Healthy lunch ideas for school lunch boxes is not as difficult as it seems. I’m going to share 10 healthy lunch ideas for school lunch boxes and show you how to make these with little effort.
School lunch boxes are not just for keeping kids from getting hungry — with these healthy lunch ideas for school lunch boxes, you will also be giving them foods that are good for their health.
Healthy Lunch Ideas For School Lunch Boxes
Packing school lunch is real work! We’ve compiled close to 100 photos of everyday packed lunches (with descriptions) to help give you some ideas and inspiration to pack great lunches for your own kids.
What you’ll see here: Real lunches packed for actual children that include fruits, veggies, whole grains, and protein.
What you won’t see here: Pinterest-perfect lunches, bland lunches, or an abundance of heavily-processed foods!
Finally, keep in mind that these lunches were packed for children of different ages and appetites. Every kid is different, and it’s OK if your own kids eat substantially more or less than what’s shown in these pictures.
Peanut butter and jelly on whole wheat waffles, clementines, Swiss cheese sticks, and green salad.
Pretzels, cucumbers, almond butter for dipping, cherry tomatoes and olives, pineapple and blueberries
Quinoa power bowl with lentils, tomatoes, and walnuts; peaches
Refried bean and cheese quesadilla on whole wheat tortilla, strawberries, avocado
burrito with black beans, tomatoes, and corn; avocado; sugar snap peas; honeydew melon
Pasta salad with broccoli, pepper, onion, feta cheese, andtomato; red grapes
Pepper and carrot strips; granola; yogurt with frozen berries and honey
Gyro with chicken and veggies inside a rolled pita, with creamy Greek dressing
“Turkey” turkey sandwich on whole wheat with peppers; hummus for dipping; mandarin oranges
Chicken salad in whole wheat pita; red grapes; cucumber rounds
Finger food lunch with pepperoni, crackers, cucumber rounds, cheese sticks, red grapes, and baby carrots
Deli turkey in whole wheat pita with lettuce, tomato, and shredded cheese; “ants on a log”; grape tomatoes, and mandarin oranges
“Pizza kabobs” with tortellini, pepperoni, grape tomatoes, and green bell peppers; marinara sauce for dipping; red grapes
Vegetarian protein box with cottage cheese, strawberries, whole grain crackers, hummus, baby carrots, celery, and grape tomatoes
Beef and veggie meatballs with orange bell peppers and red grapes
Mexican pinwheels with grapes, grape tomatoes, cucumbers, and carrot sticks
Rainbow box with whole grain crackers and cheese, clementine, grape tomatoes, broccoli, red grapes, and peanut butter
Apple and peanut butter sandwich on multigrain bread with bell peppers and cucumbers
Multigrain crackers, cucumber, frozen blueberries, deli turkey, creamy dip, and mandarin oranges
DIY nacho lunch with ground beef, grated cheese, grape tomatoes, tortilla chips, and frozen mango
Green bento with kiwi, cheese stick, sugar snap peas, cucumber, pretzels, and yellow bell peppers
Allergy-friendly lunch with cheese, pepitas, avocado, cherry tomatoes, red grapes, and blueberries
Snacky lunchbox with grapes, cucumbers, peppers, turkey, cheese, and multigrain crackers
Chickpea and avocado sandwich on whole wheat with spinach and tomato, orange segments
Snacky lunchbox with popcorn, yogurt, turkey, celery, nut butter for dipping, and blueberries
Tuna and white bean sandwich with arugula on whole grain English muffin, apple slices, and carrot sticks
Turkey sandwich and berry kabobs, baby carrots, cauliflower and broccoli, ranch for dipping
Green lunchbox with salad, peas, tortellini, and banana
Sandwich kabobs with bread, turkey, cheese, and grape tomatoes; baby carrots; fruit and veggie kabobs with cucumber, pineapple, and blueberries
Mexican bento box with brown rice, corn, cooked chicken, pinto beans, avocado, mushrooms, salsa, and pineapple.
Multigrain crackers, sugar snap peas, baby carrots, hummus for dipping, red grapes, and yogurt
Hummus sandwich on whole wheat with lettuce and black olives; frozen edamame beans with broccoli; pretzels and strawberries
20 HEALTHY LUNCH BOX IDEAS FOR KIDS
LUNCH BOX IDEAS FOR KIDS
These are the real-life lunches that I have packed my daughters.
