Your Personal Meal Planning Assistant
September 26, 2016 / Nicole Villeneuve

Healthy Lunchbox Ideas for Kids

Breakfast bento with English muffin

Let’s face it: when we were in school, lunchtime was always our favorite class. Besides being a welcome break, a healthy lunch also fuels kids for the rest of the day.  An afternoon of learning is way more challenging with a system full of sugar and processed food.

A balanced meal incorporating carbohydrates, protein and fat from whole foods is always going to be your best bet for healthy school lunches no matter how you slice it. Fuel your little one for learning (and add a little surprising twist for an interesting take on midday munchies) with some of our favorite healthy lunchbox ideas for kids.

Want ideas for packable office lunches? Try here and here!

Deconstructed sandwiches

Have a picky little one who doesn’t like their foods to touch? Pack all the fixings for a sandwich - separately – like sliced roasted meat, sliced cheese, crunchy veggies and a dip (like hummus) and a fun bread, like sliced baguette or lavash. It’s balanced and fun to put together… or eat one item at a time.

Rice bowl

Combine cooked rice – or any other grain your kiddo enjoys – with some chewy, nutrient-dense additions. Consider things like unsweetened dried cranberries, roasted squash or sweet potato and chunks of their favorite (leftover) protein like tempeh, chicken or turkey.

Breakfast for lunch

Who says yogurt and granola are only good first thing in the morning? Pack a homemade or low-sugar granola with a full-fat yogurt, a handful of berries, an apple and a few teaspoons of nuts or seeds (pumpkin or sunflower are great protein-packed options and tend to be okay on the allergen list).

Pasta salad

Mix up a quick batch of a comfort food favorite by combining cooked whole wheat macaroni with mayo, chunked tuna, diced red and green peppers and a dash of lemon. If your kids like greens, include some romaine leaves (ribs removed) for them to wrap up the filling like a burrito. Otherwise, pasta salad on its own is great anytime of year.

Mexican-inspired feast

Make lunchtime feel like a mini vacation with a simple homemade black bean soup (cook down some canned black beans with a vegetable broth and chili powder in the slow cooker overnight). It’s good hot or cold, so no worries if your little one’s school is without a microwave (or they’re too little to heat up lunch on their own). Pair soup with crispy tortilla chips, guacamole and salsa.

Kid’s appetizer platter

Sometimes snacks make the best lunches. Pack up a hard-boiled egg, a couple of your favorite cheeses, crackers, grapes and dried fruit, along with a scoop of leftovers (like cooked veggies or  a protein).

Nicole Villeneuve

Nicole Villeneuve is a certified Diabetes Prevention Lifestyle Coach. A graduate of Yale University, she previously worked in book publishing, with a focus on cookbooks and health, and ran the food blog Paper and Salt. Her writing has been featured in Bon Appetit, Food & Wine, The New York Times Magazine, The Paris Review, and The Daily Beast. Nicole lives in San Francisco and loves cooking, reading, exploring new restaurants, and running by the ocean. You can (very occasionally) find her on Twitter.

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