Lunchbox tip #2: Involve your child in packing their lunch

Written by Jolene Hrynyk, a volunteer at Calgary Family Nutrition. For more information, you can see her bio here

The day I made one too many complaints about my sandwiches was the day my mom made me start packing my own lunch. Don’t let it get that far with your kids. Involve them as early as possible whether that’s asking them what kind of fruit they would like in their lunches when you are planning or getting them to pack it themselves with some supervision. They can help you pack it at a much younger age than you might think and may be interested in the activity as it relates to them specifically unlike setting the table.

Here is another example of a lunch following the principles I wrote about earlier in the week:

  1. Main
  2. Fruit
  3. Vegetable



Main: Quinoa for carbohydrate with some edamame and hummus for protein, and dressing for fat

Fruit: Sliced apples sprinkled in lemon to prevent browning

Vegetable: Bell peppers and cherry tomatoes in the salad


Do any of you remember when you started packing your lunch?


Lunchbox tip #1: Encourage your child to bring home what they don’t eat.

Written by Jolene Hrynyk, a volunteer at Calgary Family Nutrition. For more information, you can see her bio here

This isn’t to grill them on why they didn’t eat the carrots you so lovingly cut up for them! Instead, look for patterns in what they are and aren’t eating.

Consider that taste isn’t the only thing that influences what your child chooses to eat at lunch. The rush to get to outside play, not wanting sticky fingers, feeling self-conscious of what was packed or eating in front of others are all potential reasons a child may not eat a part of their lunch beyond simply not being hungry.  You can have a gentle conversation with them about what items they don’t eat after you see a pattern. If there are no patterns and they tell you they just aren’t hungry sometimes that is ok. Allow them to honour their hunger and fullness cues. Have a snack ready (or pack one) for after school when they could be hungry again. 

Here is another example of a lunch following the principles I wrote about earlier this week:

1. Main

2. Fruit

3. Vegetable



Main: Baked egg muffins packed with veggies similar to the recipe here for protein and fat with some lentil crackers for carbohydrate,

Fruit: Pitted cherries

Vegetable: The egg muffins are packed with veggies



What always comes back home from lunches in your house? 


Lunch boxes 101

Written by Jolene Hrynyk, a volunteer at Calgary Family Nutrition. For more information, you can see her bio here

It’s that time of year again. The point at which you I’ve memorized every back to school commercial word-for-word, and am actually ready to go supply shopping. Back to school also means back to packing school lunches which is why I am is excited to share this lunch-packing basics post with you. In the world of perfectly photographed bento box lunches, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed as a busy parent on what to provide for lunch. It doesn’t have to be that hard. My method is so easy your child could (and maybe should!) do it themselves. 

What to pack

  1. A main with carbohydrates, protein and fat ( Usually a whole-grain and a meat or meat alternative)
  2. A fruit
  3. A vegetable

Let’s break it down further.

A main with carbohydrates, protein and fat

Many of the things you’re already packing probably already fill these criteria. A PB and J sandwich? The bread has carbohydrates and the peanut butter has some protein and fat. While a sandwich is the most traditional choice, this can also be a variety of other things. I worked at a summer camp and saw kids bring all sorts of things I had never even thought of (a few of which are featured in the photos below), so be open and try new things!

Some sandwich alternatives include; crackers and hummus, a muffin and hard boiled egg, pancakes and greek yogurt, leftovers, a wrap rolled up with nut/seed butter and fruit.


Main: Leftover cheese and spinach Quesadillas with the tortilla for carbohydrate, Cheese and Tzatziki for protein and fat

Fruit: A Clementine

Vegetable: Sliced Peppers





Generally, kids, especially young ones want things that are both quick and easy to eat. That means most whole pieces of fruit aren’t going to get eaten. I would love to know how many apples get thrown out every year in lunchrooms across the country. Keeping it bite sized is a good rule of thumb!

Great options; Berries, apples sprinkled with lemon to prevent browning, easy-peel oranges, grapes.



Main: Granola for carbohydrates, greek yogurt and hemp hearts for protein and fat

Fruit: Frozen berries (they thaw in time for lunch!)

Vegetable: Sliced peppers





As with fruit, easy to eat options generally go over the best. Lunch is not the best time to try out foods your child has an aversion to. Save broccoli for dinner when you’re there to role model for them. If your child won’t eat any vegetable without dip that’s okay, invest in some small containers or mini squeeze bottles like the one pictured below.