And for the most part, they have eaten them right up🙌!
I refuse to spend a ton of time making school lunches so all of these lunches were packed in roughly 5-10 minutes⏲, all while I was making dinner. I usually pack school lunches at night while I am making dinner because I just can’t get my sh*t together enough in the mornings.
TIP: To make simple, easy and fast school lunches I utilized leftovers and simple ingredients I can pull out of my fridge – no fancy labor-intensive recipes involved.
So if you see nachos in one of the lunches, we probably had taco night for dinner and I used the leftovers for a fun nacho lunch. Muffins – I had those leftovers from the weekend when I did have some time to make some fresh muffins, but you could also use store-bought. Same with pasta and pizza – all leftovers.
All the extra cute Pinterest-worthy items – animal or eyeball picks, sandwiches and fruit cut into shapes and fun cut fruits and veggies are ALL OPTIONAL. Please 🙏 do not feel like you have to go the extra mile here, they are just kids lunches after all. I have a slight bento box accessory shopping problem🙈, so I add the extras in. But you will still be an amazing parent and lunch-maker if you skip them altogether.
REASONS TO LOVE THESE PACKED LUNCH IDEAS FOR KIDS
- full of real wholesome foods that your kids will love
- can be made allergy-friendly – Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free or Nut-Free (see notes for each recipe)
- no fancy recipes – I used leftovers or simple ingredients to make these lunches
- great for daycare, preschool or elementary-aged kids
- also great for homeschool or remote learning
- can be packed in any bento box style lunch box or any containers you prefer (read about my favorite bento boxes)
- health versions of school lunch food – pizza, nachos and burritos – so your kid doesn’t feel left out
- balanced lunches with a protein, fruit, veggie and something fun (see my tips on packing healthy lunches here)
- bonus – fun or cute item to surprise your child
- Planetbox Bento Box
- Mini Dip Containers
- Fruit and Veggie Cutters
- Sandwich Shape Cutters
- Silicon Muffin Liners
CHICKEN “FRIED” RICE
Chicken, rice, corn and carrots sautéed in a drizzle of sesame oil and coconut aminos. Edamame, peaches, broccoli and ranch, raspberries with apples cut out in the shape of hearts and a few dark chocolate covered raisins.
Allergy-Friendly – GF and NF. Use DF ranch and treat to make DF.
DIY PB&J WITH CRACKERS
Crackers served with a container of peanut butter (or almond butter) and another container filled with jam, carrots, olives, golden kiwi, mini grapes, cut strawberries and raspberries and mini dark chocolate chips. Eye picks can be found here.
Allergy-Friendly – GF – use gf crackers, DF – use df chocolate chips, NT – use sunbutter instead of peanut butter
GLUTEN FREE PUMPKIN + CREAM CHEESE SANDWICH
Pumpkin pancake sandwich with cream cheese and raspberry jam, cut yellow peppers, mini grapes, Chobani yogurt tube and a piece of dark chocolate. The pancakes were leftovers from a weekend breakfast, the pancakes were made from a gluten-free pumpkin pancake mix from Trader Joes, but any homemade, mix or frozen pancakes would work in this lunch box.
Allergy-Friendly – GF and NF. Use a DF brand of yogurt tube (like Kite Hill) to make DF.
Turkey + Cheddar + Salami on a Stick, cut kiwi, red pepper and carrot sticks with a side of ranch, strawberries, blueberries and dye-free candy. Sandwich sticks can be found here and ranch container here (similar).
Allergy-Friendly – GF and NF. To make DF use DF ranch and cheese.
CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE
Applesauce with cinnamon, salami with dinosaur pick, sliced and cubed cheese, turkey roll-ups, almond crackers, orange pepper slices, kiwi slices, mini grapes and chocolate raisins.
Allergy-Friendly – NF and GF. To make DF use DF treats and cheese.
IT’S FRIDAY AND I’M OVER SCHOOL LUNCHES
Cream cheese with honey star sandwich, lentil puffs, cut grapes, cut carrots and dye-free candy.
Allergy-Friendly – NF and DF. For GF use GF bread.
GREEN MONSTER SCHOOL LUNCH
Pesto gluten-free pasta with parmesan, cut kiwi, grapes and avocado salad, roasted seaweed, cut cucumbers and dye-free candy.
