Best Healthy Lunch Ideas For School

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Looking for best healthy lunch ideas for school? As a busy parent with two kids in school, I have been looking for ways to make our lunches healthier. You would not believe what they pack in those little school lunch boxes.

How to pack healthy lunch ideas for school recipes? Every parent’s nightmare is sending their child off to school with a lunch box full of junk food.

Best Healthy Lunch Ideas For School

School Lunch Ideas: 40 Healthy Kid Lunches to Keep You Inspired

Nothing says “back to school” like packing endless (and often dreaded) school lunches. If you’re anything like me, you start out with good intentions and then run out of ideas two weeks into the school year. While you can certainly use some of these kitchen hacks to make things easier, it doesn’t help if you have a case of “lunch packer block” (that is, you can’t stop packing the same things lunch after lunch after lunch.) That’s why I wanted to create this healthy school lunch ideas post: to keep you inspired when the going gets rough.

Finding JOY in packing school lunches

Truth be told, packing school lunches can be bothersome, boring and relentless. If your kids go away to school each day, it can be even more dissatisfying since you don’t get to actually see them oohing and ahhing over your amazing culinary skills. But, what if we flipped the whole thing on its head?

What if coming up with school lunch ideas became not only tolerable but JOYFUL?

After all, we have the opportunity to fill our kids’ bellies with nourishing, delicious and even inspiring food day after day after day. We also get to “love” on our kids in this very simple and yet important way. That’s how I’m choosing to approach school lunches this year. (We’ll see how long that lasts ?.)

Tips for making school lunches easier

Since we have to make at least 200 lunches for our kids (and this includes homeschoolers too!), we might as well make it easier on ourselves… amiright?

Here are some simple things you can try:

  • Involve your kids. Depending on your child’s age, have them cut up veggies, grab an apple out of the fridge, pack crackers, you get the idea. By having your kid help, you are teaching them to navigate the kitchen as well as boosting confidence and knowledge. You can also take the opportunity to teach them about healthy foods and macronutrient balance with each lunch! (If your kids don’t know how to prep food, consider enrolling in the Kids Cook Real Food course.) Also, let your kids come up with school lunch ideas, too!
  • Cook in bulk. Consider making extra for dinner each night and pack leftovers for lunch. Or, make big batches of healthy gummy men, muffins, waffles, pasta, and rice & beans and store in freezer. Take out what you want to pack the night before to defrost and throw it into your kid’s lunch the next day.
  • Use “convenience” foods. I’m not talking processed or fast foods but rather easy and very “packable” real foods like cherry/grape tomatoes, pitted olives, defrosted frozen peas/lima beans/corn, organic berries, clementines, organic grapes, string cheese, hard boiled eggs, organic jerky sticks, drinkable yogurt, healthy snacks like olive oil popcorn, seed crackers, or sprouted nuts & seeds
  • Freeze a few “emergency” meals. For those occasions when you have a late night and have to scramble for a lunch the next day, consider freezing a few lunches that you can grab and go. Some school lunch ideas include: bean burritos, almond & honey sandwich, turkey roll ups, etc. Add a piece of fruit and a drink, and you’ve got yourself a balanced meal for your child.

Getting the right lunch gear

While there are literally dozens of portable food gear products out there, you want to find lunch supplies that are:

  • made with non-toxic materials like stainless steel
  • dishwasher safe (ain’t nobody got time for hand-washing!)
  • leak-proof (or mostly leak-proof)
  • easy to pack
  • durable and not breakable
  • keep foods heat/cold as appropriate

My Favorite Lunch Box System

After much research, I decided to go with PlanetBox. Here is the gear I own:

  • Their ROVER PlanetBox, lunch bag, and big/small container set (where to buy)
  • Non-toxic ice packs (where to buy)
  • Non-leaking water bottle (where to buy)
  • Reusable, cloth napkin (where to buy)

While the price tag of their products was steeper than I wanted, I do have to say that I’m very pleased with their products. I used exclusively last year and continue to use this year as well. (You can see their products below.)

My Favorite Water Bottles

For water bottles, I really like these from Thermos (where to buy). I also use these Thermos containers for when I’m packing warm/hot foods, which is much less common. (where to buy)

My Favorite Snack Bags

Because my kids also need a daily snack packed for school, I like to use LunchSkins bags. They work just like ziplocks but are reusable! Their reusable snack bags are lead-free, BPA-free, PVC-free, phthalate-free, and moisture-resistant to keep your food fresher longer.

School lunch ideas video

School lunch idea photos…Mama Natural kids school lunch ideas 01

Veggies with hummus, grapes, nuts and banana muffin with a pat of butter.
Mama Natural kids school lunch ideas 02

Cheese stick, chick peas and wild rice, peppers, nuts, and dip.
Mama Natural kids school lunch ideas 09

Hot lunch! Leftover pasta with meat sauce, a salad and apple.
Mama Natural kids school lunch ideas 06

Sharp cheddar, black rice crackers, pistachios, tomatoes, and berry medley.

Turkey wrap with pomegranate salad
Turkey wrap with pomegranate salad.

Veggie patties, grilled zucchini, fruit with coconut
Veggie patties, grilled zucchini, fruit with coconut.

Chicken nuggets, chocolate strawberries with veggies
Chicken nuggets, chocolate strawberries with veggies.

Quinoa salad, hard-boiled bacon eggs, fruit gummy
Quinoa salad, hard-boiled bacon eggs, fruit gummy.

Grain-free sandwich, jicama & peppers, peas & pistachios
Grain-free sandwich, jicama & peppers, peas & pistachios.

