Looking for easy and healthy lunches for kids? This is the ultimate list of healthy lunches--that are also SUPER easy to make. And most importantly, these healthy lunch ideas are kid-approved! That means you can feel good about what your children are eating for lunch and know that they will be enjoying every last bite--instead of tossing it into the trash!
Grab the kid-friendly lunch ideas below and also be sure to print off the free Lunch Box Planner that helps your kids independently mix and match ingredients to make over 50 wholesome lunch combinations!
While I absolutely love the start of the school year, as I get giddy for the new box of crayons and organizing pencil boxes, I do NOT get excited about packing school lunches.
I bet many of you parents understand!
You want your child to eat a balanced lunch, but you don't want to take the time to pack one. Or you fear you will go to the effort of packing a homemade school lunch, only for your child not to eat the lunch.
I hear you! And I used to dread packing lunches as much as my kids dread homework. But I have learned how to make healthy lunches my kids actually enjoy, and they are picky, and the process much easier for myself through the years.
My #1 Tip for Packing Healthy Lunches
Let your kids choose their lunch.
If your child gets to choose what they are eating, they are more likely to actually eat it. And less likely for those veggies to come back home in their lunchbox or wind up in the trash.
I know, I know, you are fearful that if you let your child pack their school lunch, they may end up with a brownie and some potato chips.
Eliminate that fear by having your children mix and match ingredients with my Lunch Box Planner.
This Lunch Box Graphic is designed so that your child selects 1 protein, 1 whole-grain, 1 fruit, and 1 vegetable. It is a great way to ensure your children have a BALANCED lunch.
It also teaches them to make wise choices on their own, while learning that meals should be balanced.
Simply Print the Lunch Box Planner HERE, and hang on your refrigerator, or place in your pantry for easy reference. And then let your child help you pack their lunches using this list as a guide. This list is limited in options, but it is a great starting point. Feel free to add your favorites to the list!
And don't worry, while I left off treats from the graphic, I LOVE adding in a sweet treat and have included some of my favorite healthier dessert options below that pack perfectly in lunches.
Healthy Lunch Box Ideas for Kids
Here are a few of my favorite kid-friendly lunch recipes that pack well in lunch boxes, help meet the nutritional needs of growing kids, and have been approved by my VERY picky kids!
English Muffin Pizzas: Make a large batch to meal prep for school lunches, or put an English muffin, a container of pizza sauce, and shredded cheese in your child's lunch and they have their own Pizza Lunchable! Add in some veggies and fresh fruit and watch your kids get excited about lunchtime!
Southwestern Veggie Tostadas: This tostada is like a mini Mexican Pizza and is so fun for kids to make and eat! It checks off a whole grain from the tortilla, vegetables from the toppings, and protein from the refried beans. Serve with a side of fruit for a lunch is perfectly balanced!
Peanut Butter and Jelly Muffins: These little PB&J Muffins are SO fun for school lunch. They are made with whole grains (oats), fruit (banana and all fruit jelly), and loaded with protein from the eggs, milk, and peanut butter. I love making a huge batch and freezing. These muffins defrost in the lunchbox and are ready for lunch. Add in some vegetables with Homemade Ranch Dip and check off all the boxes!
Mac and Cheese Muffins: I took my daughter's favorite Macaroni and Cheese recipe and turned it into a portable muffin that is loaded with veggies and packs well in school lunches. These muffins have carbohydrates, veggies, and protein and kids LOVE them! They freeze great and can be served warm and packed in thermos or cold. Add in a fruit cup and lunch is done!
Easy Bean Burritos: Bean burritos are SUPER easy to make and freeze well, plus this recipe also shows you a trick also show you a trick on how to get in a few extra veggies into your kids! Add in yogurt and some fruit, and talk about a balanced meal!
Ranch Veggie Wrap: What kid does not like to dip their veggies into ranch dressing? This easy wrap puts the veggies and ranch right into a handheld wrap and provides them with vegetables, whole grains, and calcium.
DIY Butterfly Snack Bags: Not only are these Snack Bags fun, but they are also customizable. I like to pack them with fruit and peanut butter crackers and a cheese stick with a side of carrot sticks for a perfectly balanced meal.
Ham and Cheese Hot Pockets: These homemade hot pockets make a great option for a school lunch box, and they are easy to prep in bulk and freeze to use for lunches and defrost perfectly before lunch. Serve with a Gogurt, snap pea crisps, and a fruit cup.
Turkey Club Wrap: Turkey, bacon, lettuce, and tomato, all wrapped up for a delicious lunch that features whole grains, veggies, and a protein. YUM! Add in some berries and a sweet treat, and lunch is good to go!
Hidden Veggie Quesadillas: Veggies in a cheese quesadilla? Trust me, it works and the KIDS love it!
Healthy Dips: Including fruits and vegetables in each lunch is so important. Be sure to let your child choose their favorites so you know they will eat them. And serve up Peanut Butter Chocolate Dip for the fruit or Homemade Ranch Dip to encourage that produce to disappear!
Homemade Granola Bar: Made with whole grains, nut butter, and dates, these bars are a sweet treat that also has the added benefit of being full of whole grains, fruit, and protein. These are one of my kids' favorite no-bake treats.
Homemade Gogurts: Save money and make yogurt tubes that actually feature real FRUIT, not just fruit flavoring. These simple treats are a great way to get a huge dose of protein as well. Stash them in the freezer and then pull one out to pop in the lunchbox in the morning and they will defrost by lunch. It is a great way to add some calcium and fruit to lunch.
Homemade Larabars: These simple homemade fruit and nut bars are a great way to get in a serving of fruit and protein--not to mention the homemade version is SO much cheaper, plus they taste like a dessert!
Homemade Fruit Roll-Ups: Super easy to make and super fun to eat, these homemade fruit roll-ups are a great way to enjoy fruit!
Homemade Cheese Crackers: So much better than what you get in a box! These crackers are perfect to add to your child's lunch for a serving of whole grains or just a yummy snack.
Remember to Print the Lunch Box Planner HERE, to hang on your refrigerator or place in your pantry for easy reference.