Allergy-Friendly – GF, NF and DF. If NF, make sure your pesto is nut free.
Bean and cheese burrito with guacamole (I wrapped the burrito in the foil before packing the lunch up), corn, sliced carrots, watermelon balls and dye-free candy. I used a frozen burrito for this lunch, but any homemade or frozen variety you prefer would work.
Allergy-Friendly – NF. To make GF and DF you can use DF cheese and a GF tortilla.
HIDDEN VEGGIE FOR #THEWIN
Beet applesauce, cut tomatoes, sliced string cheese, snapeas, cut mild Italian sausage with outer-space picks, mini container of mustard and a dye-free gummy.
Allergy-Friendly – NF and GF. To make DF, use DF cheese or omit.
GLUTEN-FREE PESTO PASTA WITH CHICKEN + CORN
Gluten-Free pesto pasta with chicken and corn, Pure Organics Apple Strip, cut cucumbers, blackberries and walnuts.
Allergy-Friendly – GF and DF. For NF, omit the walnuts and make sure you use pesto that is nut free.
DIY CHEESE & CRACKERS
Laughing cow with two types of crackers in silicon muffin liners, chopped broccoli, chopped red and green pluots, snapeas and a chocolate pretzel.
Allergy-Friendly – NF. To make GF, use GF crackers and treat. To make DF, use DF cheese and treat.
HEALTHY DIY NACHOS
DIY Nacho Kit – organic corn chips, lettuce, shredded cheese, taco turkey and guacamole all in silicon cups. Also in the bento is grapes with mandarin orange sections and allergy-friendly chocolate chips.
Allergy-Friendly – GF and NF. To make DF, use DF cheese,
TORTELLINI + CHICKEN DIPPERS
Cheese tortellini and chicken dunkers with pesto dip, cut cantaloupe, cut cucumbers, popcorn and chocolate pretzel.
Allergy-Friendly – NF and DF. To make GF, use GF tortellini and treat.
HAPPY TUMMY SCHOOL LUNCH
Kefir pouch, snap peas and carrots with ranch (similar container here), sliced apples, crackers with cheese and salami and dye-free candy.
Allergy-Friendly – NF. To make DF, use a dairy free kefir pouch or replace with an apple pouch and use DF cheese. To make GF, use GF cheese and ranch.
BREAKFAST FOR LUNCH
Gluten-Free cinnamon-sugar pancake muffin, strawberries and raspberries, yogurt and granola, kiwi and avocado, sliced chicken sausage and daily vitamins. I used this pancake mix but turned them into muffins by following the recipe on the back of the bag.
Allergy-Friendly – GF. To make DF, use a DF yogurt. To make NF, use NF granola and make sure the pancake muffin mix is NF.
A PIZZA THE PUZZLE
Leftover pizza cut into puzzle pieces, carrots, pepper slices and snap peas with ranch in a mini container, strawberries and raspberries, Chobani yogurt tube and dark chocolate raisins.
Allergy-Friendly – NF. To make DF, use DF cheese, ranch and yogurt tube. To make GF, use GF pizza.
ALMOST OUT OF GROCERIES LUNCH
Bean and cheese quesadilla with smashed avocado, sliced apples, cut kiwis, sliced carrots and chocolate raisins.
Allergy-Friendly – NF. To make GF, use GF or corn tortillas. To make DF, use DF cheese and pack a DF treat.
GREEK LUNCH SPREAD
Greek Meatballs with feta dipping sauce, pistachios and roasted chickpeas, sliced olives, cucumber, feta and tomato salad, cut watermelon and dark chocolate. I used a pre-made organic greek flavored meatballs that were gluten free.
Allergy-Friendly – GF and NF. To make DF, use DF dip, omit the feta in the salad and pack a DF treat.
IS IT FRIDAY YET.. ??
Leftover cheeseburger and pickles, sliced mini peppers, raspberries and blueberries, cucumbers with ranch in a mini container (similar) and a piece of dark chocolate.
Allergy-Friendly – NF. To make Gf, use a gluten free bun. To make DF, omit the cheese and use DF ranch.
GLUTEN-FREE PIZZA ROLL-UPS
Gluten-Free pizza roll-ups with marinara dipping sauce, carrots with ranch dip, grapes, berries and chocolate covered gummies.
Allergy-Friendly – GF and NF. To make DF, use DF cheese, ranch and treat.