10 Healthy School Lunches for Kids
Two weeks of healthy school lunches for kids! These are the lunches that my kids LOVE, and they are EASY to make!
I hate to say it, but back to school time will be here before we know it. My youngest goes back to preschool in less than two weeks, I start back to teaching in 3 weeks, and the week after that Julia starts 2nd grade. I’m not ready for this summer to be over, so I’m soaking up every last day while also getting organized for the busy back to school season!
Getting back into a routine after the relaxing days of summer helps us to make the back to school transition smoother. We’re already working on moving up our bedtime schedule. Planning for healthy breakfasts so we fuel our bodies right in the mornings also helps.
Back to school also means getting back into a routine of packing lunchboxes every day. It’s important to me to pack a healthy lunch for my kids, because I know that they learn better when their tummies are full from a balanced meal. I try to include a fruit, vegetable, grain (preferably whole grains), and a protein in their lunch each day. We usually pack our kids lunches the night before because our mornings are very busy on school days.
Sometimes when it comes to packing lunches, we feel like we’re packing the same thing day after day. That gets boring, fast. So I’ve done some brainstorming to create two weeks’ worth of healthy lunches. These are things that (for the most part) my kids like to eat. They do each have their own preferences when it comes to vegetables and fruits, and their favorite meals are often changing. One week, cheese roll ups may be my 7-year-old’s favorite, and the next she’s tired of them and wants something new. Keeping her lunchbox filled with a variety of foods each day helps.
My kids love to eat from their school lunch box, at home! They were so excited on the days when I photographed the lunchboxes for this post, since they got to eat the lunches when I was done. If your kids are picky about foods, I recommend letting them try new things in their lunchbox at home before sending those foods to school. And even if they don’t eat certain foods, keep offering them. My kids won’t eat snap peas, but they did try them when I put them in their lunchbox the other day. I’ll keep offering snap peas from time to time, and one day they just may surprise me. 😉
I hope these healthy school lunches will spark some inspiration for you!
- If your child’s school is nut-free, sunbutter is a good alternative to peanut butter, almond butter, and other nuts butters.
- The lunchbox pictured in these photos is from Pottery Barn Kids, and is unfortunately no longer available. They currently offer this bento box, and I also recommend the PlanetBox as a similar alternative to the lunchbox pictured. Amazon offers many bento box options as well. We always include a cold pack in our kids’ lunchboxes, to keep cold foods fresh.
Our 10 Favorite Healthy School Lunches:
- Cheese roll ups (whole grain tortilla, cream cheese, cheddar cheese slices), apple slices, peanut butter chocolate chip energy bite, cherry tomatoes, bell peppers and white bean dip.
- Bean and cheese burrito, peach slices, mini almond shortbread cookie, cherry tomatoes, pineapple.
- Whole wheat english muffin pizzas (Top english muffin halves with tomato sauce, a sprinkle of oregano, and grated mozzarella cheese. Melt cheese under broiler for 3-4 minutes.), bell pepper and carrot sticks, raw almonds and dark chocolate chips, black olives, apple slices.
- Cherry tomato, apple, and cheese skewers (cut sharp points off skewers), cantaloupe, mini chocolate chip banana muffin, bell peppers & snap peas, cucumber slices, white bean dip (made with a combo of cannellini beans and chickpeas).
- Whole wheat pita bread, carrot sticks, white bean dip or hummus, salted cashew energy bite with cranberries (made with almonds instead of cashews due to Julia’s allergy), bell peppers, snap peas, strawberries.
- Waffle recipe (from the freezer), cherry tomatoes, peanut butter chocolate chip energy bite, hard boiled egg, strawberries & blueberries.
- Almond butter banana roll-ups (whole grain tortilla, spread with almond butter, place banana in center, roll up and slice), strawberries, energy bite, cantaloupe, celery sticks, bell pepper.
- Sunbutter and jelly sandwich on whole wheat, raspberries with dark chocolate chips, cheddar cheese cubes, carrot sticks, blueberries & strawberries.
- Quick pasta salad (4 cups cooked mini farfalle pasta tossed with a mixture of 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 tablespoon lime juice, 1 teaspoon honey, and 1/4 teaspoon mild chili powder. Add 1 cup each of canned corn, black beans, and halved cherry tomatoes.), whole wheat toast sticks with butter, strawberries, hard boiled egg, cantaloupe.
