​​​​Image of Healthy lunches
Healthy lunches can be fun and easy. (Photo: Flickr Melissa)

For most of us, 'back to school' means back to busy schedules that include driving kids to activities and social events, helping with homework and more. The hustle and bustle of moving into the fall means less time for planning and cooking healthy meals.  Registered Dietitian Christy Brissette of the ELLICSR Kitchen is here to help! 

As we transition from summer fun to hectic fall routines, adults and kids alike need the right fuel to stay alert all day. Whether you're getting school supplies or setting up your dorm room, make healthy eating a priority and put together weekly meal plans and shopping lists.

Here are some ideas to make breakfast, lunch and snacks healthier, faster and more fun!

Watch this video for ideas on what to add to your smoothie based on your goals. (Video: ELLICSR Kitchen)


Are mornings too hectic to sit down to breakfast? Breakfast has been shown to help kids and adults concentrate and perform better at school and work, so it's important to fit it into your morning any way you can.


Give smoothies a try - you can drink them quickly at home or while you commute in a travel mug.

Kids and adults can create their own breakfast smoothies in three simple steps:

  1. Start with a liquid base

    Choose one cup of a liquid such as milk, almond milk, soymilk or 100 per cent juice (no sugar added).

  2. Add fruit and even vegetables

    Add ½ cup of frozen banana, berries, peaches and a handful of spinach or kale leaves for a healthy dose of vitamins, minerals and fibre.

  3. Power up with protein

    Add two tablespoons or more of nut butter, such as peanut butter or almond butter; Greek yogurt; hemp seeds or chia seeds; pasteurized egg whites, and/or a protein powder made from whey, casein or a vegan version.

Try this recipe for Curry Chicken Salad Wraps. (Video: ELLICSR Kitchen)


Studies have shown that children who eat healthy, balanced lunches are more alert throughout the day and are able to perform better at school. Eating a balanced lunch also improves children's concentration in afternoon subjects and reduces their chances of overeating and making unhealthy choices for their after-school snack. 

These findings also apply to adults – eat a healthy, balanced lunch and pack nutritious snacks to avoid the dreaded 3 p.m. energy slump. That's when cravings for less healthy convenience foods tend to kick in.

Design-your-own sandwich shops and salad bars are increasingly popular, so why not create the experience at home?

Every Sunday, get healthy food ready for the week by doing the following:

  • Chop up a variety of vegetables, such as bell peppers, cucumbers, carrots, celery and more
  • Buy some triple-washed lettuces such as mixed greens, spinach and romaine
  • Make egg, tuna and salmon salads with Greek yogurt instead of mayo
  • Save some roasted chicken from Sunday dinner as a filling for sandwiches or to add protein to salads. This is a time-saver for parents and a cost-effective strategy for students in university or college.
  • Get a variety of wholegrain bread options such as pitas, wraps and naan
  • Make up a batch of quinoa or whole wheat couscous in minutes as a base for delicious salads.
  • Open some canned beans and rinse well to have chickpeas, black beans and lentils ready to add to salads or make hummus as another sandwich topping or dip.

When you have all of this prepared, putting together a lunch the night before can be a family affair that everyone can have fun with.

Check out this recipe for Quinoa Maple Brittle for a tasty snack. Note: If you are sending this to school with your kids, replace the nuts with seeds of your choice. (Video: ELLICSR Kitchen)

​Smart Snacking

Round out your lunch bag with some healthy snack options.

Let kids choose from a variety of snacks such as:

  • Fresh fruit
  • Vegetable sticks with yogurt or hummus dip
  • Yogurt cups
  • Apple chips
  • Roasted edamame or chickpeas
  • Wholegrain crackers
  • Cheese sticks
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Nuts (For home only. Schools are nut-free).

And don't forget to pack healthy snacks for yourself. Having a healthy snack with fibre and protein can help you stay satisfied, focused and energized throughout the afternoon so you're less likely to grab a latte and a pastry to get through the day.

For more healthy meal ideas, check out the ELLICSR Kitchen's program webpage.​

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