Lunch Box Ideas: Looking for easy ideas for lunch boxes? Mix and Match ingredients from a Lunch Box Planner to make over 50 wholesome lunch combinations that kids are sure to enjoy.
I absolutely love Back-to-School shopping. The smell of the sharpened pencils, the crisp notebooks, and the excitement of the new year puts a huge smile on my face. I get giddy for the new box of crayons and organizing pencil boxes. I guess it is the former teacher in me.
But even while having great choices on hand, I do not get giddy 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 ya. And I used to dread packing lunches as much as my kids dread homework. But I have learned how to make packing lunches easier for myself through the years.
Tips for Packing School Lunches
Pack Lunch the Night Before
First of all, I enlist the kids’ help to pack their own lunches for the following day as we clean up from dinner the night before. Packing lunch immediately after dinner is key for several reasons.
- We eliminate the morning rush.
- We can utilize leftovers.
- Allowing the kids to help pack their lunches ensures that will actually eat their lunch!
Let Kids Choose the Ingredients for their Lunch
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 from a Lunch Box Planner.
This Lunch Box Planner, gives your children wholesome options to choose from so they can have a balanced meal.
Print the Lunch Box Planner HERE, to hang on your refrigerator or place in your pantry for easy reference.
This Lunch Box Graphic helps my children learn that all meals, including lunches must be balanced with protein, carbs, fruits and vegetables. They know they must have at least one source of protein, one whole grain carbohydrate, a fruit, and a vegetable for mom to give it a go. And of course this list is limited on choice, but it give the kids great guidance to start packing a balanced lunch.
Keys to a Balanced Lunch
In order to have a wholesome, balanced school lunch, you want to make sure your child has a protein, fruit, veggies, and a carbohydrate.
The Lunch Box Planner provided, gives general suggestions for each category, but let’s break these options down a bit further.
Healthy Protein Options for School Lunches
Protein can be found in:
- Meat (deli slices, sausage, leftover chicken, beef, or pork)
- Cottage Cheese
- Yogurt (Greek Yogurt has highest amount of protein)
- Hard Boiled Eggs
Healthy Fruit and Veggie Options for School Lunches
Including a fruit and vegetable in each school lunch is so important. Be sure to let your child choose their favorites so you know they will eat them. Even serve up Peanut Butter Chocolate Dip for the fruit or Homemade Ranch Dip.
- Freeze Dried Fruit
- Pepper Slices
- Baby Tomatoes
- Snap Peas
- Snap Pea Crisps
- Roasted Edamame
Healthy Carbohydrate Options for School Lunches
Carbs always seem to be an easy choice for kids (and adults). Try to encourage as many whole wheat/whole grain carbs as possible. Feel free to use gluten-free substitutes if needed.
- Whole Wheat Bread
- Whole Grain Crackers
- Tortilla Chips
- Whole Wheat Pitas
- Whole Wheat Bagels
- Whole Wheat English Muffins
- Whole Grain Pretzels
- Brown Rice
Healthy Lunch Box Ideas for Kids
Here are a few of my favorite kid-friendly recipes that I love to include in lunches. These healthy recipes get five stars from the kids!
- Southwestern Veggie Tostadas (carbohydrate, protein, and veggies)
- Peanut Butter and Jelly Baked Oatmeal Muffins (carbohydrate and protein)
- 2 Ingredient Homemade Gogurts (fruit and protein)
- Homemade Larabars (fruit and protein)
- Mac and Cheese Muffins with Hidden Veggies (carbohydrates, protein, and veggies)
- Easy Bean Burritos with Hidden Veggies (carbohydrate, protein, and veggies)
- Corn Dog Muffins (carbohydrate and protein)
- Skinny Double Chocolate Zucchini Muffins (carbohydrate and veggies)
- Healthy Carrot Cake Muffins (carbohydrate and veggies)
- Blueberry Muffins (carbohydrate and fruit)
- Sweet Chili Lime Rice Bowl with Mango and Edamame (carbohydrate, protein, fruit and veggies)
- Carrot and Raisin Salad (fruit and veggies)
- DIY Butterfly Snack Bags (carbohydrate, fruit and protein)
- Vegan Sweet Potato Black Bean Burritos (carbohydrates, protein, and veggies)
- Hidden Veggie Quesadillas (carbohydrates, protein, and veggies)
- Ranch Veggie Wrap (carbohydrates, protein, and veggies)
- Ham and Cheese Hot Pockets (carbohydrates and protein)
Remember to Print the Lunch Box Planner HERE, to hang on your refrigerator or place in your pantry for easy reference.