In this post you’ll find a collection of simple healthy school lunch ideas that the whole family will enjoy! I was inspired to write about this topic because many of you have written asking for healthy eating tips.
Is it meal time at your house yet? Are you looking for some dinner ideas that are easy to make and all the kiddos will love? What about dinner for the whole family, even your adult kids. Even though your children are all grown up now, you may want to treat them to some home cooked meals like their mommy and daddy used to make. So cook up these healthy school lunch ideas, throw in some homemade desserts and dole out the love!
Simple Healthy School Lunch Ideas
Sending your kids to school with a Simple Healthy School Lunch Ideas is just as important as sending them to school at all. Whether you’re packing your child’s lunch or planning their birthday party, it’s vital to think about the long term health benefits of what you’re providing. Some packaged foods appear healthier than others, but items like chips and even granola bars are high in salt, sugar and fat. Be sure to read labels carefully when buying these convenience foods for your kids.
simple and healthy school lunch ideas to make mornings easier
Peanut Butter and Jelly (PB&J) Sushi Sandwiches
Serve the kids a lunchtime staple with an inventive twist. By rolling the bread flat, this PB&J sandwich transforms into sushi rolls that are fun to eat with a fork and knife or chopsticks.
Mini Monster Sandwiches
Halloween will be here before you know it so why not give a ham and cheese sandwich a spooky makeover with olive eyes? It only takes a few minutes to cut out shapes in the cheese and bread for a totally silly creation kids will enjoy gobbling up.
I Heart Panini
The contents of this grilled panini can be swapped with whatever kind of cheese or deli meat you have on hand. The sweetest part? This dish is shaped like a heart.
Message in a Bottle Sandwich
Grab some cookie cutter letters and carve out love notes to little (or big) kids. Whether you write, “Good luck on the exam,” or “I love you to the moon and back,” it’s easy to feel appreciated when mom or dad sends a personal note. When looking for ways to avoid allergens like peanuts, swap the nut butter for cafeteria-friendly sunflower seed butter.
Sunflower Butter & Grape Sandwich
So many kids love PB&Js, but sometimes the sugar content of the jam and the need for an alternative to peanut butter (many districts don’t allow peanut products these days) call for a different kind of sandwich. Nutritionist Frances Largeman-Roth swaps high-fructose jelly for freshly sliced grapes and uses sunflower butter.
Minion Bento Sandwich
These Minion characters look like a pastry chef’s work of art, but all parents really need to master this sandwich design are orange and yellow cheese, some nori wrappers and kitchen shears. Decorating the Minions with different facial expressions is also a fun activity for kids to do if they’re at home and can help make lunch themselves.
Easy entrées for kids
Easy Oven-Baked Chicken Tenders
Rather than heating up frozen nuggets or deep frying fingers, simulate the crunch of classic chicken fingers with this oven-baked recipe. Make it ahead of time and serve cold or give them a quick reheat in the oven or microwave.
Healthy English Muffin Pizza
We gave this kid classic a makeover that still hits all the flavor marks and is super easy for parents (or older kids) to make. Instead of using pepperoni made with beef and pork, use turkey pepperoni, which has fewer calories and less fat. Feel free to top the mini pizzas with whatever colorful veggies your kids will enjoy.
Kid-Friendly Rainbow Pasta Salad
Boost the nutrition value of pasta salad by using one made with chickpeas and then speckle it with colorful veggies. For an extra boost of protein, try adding canned tuna or diced leftover chicken.
Mini-Corn and Ham Frittatas
Frittatas are an all-in-one, fuss-free meal to enjoy anytime of day. This recipe is packed with veggies and gets plenty of protein from the eggs and ham. You can make it ahead of time and freeze a big batch to defrost later in the week.
Peanut Butter and Jelly Empanadas
Empanadas typically contain a mixture of meats and potatoes, but this version has a sweeter side. Bake the PB&J empanadas in advance to pack in lunch bags throughout the week, or serve them warm out of the oven as an after school snack. You may want to double the recipe because this one is a hit with both kids and grown-ups.
Simple sides for a healthy lunchbox
Heart-Shaped Baked Pita Chips
Pita chips are a great vessel for numerous nutritious dips. This is a great recipe because little kids will love using cookie cutters to make fun shapes — and they’ll enjoy eating them, too!
This veggie-loaded hummus dip is an amazing recipe that grows with your child. You can serve it as a puree for a young baby or use it as a dip for a toddler and older kids. Made with carrots, sweet potatoes and chickpeas, this recipe is so good that you’ll want to eat it as well.
Holy broccomole! This is one delicious dip that’s packed with vitamins and minerals. If your little ones like avocado, then they will flip for this joyful rendition from Joy Bauer that’s made with one sneaky ingredient: broccoli. There are simple tricks to keeping guacamole fresh and green until lunch time, so try them out with this recipe.
Gridiron Green Goddess Dip
Accompany sandwiches or any main proteins for school lunch with some colorful veggies. Kids may be more inclined to devour some carrots, snap peas or radishes if there’s a tasty dip. This take on Green Goddess dressing seasons protein-packed Greek yogurt and cottage cheeses to get a pop of flavor tots of all ages will enjoy.
