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No Child Wants a Lunch that Smells Weird

September 1, 2011 by Joanna Drake, Registered Dietitian

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There are some childhood memories that last a lifetime. One of my more traumatic ones took place during lunch at elementary school.

My mother, who could win awards for parenting effort, sent me a hot dog for lunch. I had told her I was bored with sandwiches. The bun was cut and ketchup, mustard and relish lined it in perfect proportions. All I needed to do was remove the wiener from my Thermos® and put it in the bun.

As I opened my Thermos®, the smell of warm wiener air rushed at me. I reached in with a pincer-like grip trying to grab the wiener. (Even with little fingers, this wasn't easy.) And that's when it happened: John P. said at the top of his lungs "Whose lunch smells like a turd?" I knew it was mine, so I put the lid back on my Thermos®, ate my empty bun, and ran outside to the playground as soon as we were allowed to go. When I got home that afternoon I told my mom that I was N-E-V-E-R taking a hot dog for lunch E-V-E-R again.

What can we send our kids for lunch? We want to send something healthy; they want something that tastes good (and doesn't smell weird). Here are some ideas to get you started:

Mini Pizzas:

  • Use whole wheat pitas or English muffins
  • Load them with cooked chicken breast (cut into bite size pieces) or ground beef, tofu cubes, lots of veggies*, and low fat mozzarella
  • *vegetables with a high water content should be pre-cooked before putting on pizza: e.g. tomatoes, mushrooms, zucchini

Wraps with a twist:

  • Use small (6-inch) tortilla shells
  • Try all sorts of fillings including: tuna or egg salad, hummus, shredded carrot, lettuce, tomato and avocado slices

Home-made chilli:

  • Nice to change it up with a hot lunch
  • Use a wide-mouth Thermos®. Serve it with a whole grain bun or crackers

The following Dietitians of Canada resources have additional ideas and tips for packing safe and wholesome lunches:

  1. How can I make brown bag lunches quickly that everyone will like?
  2. What are some fast and easy brown bag lunch ideas for my school aged children?

What's in your kid's lunch?

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