Easy back-to-school lunches kids can make themselves

We're two weeks into the school year, and many kids are probably eating mostly pre-made lunches. Kent Van Dyk is here to change that.

Culinary arts teacher Kent Van Dyk shares 2 recipes on D is for Dinner

Two meals that Kent Van Dyk says are easy for children to make for their school lunches: couscous with vegetables (left) and cranberry turkey wraps (right). (Kent Van Dyk)

We're only two weeks into the school year, but there are probably kids out there already tired of the meals popping up in their lunchboxes.

Kent Van Dyk is here to help.

Van Dyk is the culinary arts teacher at Longfields-Davidson Heights Secondary School, and he's on a mission: to teach children it's both healthy and fun to prepare their own meals.

This week on All in a Day's D is for Dinner, Van Dyk shares a few lunchroom-friendly recipes, including a cranberry turkey wrap with sage mayonnaise and a couscous and vegetable salad.

Couscous and Vegetable Salad


  • ½ cup and 1 tsp. olive oil.
  • 2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice.
  • zest of half a lemon.
  • 1 cup water (or stock).
  • ½ tsp. salt.
  • ⅔ cup regular or whole wheat couscous.
  • 1½-2 cups mixed vegetables.
  • ½ tsp. ground cumin (optional).
  • 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper (optional if you like heat).
  • ½ tsp. curry powder (optional).


  1. For the vinaigrette, whisk together the ½ cup of olive oil, the lemon juice and the zest in a bowl. Season with salt to taste and set aside.
  2. Put the water, the teaspoon of olive oil and salt (plus whatever additional seasonings you want to add) in a small pot and bring to a boil.  
  3. Stir in the couscous, cover, remove from the heat and let stand for five minutes.
  4. Uncover the couscous and fluff with a fork.  
  5. Add in whatever vegetables you like, raw or cooked (boiled, steamed, roasted, grilled).
  6. Serve warm, room temperature or cold. You may garnish the salad with grated or crumbled cheese, leftover roast chicken, or whatever else you'd like to add.

Cranberry Turkey Wrap


  • 1 boneless, skinless turkey breast (you'll need roughly 4 oz. of sliced turkey per wrap).*
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder.
  • 1 tsp. paprika.
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano.
  • 1 tsp. dried basil.
  • 2 tsp. Kosher salt.
  • ½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper.
  • 2 tsp. canola oil.
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries.
  • ½ -¾ cup sugar (more or less depending on how sweet you like your sauce).
  • zest and juice of 1 navel orange.
  • 1½ cups prepared mayonnaise.
  • 2-3 tsp. ground sage.
  • 4 whole wheat tortillas or 8 slices multigrain bread.
  • 4 slices monterey jack cheese.
  • 4 large leaves of red leaf lettuce.
  • 2 yellow zucchinis (optional).

*You can also use leftover turkey, leftover roast chicken, or oven-roasted turkey breast from the deli section of your local grocery store.


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Combine the garlic powder, paprika, oregano, basil, salt, pepper and oil in a small bowl and rub on the turkey breast.
  3. Place the turkey on a parchment-lined baking sheet and roast in the oven until the internal temperature (tested with a meat thermometer) reaches 160 degrees F — roughly 20 minutes per pound of turkey.
  4. While the turkey is roasting, prepare the cranberry sauce by combining the cranberries, sugar, orange zest and juice in a pot.  
  5. Bring the mixture to the boil over medium-high heat, stirring to make sure it doesn't burn.  
  6. Cook the cranberries for 7 to 10 minutes or until they release the juices and begin to thicken.  Taste for sweetness and adjust if necessary.  
  7. Once finished, remove the cranberry sauce from the stove, let it cool, and store in the fridge inside a plastic container until ready to use.
  8. Combine the mayonnaise and sage in a small bowl and mix until combined. (If using homemade mayonnaise, you can store it in a sealed container in the fridge for up to three days.  Prepared mayonnaise will keep for up to three weeks.)
  9. Cut zucchini on the bias to create slices about ¼-inch thick.
  10. Lightly grill or sautee the slices on each side. You should end up with about 16 to 24 slices.
  11. Once the turkey is cooked through, remove it from the oven and let it cool completely. 
  12. Slice it as thin as possible.
  13. Spread one tablespoon of the sage mayonnaise on each tortilla wrap, or on all eight slices of bread.
  14. Spread one to two teaspoons of the cranberry sauce on each wrap, or on four slices of bread.
  15. Top each sandwich or wrap with three to four ounces of turkey, one slice of cheese, four to six slices of grilled zucchini and one leaf of lettuce.