10 Healthy Lunch Box Ideas: No Sandwiches Allowed

by tinysneakers

Looking for a healthy, balanced yet tasty school lunch box ideas for your kid? Don’t worry! Here are 10 healthy lunches for kids you and your little ones can feel good about.

lunchbox ideas

I’m a dietitian. I have a kid. You’d think it’d be easy to pack kid lunches then, right?

Not for me. My son is starting his second year of part-time preschool. Although I’m having trouble believing it, he’ll be in the Toddler Room this year. Not only does that mean my son is growing up too fast, but it also means I have to pack him a lunch. A real “big kid” lunch, not a collection of chopped-up finger foods and purees in an assortment of tiny boxes and bowls like I got away with last year.

I never thought I’d have to pack school lunches so early into parenthood! Just the thought stresses me out. I want him to have a variety of foods, but balanced meals — and brainstorming ideas that check those boxes can be tough. Despite trying to do my best, I always felt like I was being judged as a parent by what food my son came to school with. Where’s the protein? Why no veggies? Where’s the oatmeal? That’s not enough milk! Last year was a daily last-minute scramble for odds and ends I thought passed for a good enough meal I could throw in individual serving-size containers. Not only is that boring, but it’s not allowed this year. Single lunch boxes only!

I’m determined not to let packing a healthy lunch for school be a stressor this year. Instead, I’ve perfected my methods over this long hot summer, and I’ve practically got it down to a science!

You can see examples of some of the lunches I’ve put together. Add your suggestion in the comments so I don’t get stuck in a rut — it’s a long school year!

In the meantime, here are 4 tips I’ve picked up along the way:

  • Pick the right container. I typically use a generic plastic resealable container divided into three sections or a box that has three different compartments and folds itself. Bento boxes would be fun too. Be sure they’re BPA-free and are microwavable and freezable {if you think you’ll be doing that}. Here are some of our faves –> lunchbox supplies
  • Go for convenience. You don’t have to whip up a gourmet meal to satisfy both your kid and your nutrition requirements. If it means a granola bar or a snack cup, so be it. My only rule is if he gets it for lunch he can’t have it for snack later.
  • Mix it up. It doesn’t matter if certain things “go” with each other. Kids don’t care! Graham crackers and pizza? Tacos and blueberries? Why not?
  • Maximize leftovers. We eat dinner after my son goes to bed, so he doesn’t typically have the same dinner as us. That doesn’t mean I can’t still use leftovers in his lunch. They don’t have to be “lunch-y”— just yummy!

Oh, and if these lunches look like they’re missing something, it’s because we’re an allergy family. Adding cheese cubes, yogurt tubes, or string cheese could round out the lunches a little.

10 Healthy Lunchbox Ideas with NO Sandwiches!

Taco Loco

healthy school lunch idea

What’s inside:

Chicken, corn, and black bean soft taco, almond milk yogurt, zucchini fries and sweet potato coins, gluten-free crackers.

Sticky notes: I cheated on this one. It’s a leftover taco from a kids-eat-free day at a Mexican restaurant. I won’t tell if you don’t.

Pizza Pizzazz

healthy lunch ideas

What’s inside:

Leftover cheese-free veggie pizza, allergy-free granola bar, hardboiled egg, sweet potato fries with cumin and garam marsala, strawberries.

Sticky notes: I like to keep granola bars on hand because they’re an easy, no-fuss snack for my son to eat on his own without making a mess. I usually reserve them for home, but every once in a while I’ll part with one and send it to school with him.

Roll Ups

lunch ideas for kids

What’s inside:

Low-sodium turkey roll ups, sweet potato rounds with cinnamon and chili powder, apple-cinnamon graham crackers, fruit+veg pouch.

Sticky notes: What is it that makes toddlers so obsessed with fruit pouches?! They’re like gold in my house. Better than gold!

Bits & Pieces

healthy school lunch snack plate

What’s inside:

Pineapple and mango fruit cup, gluten-free crackers, carrot sticks, turkey roll up, hardboiled egg.

Sticky notes: Using a pre-packed fruit cup adds an extra space to my divided containers, which is helpful for snack-tray type lunches. TIP: You can pre-drain them by poking a hole and covering with tape.

Variety Pack

healthy school lunch rotisserie chicken

What’s inside:

Diced rotisserie chicken, roasted potatoes, bell pepper slices, hummus, bread and butter pickles, and a fruit & veggie pouch.

Sticky notes: One thing I can always count on my guy eating is pickles, of all things. To make sure he doesn’t get too much sodium I only give him 2 slices at a time, then hide the jar in the very, very back of the fridge.

Snack Plate

Del-Monte-9880

What’s inside:

Shredded low-sodium turkey, blueberries, veggie sticks, apple cinnamon graham crackers, diced mango, fruit pouch.

Sticky notes: My son is a fruit-aholic. I’ve never, ever had trouble getting him to eat fruit.

Breakfast for Lunch

lunch ideas for kids

What’s inside:

Spinach, portabella mushroom, and red pepper cheese-free quiche, veggie sticks, blueberries.

Sticky notes: The quiche was our dinner the night before. Using it as my toddler’s lunch the next day made things super easy on me in the morning. I had leftovers for lunch too.

Dip Station

kid lunch ideas

What’s inside:

Sliced apples, carrots, peanut butter, grapes, and gluten-free pasta salad made with rice spirals, corn, and peppers.

Sticky notes: Dipping fruit that can brown, like apples, in lime, lemon, or pineapple juice will keep them from turning an unappetizing color.

Muffin Tops

healthy toddler lunch ideas

What’s inside:

Black beans, zucchini chips, fruit pouch in mixed berry, corn muffin.

Sticky notes: My son isn’t a huge meat eater, so beans are a good way to get some protein in him. Plus, he loves them. Today there’s only a corn muffin top because somebody {cough, cough} forgot to spray the muffin tin liners.

Leftover Roundup

toddler lunches

What’s inside:

Sweet potato fries, zucchini chips, black beans, a hardboiled egg, and strawberries.

Sticky notes: I was using up all my leftovers from other lunches here. Luckily, kids don’t mind a little randomness.

10 healthy lunch box ideas for kids

What’s your favorite thing to pack for lunchboxes?

Feeding Healthy Kids

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Lunchbox Favorites {favorite supplies for packing preschool lunches}

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Desimira August 17, 2016 at 12:30 pm

This is perfect, thanks for sharing! My daughter would love the variety pack 🙂

http://www.teacupsandtulips.com

Reply

Emily August 19, 2016 at 11:17 am

Every one of these looks really balanced and super delicious. I love the shape of the lunchbox. 🙂

Reply

Cayanne Marcus @healthyezsweet August 19, 2016 at 12:23 pm

I have no shame in admitting I am bookmarking this for when my college classes start back up again. Such good combinations. I LOVE packing sweet potato rounds with me and throwing black beans in a tupperware is something I never thought of but sounds like a really filling meat alternative.

Reply

tinysneakers August 21, 2016 at 10:29 am

No shame at all – I totally pack myself the same things!

Reply

jess larson | playswellwithbutter August 19, 2016 at 7:52 pm

umm…can you pack my lunch too 😀 😀

you’ve got one lucky little guy who has one lucky little tummy to be having all these treats all year long!

love the quiche idea! one i do often is a “pizza” fritatta with lightly tossed greens – topping off a frittata with some tomato sauce, fresh basil, & fresh mozz & it keeps remarkably well. another favorite is the simplest – sliced granny smith apples, smoked deli turkey, & sliced smoked gouda. yum!

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tinysneakers August 21, 2016 at 10:28 am

Mm those sound amazing!!

Reply

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