I have such an appreciation for moms. Seriously. This whole kid’s lunch thing isn’t easy! And gone are the days where you can throw a good ol’ PB&J sandwich into the bag in a pinch (thank you, nut allergies). Enjoy my 25 Healthy Ideas for School Lunches just in time for back to school.
I must say, I’ve received an overwhelming number of requests for healthy lunch ideas lately. By far the most requests for a single topic that I’ve ever received! Not one to shy away from a challenge, I put my head down and came up with a list of different tips and ideas for healthy kid’s lunches and snacks to help make life a bit easier on the parents!
Tips for Planning School Lunches
- When you think about dinner, keep lunches in mind. It is so easy to make a bit extra at dinner and use the meal, or even part of it, in the lunch. For instance, if you have roasted chicken for dinner, why not use that meat in a sandwich instead of using processed meats?
- If you make pasta sauce, freeze small portions of any extra for lunches in a pinch on top of some pasta. Same thing with taco night, you can freeze extra taco meat (or the veggie meat alternative which tastes nearly identical once dressed up with the spices) and have extra tortillas on hand in the freezer for a quick burrito. Get my drift?
- Make lunch fun – without excess processed foods! I’m all for a treat once in a while, but why not make lunches fun in other ways? Send a little note or some stickers in the lunch kit instead (you can put it in a plastic Easter egg to make it even cuter).
- Use cookie cutters to make cute shapes out of the food: heart shaped cheese or a larger fun cookie cutter for the sandwich are a couple of ideas.
- Use colourful silicone moulds to separate items in bento box style lunches (I love this stainless steel bento box!).
- Buy a Thermos container or similar for packing hot items – leftovers reheated or a cozy thermos of soup makes a perfect lunch! Pour hot water in and let it sit for about 10 minutes, empty and fill with your hot meal to keep to warm for longer. Don’t overfill it; the lunch room monitors will thank you!
- Lean on a meal planning platform like Fraîche Table to take the hassle out of planning and grocery lists with lunches all mapped out for you!
Top 25 School Lunch Ideas
- Fajitas (chicken, beef or tofu)
- Bento Box: filled with fruit, veggies, crackers, cheese, and diced roast chicken
- Egg Salad Wrap with spinach and red pepper on a wholegrain wrap
- Sneaky Mommy Meatballs in a sub
- Pita with Tuna Salad
- Cucumber & Cream Cheese Sandwich
- English Muffin Pizza (toasted English Muffin cheese and pizza sauce) There is a great recipe on Fraîche Table
- Salad Rolls (Tofu, Shrimp or Chicken) (just skip the peanuts and dipping sauce)
- Corn Chowder Soup
- Bean & Cheese Burrito
- Chilli with Cornbread Muffins or Tortilla Chips
- Turkey Meatball Pasta
- Hummus, Pita & Veggies
- Pasta Salad (pasta with tomatoes, basil, mozzarella, red pepper and chicken if desired with a vinaigrette dressing)
- Quiche or even Mini Quiches!
