35 EASY & Healthy School Lunchbox Ideas Your Kids Will Actually Eat!

“I can’t get my kids to eat anything healthy in their lunchboxes!” – Every mum ever

As a busy parent, packing nutritious lunches that your kids will actually eat can seem daunting. We want to provide our children with foods that will nourish their bodies and brains during the school day, but it’s no use packing the healthiest meal if your child won’t touch it. The key is finding creative ways to make classic lunchbox favorites more nutritious while still appealing to even the pickiest palates.

In this post, we’ll provide 35 easy and healthy school lunchbox ideas that your kids are sure to love. From make-ahead meals to on-the-go finger foods, hydrating drinks to wholesome baked goods, you’ll find plenty of inspiration to add variety and nutrition to your daily school lunch routine. We’ve focused on easy recipes featuring family-friendly flavors, and lots of fun presentations that will make any child excited to open their lunchbox. Best of all, these satisfying meals and snacks will give your kids the energy and focus they need to power through the school day.

Let’s get started with some tips and tricks for packing the perfect healthy lunchbox!

kouji tsuru rvptCHTnoNs unsplash

Tips for Packing a Healthy Lunch

When packing a healthy lunchbox for your kids, there are a few key things to focus on:

  • Include whole grains like whole wheat bread, brown rice, quinoa, or oats. They provide important nutrients and fiber to keep kids full. Things like sandwich wraps, rice cakes, crackers, and air-popped popcorn make easy whole grain options.

  • Add lean protein like turkey, ham, tuna, eggs, beans or lentils. Protein helps fill kids up and gives them lasting energy.

  • Pack plenty of fruits and veggies. Fill half the lunchbox with produce to provide vitamins, minerals and fiber. Go for colorful picks like grapes, berries, carrot sticks, bell pepper slices or broccoli to make it eye-catching.

  • Don’t forget healthy fats. Things like nut or seed butters, avocado, hummus and olive oil help satisfy appetites.

  • Keep variety from day to day to prevent boredom. Switch up the fruits, veggies, proteins and grains regularly.

  • Make it appealing. Cut sandwiches into fun shapes with cookie cutters. Include dips and dressings for veggies. Add a few fun finger foods like cheese cubes or trail mix.

  • Get your child involved. Have them help pick out fruits, veggies, and proteins at the store. Let them assemble part of their lunchbox to build investment.

Make-Ahead Healthy Lunchbox Ideas

Get ahead of the week by preparing some items in advance for quick grab-and-go lunches. Here are some make-ahead healthy lunch ideas kids will love:

overnight oats for healthy lunch box ideasOvernight Oats

Overnight oats are easy to make in advance. Simply combine oats, milk or yogurt, and mix-ins like fruit or chocolate chips in a jar or container. Refrigerate overnight so the oats soak up the liquid and soften. Kids will love the fun flavors and textures.

muffins healthy lunchbox ideasVeggie Muffins

Whip up a big batch of healthy veggie muffins on the weekend. Try zucchini, carrot, sweet potato or pumpkin versions. Make extras to freeze so you always have muffins ready to pack. The veggies add nutrients while the kids just taste yummy muffin goodness.

smoothie healthy lunchbox ideas

 

Frozen Smoothie Packs

Prepare individual smoothie packs by blending yogurt, milk, fruit and spinach. Pour into reusable pouches or jars and freeze. Kids can take frozen smoothies to school and they’ll be thawed and ready to drink by lunchtime. A nutritious liquid snack they’ll think is a treat!

##Kid-Friendly Sandwiches

Sandwiches are a lunchbox staple for good reason – they’re portable, customizable, and you can sneak veggies into them! Get creative with spreads, breads and fillings to keep your kiddo interested.

Nut butter and banana or honey sandwiches are a quick classic. Spread almond or peanut butter onto whole grain bread and top with thinly sliced banana. For a touch of sweetness, drizzle the banana with a bit of honey before closing the sandwich.

Hummus veggie wraps are easy to assemble and pack in protein and produce. Spread hummus onto a whole wheat tortilla and top with crunchy veggies like shredded carrots, sliced cucumbers and bell peppers. Roll up tightly. The vegetables add freshness while the hummus provides protein and fiber.

Fun Finger Foods

Kids love foods they can pick up and eat with their hands. Finger foods make lunch more interactive and fun. Here are some healthy finger food ideas to pack:

Fruit Kebabs

  • Thread cubes of fruit like grapes, apples, pineapple, berries, orange slices or melon onto colorful skewers. The sweet fruit is like candy to kids and provides important vitamins.

Veggie Sticks with Dip

  • Cut carrots, celery, cucumber, bell peppers, snap peas or other crunchy veggies into sticks. Pair with a healthy dip like hummus, yogurt ranch or nut butter.

Cheese Cubes

  • Cube or slice your kids’ favorite cheeses like cheddar, Monterey Jack or mozzarella. Pair with whole grain crackers for a satisfying crunch.

Turkey Roll-Ups

  • Spread cream cheese, pesto or hummus onto a tortilla or whole wheat wrap. Add sliced turkey, ham or prosciutto and roll it up. Cut into pinwheels or slices.

