5 Healthy Lunch Ideas for Kids

image of little girl being fed lunch by her mom

Although it can be a challenge, it’s important to help your kids practice healthy eating habits at home and at school.

Explore this Guide:

 

The more healthy foods you can encourage your kids to eat, the better their health will be.

 

Lunch is a great time to pack a healthy lunch box for your kids.

 

Even if you’re at home, it can help your day go by more smoothly if you pack your kid’s lunch box the night before. Then, a healthy lunch is already taken care of to help the middle of your day go well.

 

With some fun healthy lunch ideas for kids you can pack all kinds of exciting new lunch box ideas that also give your kids the nutrients they need.

 

Food Groups

 

Every kid needs parts of the 5 essential food groups each day to stay healthy, happy, and strong.

 

The 5 main food groups include:

  1. Fruits
  2. Vegetables
  3. Grains
  4. Proteins
  5. Dairy

 

Lunch is the perfect meal in the day to get creative about including all 5 food groups into one plate or bento style lunch.

 

Bento box lunch ideas can include a grain with a sandwich, dairy with some stringed cheese, a side of chopped up fruits and veggies, and some protein with the cheese and with some peanut butter dip for the veggie sticks.

 

Idea #1: Sandwiches and Wraps

peanut butter and jelly sandwich

 

The number one healthy lunch idea for kids is a sandwich, wrap, or burrito. Sandwiches are an easy and versatile lunch option.

 

A simple peanut butter and jelly sandwich can get your kids a healthy source of grains in the bread, protein in the peanut butter, and a little fruit in the jelly.

 

But PB&Js aren’t the only kind of sandwich you can make.

 

BLT Sandwich: bacon, lettuce, and tomato

 

Club Sandwich: bacon, lettuce, tomato, and turkey

 

Reuben: corned beef, swiss cheese, sauerkraut, russian dressing, and rye bread

 

Grilled Cheese Sandwich: bread, butter, and cheese, grilled on the stovetop (for a fancier grilled cheese add turkey, ham, or tomato)

 

Cuban Sandwich: ham, roasted pork, swiss cheese, pickles, salami, and mustard on cuban bread.

 

Chicken Salad: shredded chicken breast, chopped hardboiled eggs, chopped celery, chopped grapes, and mayonnaise.

 

Breakfast Sandwich: egg, cheese, and breakfast meat (bacon, sausage, or ham)

 

Let inspiration guide you and make your kids sandwiches full of healthy hidden foods like leafy greens and vegetables.

 

Wraps and burritos are another sandwich variant that can be easier for your kids to eat. You can also hide healthy foods in wraps a lot easier than you can an open sandwich.

 

They key to getting your kids excited about healthy foods is to give them a variety. Try some of these unique sandwich ideas to make the simplest sandwich irresistible to your kids.

  • Use 100% whole wheat tortillas for wraps. Take note that tortillas come with many different ingredients. Check the labels before you buy and find the healthiest option.
  • Use a 100% whole wheat Pita Pockets as your bread. Kids will love stuffing a pocket full of bread for a pocket sandwich.
  • Make a diverse lettuce blend with different vegetables (like carrots, cucumbers) and different types of leafy greens (like cabbage, spinach, kale).
  • Buy a whole block of cheese and slice it at home. You’ll save a lot of money and find blocks of cheese with way less additives.
  • Cut the sandwiches into any fun shape with a cookie cutter.
  • Use a grilled chicken breast in place of lunchmeat.
  • Cut carbs and make a lettuce wrapped sandwich in place of the bread.

 

Idea #2: Dinner Leftovers for Lunch

leftover dinner

 

Get more done in less time by making a little extra for dinner each night. That way, dinner from the night before can double as lunch the following day.

 

Make sure you pack your leftover lunches in food safe tupperware inside the fridge to keep everything fresh and yummy for tomorrow.

 

You can even create an awesome bento lunch box with divided food storage containers designed for box lunches.

 

Leftovers make great lunch box ideas for teens and for toddler lunch box ideas.

 

You can also make the packed lunch of leftovers unique from dinner the night before by dressing it up differently or adding new sides like boiled eggs, cherry tomatoes, and other healthy snacks.

 

You could even add a refreshing, light dessert with the leftover lunch like dark chocolate, chocolate chips, or strawberries.

 

Idea #3: Healthy Lunch Snacks

healthy snacks

 

Let your kids have fun with their lunch!

 

You can easily make a lunch fun and healthy by adding colorful, healthy snacks and dips. Healthy snacks are also easy to mix and match vegetables, fruits, and dairies.

 

Read more about healthy snacking in “Healthy Snacks.”

 

Consider these great lunch snack combinations:

  • Apple or pear slices with peanut butter or low-fat yogurt
  • Celery sticks, carrot sticks, or broccoli with hummus, homemade bean dip, or a fresh salsa
  • Whole grain, low-sodium crackers
  • Mixed nuts or granola in some healthy yogurt
  • Cup of mixed fruits
  • Cubes of cheese, whole grain crackers, and grapes

 

Idea #4: Healthy Alternatives to Sugary Snacks

healthy sweets

 

Many kids love sweets.

 

But sweets can be really bad for your kid’s teeth, blood sugar levels, and overall physical health.

 

Not to mention, too much sugar can make your kids hyper, sugar crash, and get moody throughout the day.

 

You don’t have to keep sweets from your kids to be healthy though. Just find healthy alternatives that happen to be sweet as well.

 

Substitute sugary snacks for fruits and yogurts to allow your kids to still have the sweetness they love.

 

Instead of a chocolate bar, give them apples, grapes, or oranges. Instead of a bowl of ice cream make them a yogurt parfait with mixed berries or make some healthy fruit ice cream out of frozen, blended bananas.

 

Idea #5: Bento Box Lunch Ideas

wraps in a meal prep container

 

Some of the best healthy lunch box ideas are bento box combinations.

 

A bento or divided tupperware combination can give your kids a healthy, diverse, and exciting new lunch each day.

 

Get yourself someone handy bento lunch boxes or divided tupperware sets. Then you can easily meal prep lunches for the week all at once if you want.

 

Not only that, the bento box setup lets you pack several different kinds of foods in one lunch. This lets you add several healthy food groups into one well rounded meal.

 

Lunch Box Note Ideas

 

Help your kids have a great school year by leaving lunch notes in their lunch box each day.

 

A little cheery love note for your kid can really brighten their day at school. It’ll remind them that you love them and that this lunch was packed with care.

 

You can find free printables for lunch box notes online. Feel free to download these lunch box notecards and fill them with your own loving lunch box notes.

 

Then right your own special note!

 

Here are a few lunch box note ideas to get you started if you’re stuck on what to write:

  • Keep up the great work!
  • Always be kind to others
  • Make today a great day
  • I am so proud of you
  • Have a great lunch!
  • Never give up on your dreams
  • Make someone smile today
  • You are my sunshine
  • I hope you have a wonderful day

 

In Conclusion,

 

A really good way to get your kids to eat healthy is if you’re eating healthy along with them.

 

If your meals are delicious and healthy at home, then your kids will be used to eating this way whether they are at school or at home, eating lunch or eating dinner.

 

Let your kids pack their own lunches alongside you as you pack your lunch for tomorrow too.

 

That way they can see an example of someone who also eats a healthy lunch like them, and you’ll have your own healthy lunch ready for tomorrow too!


Sources


NIH.gov. “Know Your Food Groups.”

HealthyChildren.org. “The American Academy of Pediatrics Parenting Website.”

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