Main: Banana oat muffins for carbohydrate with cheese and a hard boiled egg for some fat and protein

Fruit: A nectarine

Vegetable: Cherry tomatoes




I’ll be sharing some bonus tips as the week goes on that I use to make sure healthy lunches happen! Are you excited to get back into the school routine or dreading the end of the summer?

If you need help with making lunches for your family and taking the struggles out of “I only want bearpaw’s and goldfish crackers!”, book an appointment with one of our Registered Dietitians here

Future Registered Dietitians!

We are all starting out at one point. My passion is helping people to live their best life in health which in my mind includes career development and mentoring.

Becoming a Registered Dietitian is hard work, you need a four year degree at an accredited University,  a one-year internship (which is very competitive to get into and is usually unpaid) and then a board exam to credential you as a Registered Dietitian (RD).

I am so happy to help future Registered Dietitians in their journey and grateful to have volunteers working with me to bring you information about relevant nutrition topics. In the next few months, I will be featuring some of the work they have created under my guidance. I think you will agree that they are on their way to a successful career in nutrition!

Here is an introduction to my 2018 volunteers:


Hello! My name is Jolene Hrynyk and I am a Fourth year Nutrition student at the University of Alberta, on my way to become a Registered Dietitian. My passion is making a healthy lifestyle attainable and easy for everyone, and I believe the joy of food should outweigh the stress. My interest areas are pediatric and family nutrition, as well as autoimmune conditions such as crohn’s and rheumatoid arthritis. Most weeknights find me playing an evil mastermind in the kitchen and a good weekend for me is sharing food and wine with friends and family. I look forward to sharing what I know and learning lots along the way!

Head shot LarissaHello! My name is Larissa Stanley and I am a Dietetic Intern at the University of Alberta. After I complete my internship in July 2019, I will be able to officially call myself a Registered Dietitian! I hope to pursue a career in Public Health where I will be able to promote healthy lifestyles and eating. My spare time involves me using my family and friends as guinea pigs for all the food I experiment making in the kitchen! Otherwise, I can be found on the Glenmore Reservoir paddling on my dragon boat team, during the few months of summer Calgary gives us, or doing Crossfit at the gym. I am excited to share my knowledge with you all!

RubyHello! My name is Ruby Yang and I aspire to be a Registered Dietitian one day! I am currently working to complete my dietetic internship through the University of Alberta. Through my learnings and experiences, I hope to use my knowledge in nutrition to help transform the wellbeing of others while also advocating for strategies that will ensure food security for all. I believe that food can be the solution to many health problems and I wish to empower others to take control over their health through nutrition.  In my spare time you will probably find me exploring what nature has to offer, but on rainy days, I’ll be embracing my love for coffee with some good company.


Zucchini muffins for back to school

This is a great recipe for the end of summer to use up all the garden zucchini in the house. These muffins freeze well and the kids love the mini chocolate chips! Pair these with cheese or a hard boiled egg, add a fruit or vegetable and you have a lunch. These are also a great snack to have on your way to after school activities.

Zucchini Chocolate Chip Muffins

These are packed with zucchini for a great lunch muffin or perfect for snacks.  

This recipe was adapted from

Keyword Healthy Muffin, Snack for kids, Zucchini Muffin
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 12 muffins


  • 2 cups Shredded zucchini
  • 1/2 cup Mashed ripe banana
  • 1/4 cup Canola or Safflower Oil
  • 1/4 cup Honey
  • 1/4 cup Brown sugar
  • 1 tsp Vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup Applesauce
  • 2 large Eggs
  • 1 tsp Ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp Baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp Baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 2 cups Whole wheat flour
  • 1/3 cup Mini semi-sweet chocolate chips


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease or line a 12 cup muffin tin. 

  2. In a bowl, combine banana, honey, brown sugar, oil, vanilla extract and applesauce. Add eggs and mix until combined. 
  3. Add cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder and salt, mix to combine. 
  4. Add flour and mix gently until flour is mixed in.
  5. Fold in zucchini and chocolate chips. 
  6. Scoop batter into muffin tin, filling them all evenly. Bake for 20-25 minutes.
  7. Take out of the oven and put on a cooling rack. Store muffins at room temperature or freeze individually.