Rice salad, plantain chips, fruit & veggies
Rice salad, plantain chips, fruit & veggies.

Roasted turkey, coleslaw, strawberries & coconut
Roasted turkey, coleslaw, strawberries & coconut.

Black rice noodles, ants on a log, veggies & fruit
Black rice noodles, ants on a log, veggies & fruit.

Edamame strawberry salad, seeds, sauerkraut, & hummus dip
Edamame strawberry salad, seeds, sauerkraut, & hummus dip.

Egg muffins, pesto dip & nut butter
Egg muffins, pesto dip & nut butter.
Mama Natural kids school lunch ideas 05

Hot lunch! Leftover pasta, berries, and cucumber slices.

Mama Natural kids school lunch ideas 04

15 School Lunches Ready in 5 Minutes or Less

These midday meals get an A+ in nutrition.

We get it: School is back in session, you’re in a hurry, and Jimmy John’s is freaky fast (and freaky easy). But serve your family grab-and-go takeout or restaurant fare, and you’re staring at nearly twice the price tag, according to a Visa survey—not to mention the extra calories and unnecessary additives.

Enter these quick and healthy school lunches that you can assemble and eat in five minutes or less. Fair warning: They’re all so delicious that you’ll want to pack a serving for yourself, too. Made with vitamin-rich ingredients and high-protein foods, these midday meals will fuel the most active kids and adults. They’ll also save your sanity, money, and stay-fit plan all at once. And for more ideas about feeding littles, check out these 25 Genius Bento Box Lunch Ideas for Your Kid

Greek chickpea salad

greek chickpea salad in mason jar

Ready in: 5 minutes

Perfectly packable (and so rainbow-colored that it will be worthy of bragging rights around the lunch table), this layered Mason jar salad is as easy as stacking, shaking, and eating it. Start with the hummus-balsamic dressing, then spoon in the cucumbers, onions, tomatoes, chickpeas, and olives before topping things off with the more delicate parsley and spinach. Come lunch, no soggy greens will be in sight

Turkey sandwich with 90-second bread

keto bread turkey sandwich

Ready in: 4 minutes

In less than two minutes, you can “bake” this homemade almond flour-and-egg bread in your microwave. Layer on lettuce, tomato, and onion, plus turkey, and top it off with your condiments of choice. Voila: Your high-protein, low-sugar school lunch is ready.

Peach, tomato, chicken, and bleu cheese salad

peach tomato chicken blue cheese salad on plate with fork and bread

Ready in: 5 minutes

Here’s a salad that showcases the best of summer produce in a family-friendly package. Shred leftover chicken to sprinkle over greens, tomatoes, and peaches, then transform this into a total kid-friendly treat by trading goat or feta cheese for bleu. Before handing over the brown bag, ask your child to determine their #1 dressing so they feel like they have control over the cuisine.

Red velvet beet smoothie bowl

red velvet beet smoothie bowl

Ready in: 5 minutes

Something slurpable from a straw never feels quite like a meal. But serve a smoothie in a bowl and eat it with a spoon, and it’s instantly more satisfying. (Plus, kids will love the pretty beet hearts.) Toss in a serving of almonds for a healthy fat boost and enough calories to power your mini-me through afternoon practice.

Smoked salmon and cream cheese wraps

salmon and cream cheese wrap

Ready in: 5 minutes

Burritos often get a bad “wrap” around here, but this is a far cry from the 1,200-plus calorie Chipotle creations. Beginning with a low-carb tortilla and filled with a light play on lox and cream cheese, each wrap offers a balanced macro mix: 291 calories, 15.2 grams of fat, and 23.8 grams of protein. If salmon is a tough sell for your family, try this same strategy with slices of leftover grilled chicken or turkey

Roasted red pepper dip with whole-wheat pita and veggies

red pepper dip with crackers

Ready in: 3 minutes

Put active hands to work with a DIY dunk spread. While the garlicky roasted red pepper mix blends, toss a handful of crudites and whole-wheat pita wedges in baggies. Three minutes later, your snack-turned-lunch is all set. To cut down on the less-healthy fats, try olive oil mayo of the regular, and swap plain Greek yogurt for sour cream.

Farmers’ market veggie sandwich

vegetable sandwich piled high

Ready in: 5 minutes

Always keep a container of hummus at home so that you’re never more than five minutes away from a healthy school lunch. Unlike smooshed PB&Js (again), this sandwich is an easy win with kids because it’s stacked with vibrant colors. Your child’s immune system will be as grateful as their taste buds—this nutrient-dense sandwich supplies nearly twice as much vitamin C as the typical adult needs in a day.

Peanut butter banana toasts with granola and honey

peanut butter banana toast

Ready in: 5 minutes

Here’s one instance when you can—and it’s better to—delegate the lunch duties to your little one. Toast the bread and put all that Tupperware to good use to hold nut butter, honey, and granola. Toss a banana (or pre-sliced berries for your tiniest) and a plastic butter knife in the brown bag so they can create their own healthy work of edible art.

Brown rice risotto

brown rice risotto with peas

Ready in: 2 minutes

Jazz up leftover or ready-to-eat brown rice with peas, lemon, and Parmesan for a meatless meal that tastes like you stirred all day to create it. In reality, it reaches its creamy consistency after just 60 seconds. For variety, try chopped asparagus or mushrooms in addition to (or in place of) the peas.

Chicken club pretzel bun

chicken club sandwich on pretzel bun

Ready in: 5 minutes

Treat your family to a restaurant-style meal with this upgraded BLT with chicken and a kid-pleasing pretzel bun.

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