Sunday, September 13, 2015

Packed Lunch Series: Yummy Lunch Club to the Rescue...

Gone are the days of going home for lunch from school as most families have both parents working out of the house or there's just no decent amount of time to do it (the lunch period seems drastically crunched nowadays). As an elementary kid, I fondly remember mom picking us up regularly for the short trek home to a home-cooked meal. In fact, my siblings and I don't recall anyone who stuck around with a brown bag lunch-- it seemed that everyone had a parent waiting in the school yard at noon. And then came middle school and I had the most DREADED packed lunch-- but that's a whole other story which you'll find out in my subsequent post.

It's a daily challenge: who doesn't scramble to find inspiration, variety and extra time in the morning to keep their children interested in their daily lunch box, and not have them bring it home half-eaten? Then there's the nutrition bit-- the four food groups to consider and sustainability-- will what you packed provide enough energy to sustain your children over hours of work and play? Well ponder no more... I am super excited to introduce you to a newly launched lunch site Yummy Lunch Club that aims to equip everything you need to know to plan and pack healthy lunches that your kids will actually eat. Watch in the next few weeks for seasonal lunch ideas and easy recipes for kids. Started by registered dietitian Carol Harrison, she passionately believes that if you get your kids involved in the process (let them get behind the driver's seat and be in control of what goes in it), they are more likely to eat and enjoy it.  Some of the great resources you can expect here are:

As a mom with three kids, Carol knows how easy it can be for the pressures of life to take over and fall short of eating food that nourishes and nurtures us to lead healthy and happy lives. She also knows how to turn that around with small changes over time that really can make a difference. With 20 years of experience as a registered dietitian, she worked mainly in a national nutrition-marketing/education role developing strategies, campaigns, resources and more. She started Yummy Lunch Club, a blog and campaign to help make packing healthier lunches easier while encouraging kids to build food skills along the way. 

Carol is also a fellow Food Revolution Toronto ambassador furthering the cause of eating real food and food education. It was her volunteer work with Food Revolution that inspired her to start this. "I wanted to find a concrete way I could champion food skills and I landed on the idea of getting kids involved in planning and packing their school lunches. I hope the monthly contests and soon-to-come kids recipes will help. This is early days for me so I'm keen to hear from folks how I can help. I'm working on series of seasonal lunch ideas right now and excited to share more content in the coming months!"

Carol Harrison, RD lives in Toronto

I love this Yummy Lunch Club recipe. This is a fantastic salad using leftovers from dinner the night before or bits in the fridge. Carol tells us how Cobb salad came to be and advises parents to make it fun-- tell the story about Mr. Cobb to your kids and ask them to create their own version of a salad named after themselves (of course!) with any combination of cheese, vegetables, protein, and plenty of greens. Sounds like a fun and inventive activity my kids would enjoy and be proud to make and take to school!

(Mr.) Cobb School Lunch Salad

There will be monthly contests at Yummy Lunch Club. The most current is a contest held until October 30th-- Help Plan OR Pack Your Lunch for a chance to win a signed copy of Starting from Scratch (value $15.00) courtesy of Owlkids. See here for more details. 

Here are two fabulous resources developed to help your families get started with planning lunches and getting the kids involved:

Lunch can evoke powerful feelings of childhood. As adults, we talk about tackling the dinner dilemma and the powers of wonderful dinners (my hand way up in the air, "me, me!")-- we discuss them, plan them, labour over them. But it is lunch that has this grasp on children-- those toting a lunchbox to school. It is when they are entrusted outside of their parents presence, free of their glares and lectures of not eating their vegetables or everything on their plate; this is the time they break bread with their schoolmates, and enjoy a piece of love from home as they plough through the long day. Hopefully,with fond thoughts as a time to look forward to rather than grimace or hum and haw... If you let them take some of that control (whether it be making it with you or choosing from a list of healthy options) we can assure you lunch will have a whole new meaning -- one they can feel good about to show off to their teacher and friends.

I have not touched upon this subject of packed lunch... my three children get a healthy lunch catered at their schools (sorry... don't hate me), however, I had the daily experience of packing their lunch during summer camp months, and I know very well, it's not easy to break out of the basic sandwich rut. For September, I decided to pack the twins' lunches and start their in-school meals the next month. A personal mission to challenge myself beyond the lack-lustre basic brown bag favourite and learn somethings along the way that can help me in future called-for-lunches and for many of you going through this now. Next week I will do a lunch series-- sharing recipes coupled with tips and advice that I have used with my children. Carol Harrison's Yummy Lunch Club will be a permanent fixture on my blog-- there's a YLC banner for an easy click through to her site when you're browsing on mine for dinner ideas. I am looking forward to this partnership and to fill the lunch gap on my blog and in my own repertoire! 

Stay tuned for my next post-- Challenge #1: Sandwich Break-through. Let's be real, we'll never completely rid ourselves from the lunch grandfather nor do we want to. It's how to find inspiration to transform the tired old sandwich by breaking away from Wonder Bread and sliced deli meats.


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