The school year started this morning for my kiddos and they couldn’t be more excited.
Jordan is starting in first grade this year and Savannah is a big ol’ pre-kindergartner and is feeling so big and so proud to be attending the same “big girl school” as her sister.
And, with school starting, that means it’s time to start planning out the kids lunches and making sure we have what we need to send them off to school with nutritious, healthy lunches I can feel good about and they will love.
So, what are good healthy kids lunch ideas? Well, in order to plan that out, let’s break down what makes up a well-balanced and nutritious kids lunch.
What’s In A Healthy Kids Lunch?
Protein is particularly important for children and adolescents who are growing since it’s what makes up all of our organs, including the skin, muscles, hair, and nails. Protein comes from meat, fish, beans, eggs, dairy, and nuts.
Great Protein Ideas For Healthy Kids Lunches
- low-sodium sliced deli meat
- lightly salted, roasted nuts (almonds, walnuts, peanuts, and cashews, etc.)
- peanut butter (try this homemade peanut butter)
- low-fat cottage cheese
- greek yogurt
- hard-boiled egg
Vegetables of any kind are great to add to healthy kids lunches because they provide a fresh, whole food and also contain fiber and complex carbohydrates which are great for active little bodies. They’re also very easy to pack in kids lunches since they can be eaten cooked or raw and can be easily served cold.
Great Vegetable Ideas For Healthy Kids Lunches
- carrot sticks or shredded carrot
- broccoli florets, raw or cooked
- cucumber spears or ribbons
- sweet potatoes – roasted, chips, or mashed
- cherry tomatoes
- green beans, raw or cooked
- sugar snap peas
Like vegetables, fruits have tons of nutrients and fiber and make up a great part of a healthy kids lunch. They’re also sweet so kids love eating them without any trouble. Plus, it’s a good idea for kiddos to get their fruit in whole, raw form versus being processed and juiced because it helps fill them up and is lower in sugar. If you have small children, make sure to consider safety and slice the grapes or remove the pits from stone fruits. Kids will love being able to grab a sliced peach anyways.
Great Fruit Ideas For Healthy Kids Lunches
- sliced melon (cantaloupe, watermelon, and honeydew)
- cherries, pitted
- grapes (sliced if for youngsters)
- peaches, sliced
- nectarines, sliced
- plums, sliced
- oranges, peeled
Yes, everyone loves a little treat here and there. I like to get a little sneaky with treats and offer the kids greek yogurt-covered raisins, dried apple chips, or dark chocolate-covered almonds. The kids think they are getting something really special and sweet, but it’s actually not that bad for them and keeps them from becoming dependent on highly processed, unhealthy sugars, like fruit snacks or Doritos. I also will throw in a second fruit sometimes or a baked good we make together that I know is relatively healthy.
Great Small Treat Ideas For Healthy Kids Lunches
- chocolate-covered almonds
- greek yogurt-covered pretzels
- dark chocolate morsels
- homemade cookies (sub all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour, honey or coconut sugar for granulated sugar, and unsweetened applesauce for oils)
- other healthy homemade baked goods (try this healthy chocolate zucchini bread)
- apple chips
A Note On Wild Cards & Love Notes
Like small treats, adding a little special flair to your child’s lunch time will make a big impression. I recommend keeping some simple post-it notes and stickers on hand. These “love notes” are a simple way to show your child you were thinking about him/her and that he or she is special. Even writing something as simple as I love you,” “Have a great day,” “Enjoy your lunch!” or “See you soon!” are great ideas.
Want more help with making healthy kids lunches?
The good news is that it’s totally possible to provide delicious, healthy, well-balanced lunches for your child AND for them to enjoy what they’re eating when they’re at school.
Check out my guide on Healthy Kids Lunch Makeover and learn everything you need to know to accomplish this. I’ve gone through all the work and research so you don’t have to!
My eBook on Healthy Kid’s Lunch Makeover will show you everything you need to know to finally feel good about what your child is eating at school.
This guide contains…
- 15 unique and healthy lunchbox examples (with large photos)
- tips for how to get your child involved in lunchtime
- the anatomy of what makes a good lunch
- advice for picky eaters
- nutrition and dietary recommendations for children
- recipes for anything listed in a lunchbox
- my favorite lunchbox products (with links!)
Every lunchbox in this makeover contains whole, unprocessed foods that are low in sodium, sugar, and fat. The lunches are designed to provide nutritious and well-balanced parts that make up a satisfying and healthy meal for your child. Every lunch contains at least one serving of protein, vegetables, and fruit. It’s all you need to get started right now!
To learn more about my eBook, click here.