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Healthy School Lunch Ideas

by krismkoch
healthy school lunch ideas

It’s back to school time, and this year, James will be going to school for a full day, which means I need to pack a lunch for him every. single. day. I’m not going to lie, the first time I got to pack him a lunch for school (pre-Covid when they had a lunch group after school), I was excited. It made me feel like a “real mom” or something silly like that. And then I discovered what packing a lunch really means… And experienced first hand how hard it is to come up with something that is free of all the allergens, will keep without a fridge (I know there are ice packs but still…), works without being heated up, and my child will actually eat. Oh, and that makes me look like a good mom to his teachers who are so lovely but my paranoia and anxiety still feels like I’m being judged. Even though I had some practice putting together camp lunches, I feel like school is next level (and I wasn’t as worried about teen camp counselors judging me), so I have started gathering healthy school lunch ideas to at least kick the school year off on the right foot.

Before I continue, I want to say, in the past when I’ve posted the lunches I’ve made for my kids to Instagram, I’ve gotten so many comments from other moms about how it’s making their lunches feel inadequate. That is 100 percent not my intention. I love seeing what other moms are packing their kids — even though I totally get it because it makes me often feel inadequate too, it also gives me ideas and inspires me. I just don’t have that many ideas in my head, so I need to get inspired. That’s the only reason I’m pulling together this list of healthy school lunch ideas, and I hope you find it helpful. I believe at every age, fed is best. Nutrition has become really important to me over the years, especially after struggling with infertility. However, I have days when the kids don’t eat a single vegetable or they eat some nonorganic fruit snack or eat ice cream for dinner, and I know it’s totally okay. And if your kids only eat bread and pasta, like I did the first ten years of life, they’ll be totally fine and there is no judgement here. Just like if you’re still in your pajamas or workout clothes and haven’t brushed your hair, there is no judgement (not saying that’s me right now or anything). This blog is meant to help make life easier for busy moms/women and to provide the content I wish I had to help me navigate everything from getting dressed to packing lunches for my children. And to that end, here are healthy school lunch ideas to make your mornings easier.

I usually pick a couple things from here to fill out a bento box and start with a main dish like a sandwich and then some extras, so you’ll see my lunch ideas divided that way.

Main Dish/Square

Greek Yogurt Parfait with Fruit and Granola

Mini Bagel with Cream Cheese

Apples and Peanut Butter

Veggies, Pita and Hummus

Sunbutter and Jelly Sandwich (our school is nut-free)

Whole Grain Waffles with Side of Maple Syrup

Whole Grain French Toast Sticks with side of Maple Syrup (love Dr. Praeger’s french toast sticks — they’re shaped like dinos and animals and stars)

Turkey Sandwich

English Muffin Pizza or Leftover Pizza

Turkey Burger

Turkey Meatballs

Chicken Salad

Turkey and Cheese Rolls (James doesn’t eat cheese, so I just do a plain turkey roll but I think he likes the presentation)

Spinach Tortellini (I serve cold)

Plain Pasta (tried pasta salad and he refused to eat it – he does not like dressings, which I get because I’m similar)

Shredded Rotisserie Chicken

Cheese and Corn Quesadillas (I love the Ciete tortillas)

Mini Veggie Quiche

Veggie Muffin (check out my other healthy muffin recipe here)

BLT

Sesame Noodles

Chicken Fried Rice (either homemade or leftover takeout)

Sun Butter and Honey Sandwich

Sun Butter and Raisins on Bananas

Veggie Sushi Roll

Spaghetti Squash Mac and Cheese (James won’t eat it because of the cheese but I think Charlotte will enjoy one day)

Flax Cereal (I like Nature’s Path)

Siete Tortilla Chips and Guac or Salsa (James doesn’t eat guac but I’ll do a salsa side and some avocado for exposure)

Sunbutter Waffles

Turkey Meatloaf and Spaghetti Squash Noodles

Turkey Bolognese

Chicken Nuggets and Cauliflower Tots

Crackers (like Mary’s Gone Crackers) and Cheese or Hummus

Yogurt Pouch (like Siggit’s kids – has the least sugar)

Healthy Sides for Filling out the Bento Box:

Peaches

Apples

Grapes

Sliced cucumbers

Mini Carrots

Celery

Corn (I serve frozen corn so it’s melted by the time it’s lunch)

Strawberries, Blueberries and Raspberries

Oranges or Tangerines

Applesauce or other Fruit Pouch

Cheese Sticks

Bell Pepper Slices

Snap Peas

Cherries

Laughing Cow Wedgies

Watermelon Cubes

Mini Tomatoes

Banana

Roast Chickpeas

Dried Fruit

Kiwi

Edamame

Mango Slices

Melon

Pineapple Slices

Treat for Topping Off the Bento Box:

Pirate’s Booty

Annie’s Cheddar Bunnies

Annie’s Graham or Chocolate Bunnies (a good treat)

Animal Crackers

Pretzels

Z Bars

Annie’s Granola Bars

Fruit Leather

Annie’s Fruit Snacks

Graham Crackers

Trail Mix

M&M’s

Back to Nature Cookies

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