Satisfying Salads

Salads provide a nourishing way to get veggies into your kid’s lunchbox. They can be prepped ahead of time and pair well with other lunch items like sandwiches or baked goods. Try these satisfying salad ideas:

pasta salad healthy lunchbox ideas

Pasta Salad

Pasta salad is a classic option that most kids love. Cook up some fun shaped pasta like spirals or bowties according to package directions. Let cool then mix with chopped veggies like grape tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers or broccoli florets. Add some shredded cheese like cheddar or parmesan for extra protein. Toss with a simple dressing of olive oil, lemon juice or red wine vinegar and seasonings. Chill overnight and portion into small containers.

taco salad healthy lunch box ideas

Taco Salad

Transform taco night leftovers into a tasty taco salad. Use shredded lettuce or mixed greens as the base. Top with cooked ground beef or turkey seasoned with taco seasoning. Add toppings like shredded cheddar, diced tomatoes, sliced black olives, diced bell peppers, shredded carrots, corn and crushed tortilla chips. Send with salsa and ranch dressing on the side to allow kids to build their own tac o salad.

cesar salad healthy lunchbox ideas

Chicken Caesar Salad

Chicken caesar salad is a nutritious and filling option. Dice some grilled chicken breast and mix with chopped romaine lettuce, halved cherry tomatoes, shredded parmesan and croutons. Send with a side of caesar dressing for drizzling on top. For an extra kick, add some diced red onion or bell pepper. The protein from the chicken and cheese will help keep kids full.

Salads allow you to pack in nutrition by including lean protein, veggies and healthy fats. Let kids get creative by providing mix-in toppings and dressings. These satisfying salads will give their lunchbox a fresh and nourishing boost.

baked goods healthy lunchbox ideas

Wholesome Baked Goods

Baked goods like muffins, bars, and mini quiches are great make-ahead options for easy school lunches. They can be prepared on weekends or in batches and frozen. Just grab and go for healthy pre-made options kids will love.

Fruit and Oat Bars

Homemade fruit and oat bars are much healthier than store-bought granola bars. Make a batch over the weekend mixing your kid’s favorite dried fruits, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. Slice into bars and wrap individually for a satisfying fiber-filled snack. Popular combinations are dates, raisins, walnuts, and oats or applesauce, cranberries, pistachios, and oats.

Mini Quiches

Make a dozen mini crustless quiches in a muffin tin for wholesome ready-to-grab breakfasts or lunches. Fill with combinations of vegetables, cheese, lean protein, and seasonings. Good options are broccoli and cheddar, spinach and feta, or ham and Swiss. Freeze and reheat throughout the week for a hot healthy lunch full of protein.

Hydrating Drinks

Kids need to stay hydrated throughout the school day. Pack some thirst-quenching beverages to keep their energy up.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.

Fruit Infused Water

Infuse water with sliced fruit like oranges, lemons, limes, watermelon, strawberries or cucumber to add flavor without added sugar. Let it sit overnight in the fridge so the water absorbs the fruity flavors. Pour into a thermos or reusable bottle.

Smoothies

Make smoothies ahead of time and freeze them in cups or pouches. Try combinations like strawberry banana, tropical mango, or mixed berry. Thaw in the morning and add to the lunchbox with a reusable straw.

Milk

Milk is a nutritious beverage loaded with calcium, vitamin D and protein. Low-fat or nonfat milk in single serve cartons or pouches are perfect for lunchboxes.

Juice Boxes

Look for 100% fruit juice boxes with no added sugar. Apple, grape and orange juices are kid-pleasers. Limit to 4-6 ounces per day.

fresh fruit and veggies lunch box ideas

Fresh Fruit and Veggie Ideas

Filling your child’s lunchbox with fresh fruits and veggies is an easy way to provide nutrients and variety. Here are some kid-friendly options:

  • Apple slices – Apples are sweet, crunchy, and full of fiber. Cut apples into thin slices to prevent browning and pack them in a covered container. For extra flavor, drizzle with a bit of lemon juice.

  • Baby carrots – These petite carrots are the perfect size for little hands. Kids love their sweet, crisp crunch. Baby carrots are low calorie and packed with vitamins.

  • Sugar snap peas – These crispy pea pods are a fun finger food. Sugar snap peas have a sweet flavor and plenty of vitamin C. Just rinse and pack them whole.

  • Clementines – Kids go crazy for these kid-sized, easy-to-peel oranges. Clementines are juicy and sweet with no mess or fuss. Plus they provide lots of immune-boosting vitamin C.

Packing fresh fruits and veggies boosts nutrition and gives kids variety at lunchtime. Try tucking in favorites like apple slices, baby carrots, sugar snap peas, and clementines.

Conclusion

Packing healthy lunches for kids that they’ll actually eat can seem daunting. But with a bit of planning and creativity, it’s possible to make lunches that are nutritious, delicious, and fun for kids.

In this post, we’ve covered some tips for packing balanced lunches, like including a variety of foods, getting kids involved, using bento boxes, and avoiding repeat meals. We’ve also suggested kid-friendly ideas like fruit kabobs, muffin tin meals, topped crackers, and more.

The key is finding foods your kids enjoy that give them the fuel they need to learn and play. Get creative with shapes, arrangements, dips, and finger foods to make lunches interesting. And don’t be afraid to experiment and ask your child for input on meal ideas.

With a little effort, school lunches can be something kids look forward to each day, rather than something they dread or throw away. A wholesome lunch gives them energy and nutrition for their busy days. Plus it teaches them healthy eating habits that will benefit them for life.

What are your go-to healthy lunchbox ideas? Share your kid-approved meals and tips in the comments!