Healthy meals for back-to-school

Vegetables and fruits with a sandwich in 3 boxes

Lindiwe Sibanda

Consuming a range of wholesome foods from each of the five food groups is the key to good nutrition. Eating foods from each of the following dietary groups will help your body get all the vitamins and nutrients it needs to function.

Dairy or a dairy substitute: These foods are great providers of calcium, which is necessary for strong, healthy bones.

Fruit: Fruits are an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, dietary fibre, and phytonutrients, which support the wellness of growing bodies.

Foods made from grains (cereals): Always go for wholegrain and/or high-fiber kinds of bread, cereals, rice, pasta, noodles, etc. Cakes and biscuits are examples of refined grain items that can include a lot of added sugar, fat, and sodium.

Lean meats and chicken, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts, seeds, and legumes/beans: Healthy bodies require the protein in these foods to create specialized molecules like hemoglobin and adrenalin. Additionally, protein helps to maintain and repair the tissues in the body

Vegetables and legumes/beans: Vegetables should be promoted at every meal and should make up a significant portion of your daily calorie consumption (including snack times). They offer vitamins, minerals, dietary fibre, and phytonutrients—nutrients that are found naturally in plants—that your body needs to stay healthy.

Children spend the majority of their waking hours in school. It’s crucial to choose healthy foods while at school because snacks and lunches at school give kids the energy they require throughout the day. As students return to school in person or do virtual learning from home, schools may be using a variety of methods to ensure students have access to nutritious meals.  

Make sure the fridge and pantry are stocked with healthy options like fresh fruit, veggies, hummus, whole grain crackers, sandwich/wrap ingredients. Otherwise, left to their own devices teens will pack chips, cookies, and 5 packs of string cheese!   

Remember that there are lots of healthy options. Your food choices can reflect:  

  • taste  
  • culture  
  • budget  

Healthy school lunch ideas                                                                                                                               

 1. Greek Yogurt, granola, peppers, baby tomatoes, grapes, mini muffin  

  1. Ham & cheese mini bagel, banana, a cup of Greek yogurt, sugar snap peas 
  2. Peanut butter & Banana tortilla roll-ups, unsweetened applesauce pouch, celery sticks         4. Broccoli with ranch, apple slices 

5. Hummus & Veggie Wraps, dried fruit, crackers, hard-boiled eggs  

6. Tex-Mex Chopped Veggie Taco Dip, tortilla chips, orange slices, frozen Greek yogurt tube  

Veggies and dip, cheese stick, banana mini muffin, trail mix  

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