3 tips for great school lunches in winter

Parent making school lunches for kids

If you’re a parent whose children have recently returned to in-school learning, that means you’re back to making school lunches every day. (Every. Single. Day!) Even if you’ve been making bagged lunches for years, it’s easy to run out of ideas — and lunch-making can feel like even more of a chore in winter, when you’re busy packing snow pants, mittens, scarves, extra clothing and more. Plus, a lot of parents feel seriously off routine with so much missed school over the past year! How do you even make a school lunch, anyway? Are these kids even mine?! (Yes, they are, and you’ve got to feed them.)

VG Meats is here to make your life easier (and more delicious). Here are some quick and easy ideas for healthy, convenient school lunches your kids will enjoy.

Think warm and cozy

A snow-filled outdoor recess is amazing, but it can leave kids feeling pretty chilly by lunchtime. Consider sending a thermos of warm chicken noodle soup, beef and vegetable stew or mild chili (if you use VG’s store-made chili, you won’t even have to make it). You can also send warmed up chicken or steak that has been cut up into bite-sized pieces (add a small container or dipping sauce if they like to eat that way). Meatballs are another great thermos lunch — if you make a large batch and freeze them, you can thaw a few out overnight and simply heat in the morning before adding to the thermos. Add some fruit and vegetables, yogurt or a granola bar on the side, and you’re all set!

Make use of those leftovers

Leftovers are the best. You enjoy them once, and then you get a second (or third!) meal out of them. Pasta is an especially great leftover lunch for school — spaghetti with meat sauce, penne with chicken or sausage, whatever your family enjoys. Just heat it up, stick it in a thermos and send them on their way! Some classrooms may even have a microwave, allowing you to send cold food in a glass container for easy reheating.

If your kids aren’t into a hot lunch, you can still use leftovers to keep things easy. Consider turning leftover ham or chicken into a sandwich with sliced cheese, or a wrap with lettuce and ranch or Caesar dressing. Leftover steak can be sliced and turned into a fajita with bell peppers. And if your kids will eat salad, add some chopped up chicken or steak to romaine lettuce with cucumbers and some croutons! These lunches can all be made in under 10 minutes.

Pack some snacks

Some kids simply do not want a big sandwich or a thermos full of soup. This is especially true of younger kids who may do better with a “grazing” approach. Try packing a variety of foods in a bento-style container that allows everything you packed to be accessed at once. A Planetbox or Yumbox is great, but a basic Tupperware with divided sections is an excellent alternative (just use reusable silicone muffin cups to separate each food item). Pieces of chicken or steak with dipping sauce, rolled up deli meats and cubed cheese, sliced cucumbers, fresh fruit, raisins, crackers, and pickles all make great bento options. And don’t forget about Little VGs! You know what your kids like, so personalize it to their tastes and watch the empty containers come home. Nice work, Mom and Dad!

To shop for your favourite local meats, please visit VGfarmtocity.ca or check out our retail locations in Simcoe and Stoney Creek.