- Cooked chicken, brown rice & ketchup, cucumber slices, mini chocolate chip oatmeal cookie, cantaloupe & strawberries, cherry tomatoes.
What are your kids’ favorite healthy school lunches? Please share your ideas in the comments. 🙂
More inspiration for planning for healthy eating:
Love your delicious, practical suggestions! I did a similar post not long ago and my kids loved eating from their lunch boxes after photographing too! 🙂
Thank you, Blair! I’ll have to check out your post, too! The more ideas, the better, when it comes to school lunches! 😉
Awesome job with these lunches Kristine — they’re so healthy but fun, too! I have no idea what kids wouldn’t want to dive into those lunchboxes full of bright, colorful foods! That’s so cute that your kids were so excited about eating them when you were done photographing them, and they have the best lunches in school. 🙂 Hope you enjoy the last few weeks of summer!
Thank you, Marcie! You enjoy the rest of summer, too!
I can’t believe kids go back to school soon! This summer has flown by. I don’t have any kids, but I love seeing your lunch box creations! I wish my lunches were like this when I was in school! 🙂 Sounds like your kids would be the envy of lunch time…I love your colorful photos!
Thank you, Gayle!! I wish we had a few extra weeks of summer!
Oh my goodness, so many great ideas! I’m really hoping my picky eater will change his ways before he has to go to school. I keep offering him veggies and he wants nothing to do with them. Maybe I just need to get him a cute bento box 🙂
Wow! All of these options look amazing! I’d be thrilled to eat any of these as an adult, lol. Your kids are so lucky to have a mom that cares so much about what they eat. I’m taking notes for the future! 🙂
These are all great suggestions! Can’t believe we are talking about back to school…time really flies!
Kristine can you please make my lunches for work?! Haha these look amazing! When I was in elementary school I went through a phase where I did NOT like sandwiches for whatever reason. My poor mom! My go-to during that time was tortellini salad, which I still have a fond place for in my heart. Thankfully I warmed up to sandwiches again soon after and have deemed them acceptable as lunch fare ever since. 🙂
These look really good, I have two that are talking about going vegetarian so it’s nice to see different options for their lunches. So glad I found your site via Hendersonville Produce. Thank you!
Thank you, Crystal! It makes me so happy to hear that these ideas are helpful!
where did you get your bento boxes from?
This one is from Pottery Barn Kids. However, I don’t think they sell this particular lunchbox anymore. Planetbox sells a similar one!
Hi! I saw that you have a preschooler and a 7 year old. For your preschooler – is the bento packed just for lunch? Or do you combine lunches and snacks in the bento and they just pick and choose during the day?
Hi Lauren! Somehow I missed replying to your comment. Our preschool provides snacks, so the bento box is just for lunch. If I had to send a snack (as I do for my now 8-year-old) I’d pack that separately just to make things easy.
I love your lunchbox ideas. I am obsessed with food safety, and after I did my certification in said subject, I have become even more risk-averse. I have so many ideas for lunch for my son, but hesitate, because I feel those dishes won’t taste good when cold (we use the ice pack, too). The only thing I will put in a thermos is a stew /soup (bec it has to contain some liquid for food safety compliance). When you pack chicken and brown rice, does your child enjoy it cold? It looks like a wonderful idea – I may try it. My son loves rolled-up omelette “crepes” for lunch. I put some Greek yoghurt and olive oil in a container on the side. We use the Lunch Bots Trio.
What should do if my kid is a really picky eater?
I’m not an expert in picky eating or child nutrition, just a mom who can share my personal experience. There are lots of websites and other resources that specialize in picky eating that might help you. Personally, I follow the philosophy that it’s my job to serve healthy, balanced meals and my kids’ job to decide what and how much to eat. I always make sure that meals include at least one food that I know our kids will eat. We also continue to expose them to new foods because it can take many, many exposures before they begin to like a food. But we don’t require or make them eat anything. You can try serving the same food in different ways. For example, zucchini could be roasted, sauteed, baked into muffins, shredded and added to meatballs or pasta sauce, etc.