15 Healthy Lunch Box Ideas for Kids
Peanut Butter and Jelly? Check.
A juice box? Got it.
Toss in a bag of chips, fruit snacks, and maybe some apple slices, and what you’ve got is a pretty plain and boring lunch every day for your kiddo.
I know for me that mantra hit home. What was I doing?
I could certainly give my kiddos a healthier, more interesting lunch than that. I mean, I certainly don’t eat the same thing every day and I try to fuel my body with nothing but the best.
While they may not be the most adventurous eaters, they deserve a yummier, more creative lunch experience.
So, here are some of the combinations and ideas I’ve tried over the school year. They happily reported they love the variety, they did in fact try some new foods, and their lunch boxes totally made the other kids jealous!
Read on to learn about 15 of my favorite healthy lunchbox ideas!
1) Pizza Rolls
My son is a pizza fiend. But, pizza isn’t always the healthiest option—until I found a super yummy, easy, and ok to eat recipe.
What Lisa Cooks has a tasty recipe to follow so you can give the kids an alternative version of pizza any day of the week.
It keeps well in the fridge and can be enjoyed cold or warmed. It will be hard for you to keep your own hungry hands off of it!
2) Carrot Stars
I learned quickly that if I wanted my son to eat vegetables, I had to get a little creative—especially with ensuring he eats them while at school.
Once I saw the raw veggies come back untouched, I gave the recipe for carrot stars a try, and have never looked back.
Check out Healthy Little Foodies blog for a full overview.
Your kids will be too busy admiring the shape (just use cookie cutters) to consider they are actually eating something (and enjoying it) good for their bodies.
3) Zucchini and Pasta Slice
It took my son a long time to want to dig into pasta. He just couldn’t get into the texture.
But, I’ve noticed that many kids accept elbow pasta. When I came across the recipe for zucchini and pasta slices, I knew my son would eat it and get some veggies into his diet as well.
Planning With Kids has step by step images and a full set of directions in order to make this dish.
I opted to skip the onions, and add more cheese (low fat of course!)
Each square can be portioned and bagged so every member of the family has lunch ready to go!
4) Rainbow Veggies and Dip
Kids are a tough crowd when it comes to eating their daily dose of veggies. But, I’ve found that presentation is everything.
So I cut red, green, and yellow bell peppers into rainbow shapes and have placed two cauliflower pieces (to mimic the shape of clouds) at the end.
Toss in a mini bowl of reduced fat ranch dressing or hummus, and you have a picturesque snack that is pretty touch to dismiss.
Simple Vegan Blog has a variation of this that I also love!
5) Mini Portion Lunch
If you haven’t come across the adorable lunch boxes by Goodbyn, you’re truly missing out.
Just looking at them inspired me to fill each mini section with something tasty and nutritious. I’ve placed things like broccoli florets, hummus, pita squares, oranges, tuna salad (you name it) inside.
My son was totally obsessed with eating everything out of it and I was all for it!
You can even visit the initial site to gain some ideas for lunch and snack, and to see how they’re packed.
6) Turkey and Cucumber “Sandwiches”
Need a break from bread? Kids are super active and they burn off calories like nothing, but every now and then I like to give my son a break from a carb-heavy meal.
So, I packed him his favorite turkey sandwich, but put the meat between two sliced cucumbers instead.
I spread a tiny bit of herbed mayo across the top layer to add some extra flavor, and I allow the cucumber (which is high in water content) to “dry out” for a few hours prior to making the lunch (so everything doesn’t get watery).
So far, it’s been a crowd pleaser!
7) Banana Boats
Something sweet, savory, and pretty healthy is a banana boat.
I slice two bananas in half and slide some peanut butter or nutella across each.
I sprinkle coconut flakes, oatmeal, raisins and/or slivered almonds across the sticky solution and my son always digs right in. He even has to fend the other kids off at snack time!
