List Of Healthy Lunch Ideas For Kids
List of Healthy Lunch Ideas & Snack Choices for Kids
Planning and preparing a kid’s school lunch can be challenging. As parents, we try to select healthy foods they know their child should eat. Children crave a fun lunch that tastes great. Harmony can and does exist – kid–friendly lunch ideas for school (or remote learning) can be healthy, quick and easy.
Start with composing a quick list of the delicious things your child absolutely loves to eat and separate these items into five categories: Proteins, Fruits, Vegetables, Grains and Snacks.
Once you have this starting point complete, it will be easy to select an item from each group – or mix and match as desired. As a bonus, your grocery shopping will be much simpler with this customized and simple guide for creating your kids’ healthy school lunches and snacks.
Easy Lunch Ideas for Kids
One challenge when creating healthy lunch ideas for kids is simply getting started. Use these options as a starting point to find the best options for you and your child(ren) to create easy school lunches they’ll love.
As we know, protein is vital and can be found in a variety of foods. When choosing protein options for your child, consider vegetarian sources as well as creative ways to repurpose last night’s leftovers. Healthy lunch ideas for kids can be found right in your own kitchen or pantry.
- Chicken patties or nuggets
- Cottage cheese
- Cream cheese
- Cubed hard cheeses
- Cubes of ham or turkey
- Grilled chicken
- Grilled turkey
- Hard-boiled eggs
- Hummus or bean dip
- Meatballs (including veggie, beef, turkey or chicken)
- Nut spreads or nut butters
- Pepperoni or salami
- Pulled pork (recipe below)
- Quiche or frittata
- Shredded chicken
- Shredded turkey
- Sliced deli meats
- Sliced or shredded beef
While some children simply love sweet, juicy, fresh fruit – for others, it can be a challenge to find ways to include this food group in a healthy school lunch. Some ideas to consider: try cutting the fruit into bite–sized pieces or fun shapes. If using prepackaged fruit, check the label for added sugars and artificial ingredients. Consider fruit smoothies if fresh fruit is not your child’s favorite.
- Cantaloupe cubes
- Honeydew melon chunks
- Mango slices
- Pitted cherries
- Sliced peaches
- Sliced pears
- Watermelon slices or chunks
- Home-made fruit smoothies (recipe below)
Ah, veggies. We try to sneak them in wherever we can, but actually, some raw crunchy vegetables are a wonderful lunch snack for kids. Try serving with a side of Ranch dressing or a favorite dip.
- Bell peppers (of all colors)
- Black beans
- Cherry or grape tomatoes
- Garbanzo beans
- Green beans
- Kale chips (recipe below)
- Sugar snap peas
- Sweet potatoes
- Veggie nuggets (recipe below)
Choose a type of grain that fits your child’s dietary needs (e.g., gluten-free, vegan or multigrain). Many choices are available ready-made, and plenty of great recipes can be found online.
- Bread slices
- Brown rice
- Corn or wheat tortillas
- Crescent rolls
- Mini bagels
- Pitas and mini pitas
- Rice cakes
- Slider buns
It may be tempting to eliminate this category but having a portioned–controlled, and parent–approved snack or treat can certainly be included in a fun and healthy kid’s school lunch.
- Baked chips
- Cheese crackers (in fun shapes)
- Chocolate chips
- Chocolate milk
- Crispy cereal bars
- Dry cereal
- Fruits dipped in chocolate
- Graham crackers
- Granola bars
- Hazelnut spread (like Nutella)
- Individual dip cups or salad dressing
- Mini marshmallows
- Packaged fruit cups
- Puffed snacks
- Trail mix
Go ahead and make the lunch fancy if you’d like to. Use cute cupcake and muffin liners as dividers, consider divided containers or bento boxes. Or simply use reusable food storage bags placed into a lunch bag or box with ice cool packs.
Create Simple, Fun & Healthy Meals for Kids
Once you have chosen items you know your child will be happy to find in their school lunch, consider some creative touches for pulling it all together. Putting these tasty and quick lunch ideas together for kids only takes a few minutes once everything is prepped.
- Roll sliced ham and cheese in a wrap then slice into disks. Pack the lunchbox with a few cubes of watermelon and fish–shaped cheddar crackers.
- Wrap a chicken patty or some veggie nuggets in lettuce, serve with a few berries and a salad dressing cup for dipping.
- Thinly–sliced cucumber or lettuce or cabbage leaves can substitute for bread in a sandwich. Consider alternating cheese and pepperoni slices. Include a banana and some puffed corn snacks.
- Meatballs can be made with brown rice as a binder instead of breadcrumbs for a gluten-free option. Pack them up with some barbeque sauce, spears of bell peppers, pear slices, and a favorite cookie.
- Hummus with pita makes for fun dipping. Just add some carrots and pretzels to complete the theme.
- A mini bagel with cream cheese can be topped with fruit and served with a side of sweet snap peas and a couple of graham crackers for crunch.
- A pulled pork slider, a fruit smoothie and a small portion of kale chips truly sounds like a well-rounded meal.
Easy Lunch Recipes for Kids
- 1 pork roast (shoulder cut with bone)
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Your favorite barbecue sauce
- Pre-heat oven to 300° F or use a slow cooker.
- Season pork roast and place it in a covered oven–safe roasting pan.
- Cook for about 6 hours, or until tender.
- Remove the pork from the pan and shred with two forks in a large mixing bowl.
- Mix in enough barbecue sauce for the pork to be evenly coated.
- Serve on slider buns.
- 1 bunch of kale, washed and dried
- Sprinkle of kosher salt
- 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- Preheat the oven to 350° F.
- Remove stalks from the kale leaves.
- Toss kale leaves in a large mixing bowl with olive oil.
- Spread kale in one even layer on a cookie sheet or roasting pan.
- Sprinkle with kosher salt.
- Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the kale is dehydrated and slightly brown around the edges.
- 1/2 cup each boiled or steamed tender carrots, broccoli, and cauliflower, cooled
- 1/4 cup of breadcrumbs for filling, plus extra for dipping formed nuggets
- 1 large egg
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Vegetable oil for frying
- Combine vegetables, 1/4 cup breadcrumbs, salt and pepper.
- Use a tablespoon or small cookie scoop to portion out veggie mixture into a ball, then flatten into a nugget shape.
- Coat nuggets with more breadcrumbs.
- Fry nuggets until golden brown or use an air fryer.
- Drain and cool.
- Nuggets can also be baked in a traditional oven at 400° F for about 15 minutes.
- 1 cup of milk (dairy or non-dairy, whichever your child normally drinks)
- 1 small banana
- 1/2 cup of fresh or frozen fruit your child enjoys (one or a combo)
Keep in mind, children like what they like, and if that means this week they aren’t eating anything green, go to your list and find some other color options to create healthy lunch snacks. If your child has allergies, eliminate those items, of course, and find a suitable substitute.
Preschool lunch ideas, kindergarten lunchbox ideas, and even healthy, easy lunches for elementary school kids can be a breeze to put together, ensuring they eat right, even when they’re out of your sight. Here’s a tip that may put your mind at ease: think of the nutrition your child needs over the course of a week rather than attempting to reach that goal each day.