First, come up with a category for each day of the week. For example:
- Monday - thermos meal made with week-end leftovers: it's easy to turn Sunday dinner into something tasty for the next day's lunch
- Tuesday - sandwich
- Wednesday - salad
- Thursday - meat, poultry or cold cuts
- Friday - fish, dairy, vegetables, combination
Planning and Balance: Some Tips
- Keep in mind that you should include a dairy product with every meal: cold soup, a yogurt sauce, or simply a small carton of milk;
- encourage your children to drink the equivalent of 3 glasses of milk per day; growing kids require the calcium found in dairy products for strong, healthy bones;
- children also need fruit, which can be served as a dessert or be part of the main lunch item;
- a daily source of grains and cereals is important, such as bread, crackers or a granola bar. Rice and couscous are cereals and they can be transformed in delicious salads.
- If your refrigerator is empty, consider simply putting some cereal into the lunch box. Combined with a piece of fruit, it makes a nutritious meal;
- it's easy to cook some extra meat or fish, pasta, rice or other boiled, steamed or roasted ingredients; set aside a portion for tomorrow's lunch box before moving on to step 2 of the recipe;
- always put an ice pack into the lunch box; place the most perishable items on the ice pack or on a very cold container such as a juice box;
- • always cut raw vegetables into bite-sized pieces; they're more attractive and easier to eat;
- lunch boxes aren't only for noon hour: you should also include a recess snack in case your child feels the need for quick energy, especially on sports and physical education days: choose a box of raisins, fruit, cookies, raw vegetables, etc.
Warning - numerous recipes contain peanuts or other nuts. Some schools don't allow these products due to allergy concerns. Simply alter the recipe and replace the nuts with sunflower seeds or raisins, or leave them out.
Vegetables are important, in salads, sandwiches or as a snack on their own. If your lunch menu doesn't include plain raw vegetables, you could simply put in some vegetable juice or a cold soup
Whether it's stew, pot roast or a ground meat dish, it's always easy to make a bigger batch of a dish on the weekend, and then reheat it in the microwave in the morning and place it in a Thermos container. Leftover roast is also very good cold.
Tuesday - Ten weeks of sandwiches
- France - Fill a length of baguette with ham or pâté, sliced Gruyère, lettuce and a little hot mustard
- Italy - Crostini - grill some hearty country bread and mozzarella: top as desired. Suggestions: capers, or fresh tomatoes with basil and garlic. Accompany with an olive-oil dressed salad
- Italy - Turkey and roast pepper Panini is always a welcome replacement for a sandwich
- Lebanon - Pita bread filled with tabbouleh salad and cold chicken (a nutritious choice for exam days!)
- Spain - Andalucia - goat cheese, chrorizo, onion jam
- Quebec - White bread and egg salad (chopped hard-boiled eggs mixed with mayonnaise, a little salt and chives)
- Israel - Bagel with cream cheese and smoked salmon (for a more economical version, combine one or two slices of smoked salmon with a 250 g package of cream cheese and 4 tbsp. milk or cream in a blender: you'll have enough for 4 bagels)
- Mexico - tortillas or tacos with mild salsa, sour cream, ground beef cooked with onion and broken up with a fork, chick peas or kernel corn
- Switzerland - Salmon spirals, Stuffed ciabattas
- Quesadillas with pears and prosciutto
Need inspiration? Check out our "sandwich" listing.
Wednesday - Ten weeks of salads
To add the necessary grain and cereals component, complete the menu with a muffin
- California - Caesar salad with sliced cold chicken
- Thailand - Pineapple boats - combine pineapple chunks and cold cubed chicken with mayonnaise and a touch of curry powder - you can cooked white rice for a more substantial meal.
- Quebec - tuna and potato salad (boiled potatoes, cooled and diced, mayonnaise thinned with a little milk and lemon juice, salt, pepper, green onions, celery, canned tuna and paprika)
- Greece - Greek salad - tomato, cucumber, peppers, olives, feta cheese, with olive oil dressing
- Orange chicken salad - sliced chicken on Boston lettuce, dressed with orange juice, olive oil and honey, sprinkled with walnuts, raisins or other fruit
- Pasta salad - prepare your favourite; add color with diced or julienned green and red peppers, kernel corn, tomato, etc.
- Spinach salad with hard-boiled egg, orange sections and walnuts; drizzle with an oil, wine vinegar and honey dressing
- Spain - Tenerife salad: prawns (use small northern shrimp for a more economical version), bananas, walnuts, and frisée lettuce dressed with mayonnaise or yogurt thinned with the juice of an orange.
- Morocco - Grated carrot salad with orange
- South Africa - Potato salad
Want more ideas? See the recipes under our "salads" heading
Thursday - Ten weeks of meats and cold cuts
- Italy - salad topped with alternating slices of ham and cantaloupe, with Italian bread or rusks on the side
- Iran - kabobs - these beef skewers are excellent cold, served with plain yogurt seasoned with a little mint or basil
- Japan - Yakitori - (chicken skewers served cold on rice or bean sprouts, accompanied by a soya sauce-based dip)
- Quebec - roast pork (left over from the night before) with apple sauce or potato salad
- Cold sliced meat loaf with tomato preserves
- United States - Sliced cold turkey with ambrosia salad (a combination of fruit, marshmallows and flaked coconut)
- France - Friands (sausage meat in puff pastry)
- Germany - German sausages (knackwurst style) with sauerkraut or cabbage salad
- Meatballs with olives and walnuts
Friday - Ten weeks of dairy, vegetables, combinations
- Spain - Russian salad tapas served with crackers
- Middle East - Hummus (a dip of puréed chick peas, garlic, lemon juice and sesame paste), served with pita bread and raw vegetables
- France - Ratatouille (a Provençal vegetable stew made with eggplant, zucchini, peppers, tomato, onion, etc.) - can be served hot or cold accompanied by baguette slices
- Japan - Maki - Maki is rolled sushi. It may include several ingredients in the centre: raw fish, fish roe, omelette or vegetables: replace the raw fish with canned tuna, cooked beaten egg, etc.; leave out the Japanese horseradish and add a few drops of barbecue sauce or ketchup; serve with soya sauce diluted with a little water and a pinch of sugar
- Switzerland - Quiche fribourg style, or like in France, Quiche loraine or Leek quiche.
- Greece - sliced sausage, feta cheese, tomatoes, olives, served with pita bread or a hearty rustic bread
- Sticks of cheddar cheese, apples and raw vegetables with different dips, served with crackers or a puffed rice cake
- Provence - "Petits farcis" - these are vegetables stuffed with a mixture of braised meat, parmesan cheese, onion and garlic, bound with eggs and bread crumbs and baked. They can be prepared for an evening meal and the leftovers served cold for the next day's lunch.
- Italy - bruschetta: chopped fresh tomatoes, seasoned with a little olive oil, garlic and basil; serve with toasted baguette rounds
Welcome back to school!
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