal option to have be content enough with vegetables! By alternating hot dishes with meal salads and sandwiches, monotony is avoided and the variety of foods available is easily increased. And then, hot meals and salad meals are genuine blessings to use the leftovers from previous meals and get the right serving of vegetables!

For hot dishes, choose meals with sauce: tomato sauce, curry, stew, Asian sauce, creamy gratin ... They are easier to warm in the microwave without fear of drying out and will stay hot longer when poured into the Thermos if the school does not have microwaves. Use 15% fat cream, ricotta or evaporated milk to keep your sauces light.

When you put pasta on the menu, opt for short macaroni or spaghetti, much easier to pour into the Thermos.

pizza for zen lunchbox

Some ideas:

         1. To munch on – and therefore not necessarily cold :-):

Service # 3: a dairy product

What are we putting in? A jar of yogurt, a piece of cheese, a brick of milk.

Choose plain yogurts to which you may add a little honey, maple syrup or powdered sugar, a spoon of jam or compote, rather than the flavoured yogurts with fruits that are very sweet.

Service # 4: a dessert

What are we putting in? Fruits ... but fruits ready to eat! Remember how hard it is to crunch on an apple when a tooth was given to the Tooth Fairy, how it is tedious to peel a clementine or unpleasant to have peach juice smeared on the face? Fresh fruits that have already been peeled, cut into pieces or sliced, are then served on toothpicks to make mini-kebabs.

You can also choose compotes – home or commercial, without added sugar in jar or to drink – canned fruits with syrup, frozen fruits or smoothies.

Dairy & fruits for zen lunchbox

And what about drinks?

Water, water, water! Dr. Yoni Freedhoff, an expert physician in obesity and a professor at the University of Ottawa, has his own definition of fruit juice that should be clear: "Juice is liquid candy enriched with a few vitamins, nothing more*". 

And snacks?

Some schools or daycares schedule a snack in the morning. Then opt for vegetables: your little foodie will be more likely to be hungry again when it’s time for lunch.

As for the afternoon snack, bet on fruits, fresh, stewed or in smoothie, depending on the composition of the meal of the day. And add a cookie, a small cake or a homemade or commercial bar – select the less fatty and less sweet – to give enough energy until the evening meal. 

* The juice is not a fruit, April 14, 2014, La Presse +


By Karine Pezé - 1, 2, cuisine!


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