- Whole wheat waffles cut into sticks with Greek yogurt dip
- Chicken Strips (can also be put into a wrap)
- Lentil soup with crackers
- Turkey Roll Ups (sliced turkey meat with cheese, spinach and mustard
- Homemade Butternut Squash Macaroni & Cheese (or this vegan version)
- Leftover Crêpes: rolled up with cheese, spinach and ham
- Tomato Soup & crackers
- Chicken Noodle Soup
- Burger, Chicken Burger or Veggie Burger on a whole wheat bun
- Stir Fry with Tofu or Chicken and Rice
Top 20 School Snack Ideas
- Fruit kebabs (can add cheese or yogurt dip)
- Lunchbox Cookies
- Double Apple Muffins or Sneaky Mommy Muffins
- Omega-3 Double Chocolate Zucchini Loaf made into mini-muffins
- Veggies & dip (try these homemade dips)
- Apple slices & cheese
- Apple slices dusted with cinnamon & Wow or seed butter to dip
- Edamame beans
- Pumpkin Pie Cookies
- Hard boiled eggs
- Greek yogurt with berries (a sprinkle of Homemade Granola wouldn’t hurt)
- Homemade nut-free trail mix (seeds & dried fruit with mini chocolate chips)
- Homemade granola bars
- Roasted Chickpeas
- Chickpea or Black Bean Brownies (love the extra healthy protein in these)
- Guacamole & Whole Grain Tortilla Chips
- Apple Oat No Bake Bars
- Graham Crackers (try your hand at homemade!) with cheese or seed butter
- Healthier Date Bars
- Homemade Applesauce
Fraîche Table is packed with dietitian-designed (by me!) wholesome and delicious recipes and meal plans. Enjoy the flexibility to adjust preferences when you need to, and the comfort of having streamlined grocery lists created to save you time, money, food waste and oodles of headaches. Healthy recipes for breakfast, lunch and dinner recipes are at your fingertips. There are SO many amazing lunches that are great for schools. Here are a few drool worthy images of some of our favourites!
This is great. I don’t even have kids but this is great inspo for some lunch ideas even for adults! Thankyou !
Tori Wesszer says
Do you have a good hummus recipe or chai seed pudding that are kid approved? Can’t wait to try some of the recipes that you have posted above. Thank you!!
I’ve been spoiled this year having both kids at a daycare that provides food (they have a chef!) so this post is getting my creativity flowing! Looking forward to making lunch for my kindergartener this week!
We packed #6 today in a whole grain wrap… The batch of Black Bean Chocolate Mini Muffins I made ahead doubled as a great snack!
Can’t wait to try some of these yummy ideas!!
Such great ideas! I have 4 in elementary school this year and the lunch struggle is real! We do a lot of leftovers…a favorite of the kids is taco salad:) a favorite snack is pumpkin seeds and chocolate chip’s. Thank you for the wonderfully inspiring suggestions.
Mira Tuepah says
This is great! So many awesome ideas! My daughter is 6 and will be starting grade 1 next week and it’s funny since just before I read this we sat down and made a list of good lunch options — many of the same ideas! Though, there are some here I can add to her list 🙂
Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
This is so helpful and very much appreciated. You have saved this Mama some stress this back to school season that’s for sure 💕
I see many are warm lunches…can I ask what thermos or method you use to keep them warm?
Tori Wesszer says
Hi Mandy! I use the small Thermos containers I got mine at London Drugs!
Just don’t put the lid on too tight once packed with hot foods. It sometimes seals up can be too tough for even us Educators to open 🙁
Tori W. says
Great tip Erin!! Thanks 🙂
I really love your article!! Surely, these healthy food ideas will help me in preparing meals for my kids!!!
When you send things like Burritos or fajitas do you send it warm in the thermos somehow or do they just eat it cold?
We send things in a thermos!
Can’t wait to try these once my son starts JK in September!
Chrissy Botterill says
These all look super delicious and I must say, we are obsessed with this stainless steel bento box from The Good Kiind! We got ours about a month ago and have been using it for snack trays on the god to parks and beaches and I just can’t wait to really get using it this fall when the kids head back to school.
So many great lunch and snack ideas!! I personally love The Good Kiind lunch boxes. The compartments are perfectly sized and the quality is amazing! This post has inspired me with so many more great ideas to fill my Good Kiind lunch boxes! Thank you 🙂
Tori W. says
I totally agree! Such a good lunch box. So happy to hear this post inspired you. xx Tori
A great way to pack healthy lunches in little human portions is @bethegoodkiind! Love their lunch boxes.
Tori W. says
Thanks so much Magan!!
Melita Cyril says
This is so helpful! Thank you and I love the Good Kiind lunch boxes.
Love these ideas….lunch making can be such a pain but i secretly love it – till October comes lol. This bento looks pretty cool, I want one for me, lol!
Tori Wesszer says
Thanks Courtney, and I agree!