Yes, he’s eating something sweet, but the accompaniments are full of protein, iron, and other essentials.
Crafty Recipes has a variation on this that I love!
8) Hummus Pitas
Building up kids’ tolerance to textures can be frustrating, but it doesn’t have to be.
One way I slowly got my son away from bread at lunch time was by putting a hearty dose of hummus inside a pita pocket.
I let him fill it with healthy food accessories of his choice, like lettuce, cucumber, and bean sprouts.
I felt great knowing he was getting a unique, but healthy lunch away from home and that he was willing to try (and like) new things.
Check out this recipe from Five Heart Home for more inspiration!
9) Mini Quinoa Pizza Bites
Introducing your kids to healthy grains like quinoa is wonderful.
You can teach them that grains don’t have to be boring and can be very flavorful (and include some of their most loved flavors as well).
Check out this recipe on Momables blog so you can whip up a batch in just 25 minutes and portion and pack them in everyone’s lunch box.
They pack well, heat well, and can also be enjoyed cold.
10) Apple Slices
Yes, we all know how healthy apple slices are for kids (especially with some Greek yogurt on the side).
But, I often shy away from packing them because my son always complains about how brown and “icky” looking they get.
I learned that you can soak them in a bowl containing four cups of water and a tablespoon of lemon juice for five minutes.
Dry them off, pack them up and voila! No more “icky” and lots of fiber coming your kids’ way.
For another way to prevent your apples from getting brown, check out The Yummy Life.
11) Sandwich Faces
Hative’s blog has some of the cutest lunch box ideas around.
Some of my favorite include sandwich faces. They are not just fun to eat, but contain a variety of healthy ingredients like meats, cheese, and veggies.
You can copy one of their designs to start or end your child’s school year right.
I especially love the owl! You may even get a little creative and adventurous and come up with your own creation!
12) Clean Eating Recipes
Clean eating is the way to go!
Clean Eating Recipes blog is loaded with everything you need to ensure you are not giving your kids anything prepacked and full of preservatives.
Plus, they have all the favorite things kids love, but are just made in a slightly different way.
Check out the Skittles recipe, the baked apple chips, and the site’s version of Cheese Its.
You can make a bunch in a batch and portion it out so your kids have healthy foods all week in the lunch box.
13) Healthy Banana Coconut Muffins
Sweet as Honey’s blog has step by step directions so you can provide your kids with something sweet, but nothing too high in calories or sugar.
The muffins are made with whole wheat and other natural ingredient.
Plus, their sweet tooth will be satisfied, so you can forget about packing that extra money for an ice cream bar for dessert.
And, the best part about these muffins is that they are totally shareable!
14) Spinach Bacon Mini Quiche
These miniature quiche bites are perfect to fit in Bento style lunch boxes.
They have a great taste, and are filled with healthy ingredients that don't just provide your child with vitamins and nutrients,but it keeps them feeling full throughout their day.
In fact, my son barely noticed that spinach was in these bite sized treats as well.
Check out Kleinworth & Co. for even more ideas!
15) Mac and Cheese Bites
Kids love comfort food when they’re away from home. So, make them one of their favorites but go lighter on the cheese and use low fat milk, instead of whole fat.
You can bake a large dish of mac and cheese, and simply portion it out by using an ice cream scooper. Place two scoops inside a portioned container to control the amount they get, leaving lots of room in other compartments for veggies sticks and fresh fruit.
This is a great way to teach your kids about how they can enjoy everything, in moderation—and that all recipes can be modified to be a bit healthier.
Another recipe you can try is over at 5 Dollar Dinners!
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Don’t let your kids be bored or embarrassed of their lunch.
You have it in you to work your creative juices and really amp things up when it comes to packing hearty, healthy, and originally.
These 15 healthy lunch box ideas are sure to put a smile on your kids’ faces and keep their tummies feeling full.
And, you can put a smile on your own face knowing that all of their food is fresh, nutritious, and has been made with lots of love!