Hot lunches — in many schools at least — are now off the table.
As school districts try to prevent the spread of COVID-19, many have opted to make microwaves off-limits to students.
Ontario's provincial government expects all schools to do just that, as well as "remove all self-serving food items."
Alberta's provincial directions do not go that far — its guidelines suggest microwaves be cleaned and disinfected more frequently — but some districts in the province, including Edmonton Catholic Schools, are removing the machines anyway. Saskatoon Public Schools has made the same call.
Sandwiches have always been a school lunch staple, but they are not the only option.
Doreen Prei, a chef and weekly food columnist for CBC Edmonton's Radio Active, shared her suggestions for simple meals that don't need to be warmed up.
Sushi might not seem like the easiest option, considering raw fish is usually involved, but some types of sushi rolls are fairly simple to make at home.
Prei suggests buying nori (edible seaweed), making sushi rice the night before and getting kids involved in shaping the rolls.
Classic ingredients like cucumber and avocado work, she said. More options for fillings include pickled vegetables and canned tuna (or crab) combined with mayonnaise and Sriracha sauce.
"If you put this in an insulated lunch box, this will hold for three hours, no problem," Prei said.
"I would love to find that in the lunchbox if I were a kid."
Don't forget to throw in ginger, soy sauce and a little wasabi, depending on kids' taste and spice tolerance.
Prei grew up eating hard-boiled eggs on rye bread, but there are plenty of other ways to turn eggs into protein-packed lunches that taste good at room temperature.
Quiches and frittatas also work well for Celiacs, she said. As for flavour combinations, she recommends bacon and cheddar or roasted chicken and sundried tomato.
To make the egg dish, whip up some eggs with a little bit of milk or cream, season with some fresh herbs, pour it all in a casserole dish and then bake in the oven.
The meal will last for four days in the fridge.
"It's really nice and simple to do," Prei said.
Prei's son helped her come up with this idea.
Find a Thermos (or similar product) suitable for children — there are many on the market — and fill it with hot soup at breakfast-time.
Many containers can keep soup warm for five hours, so the mixture should stay warm until lunchtime.
Kid-friendly soups include butternut squash, curried sweet potato, and tomato soup. Prei makes the latter with plenty of parmesan cheese and either croutons or baguette on the side.
Home cooks can also make use of leftover vegetables (roasted or barbecued) in soups.
"You can hide a ton of different vegetables in there too," she said.