Siri’s Cacao Peanut Butter Energy Bites
Pop some dessert into the lunchbox that will provide an energy boost rather than a sugar high. These quick, no-bake bites are sweetened with dates, maple syrup and cocoa for a rich flavor that will make it easy devour to satiating protein and healthy seeds.
Joy Bauer’s Broccoli Tots
Say goodbye to bags of freezer-burned tater tots. This homemade version is easy and delicious. By replacing the potato with broccoli, Joy Bauer cuts back on carbs and calories without sacrificing texture and flavor. Five large tots contain only 100 calories and make for a crispy, flavorful side dish.
Healthy School Lunch Ideas (Make Ahead, Quick & Easy!)
Non-Sandwich Lunch Ideas
Let’s face it… sandwiches are so yesterday.
Thankfully, between Pinterest and Google, we can find myriad of ways to feed our children nourishing foods. And no need to compromise when it comes to school lunches!
Muffins don’t have to be for breakfast only.
In fact, savory muffins are a great option for easy lunch box meal for your kiddo. They make a terrific lunch that kids will love.
How could you go wrong with corndog muffin or veggie bites? Packed with protein, nutrition, and fun for the kids!
These are also great to shake things up a bit and skip the thermos. Variety for you as you prepare these foods and variety for your kids as they open their lunchbox!
- Healthy Egg Muffins
- Paleo Sausage Cheese Balls
- Homemade Corndog Muffins
- Paleo Savory Zucchini Muffins
- Pizza Einkorn Muffins
- Mini Beef Meatballs
- Grain-Free Savory Chicken & Veggie Bites
Quick And Easy Lunches
The ideas below are mostly for bento-style lunches. They are convenient for kid’s lunchboxes because they are usually very quick and easy to put together.
Bento is a single portion, home-packed meal (or take-out) with roots in Japanese cuisine. The trend quickly picked up because it’s so easy to pack a variety of foods in one container.
My favorite containers for bento boxes are from PlanetBox. They have three different sizes and tons of accessories to go with them.
Kids love bento boxes because it gives them control over what is packed. It is especially helpful for children with sensory issues or those who are bothered when their “food touches each other.”
Some of these does require a little bit more prep time but typically all these are quick to put together during busy mornings. These bento boxes are fun for even the kids to put together the night before.
Additional foods that can be added to bento boxes that are not on this list include a variety of fresh fruits and veggies: grapes, strawberries, apple wedges, grape tomatoes, cucumbers, carrot sticks, etc. Be sure to add in a small container of healthy dip or hummus if your kids love to dip their veggies in.
I’ve also added raw cheddar and nitrate-free salami or pepperoni to my kid’s bento boxes.
- Healthy Homemade Lunchables
- Homemade Lunch Meat
- Allergy-Free Homemade Vegetable Dip
- Broccoli Cheddar Quinoa Bars
- Gluten-Free Cheddar Cheese Crackers
- Zucchini Chips
- Easy Roasted Broccolini
- Healthy Homemade Nut Free Granola Bars
- Creamy & Easy Homemade Ranch
- Easy Whole Wheat Einkorn Cheddar Crackers
- Green Plantain Crackers
- Easy Homemade Pickle Chips
- Healthy Gluten-Free Pasta Salad Recipe
- Mayo-Free Tuna Salad
- Healthy Potato Salad with Probiotics
This is the category for sweets. Of course, you can always throw in a handful of grapes and call it good. But for inspiration, this section has some really fun yet healthy sweets for your kids’ lunch boxes. These can easily be thrown into the bento box as well.
Remember to follow EWG’s recommendation for Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen fruits and vegetables.
The good thing about most of these recipes are that even though they are considered a dessert in your school lunchbox, they are still packed with nutrition. For example, the gummies and gelatin-type desserts require grass-fed gelatin, which is a great source of amino acids!
The last four items will need a small container to hold them. I love 4-ounce jelly jars but if you have to avoid glass, there are many options available online!
Healthy School Lunch Ideas
1. Mini Salad Pita Pockets, pretzels, carrot sticks, mandarin oranges
2. PB&J tortilla roll up, Cocoa-Nut Almond Energy Balls, grapes, bell pepper slices
3. BLT on a soft roll, fruit leather, cheese stick, sugar snap peas
4. Ham & Cheese Melt Deviled Eggs, tube yogurt, strawberries, celery sticks
5. Laughing cow cheese wedges, pretzels, fresh cherries, lemon poppyseed mini muffin
6. Chicken & Ranch Wraps, goldfish crackers, peach, celery sticks
7. Sesame Noodle Salad, mixed fruit cup, yogurt, watermelon cubes
8. Turkey and cheese roll, goldfish crackers, green pepper slices, strawberries, nectarine
9. Fancy Chicken Salad on a mini bagel, dried fruit, black olives, cauliflower pieces
10. Green smoothie, peanut butter sandwich crackers, pear slices, trail mix
11. Jalapeño Artichoke Dip, crackers, orange bell peppers, sugar snap peas, watermelon, dried apricots