27 Simple and Healthy School Lunches for Kids

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Along with devoting weekends to family and friends, my Saturdays and Sundays are also dedicated to planning the week ahead, which in my world includes buying food and preparing as much as I can ahead of time. Since I send my kids to school primarily with homemade lunches, I keep that in mind while shopping to ensure I have all the elements of quick and healthy school lunches.

Make a grocery list for lunches

  • Fruits and vegetables. These can be fresh, frozen, or packaged as in the case of apple sauce, dried and freeze-dried fruit, and natural fruit leathers.
  • Protein. Fuel all that brain growth with eggs, meat, cheese, yogurt, kefir, canned fish, nut butters, or hummus.
  • Healthy fats. Essential for energy, healthy fats include nuts, seeds, nut butters, grass-fed butter, coconut oil, olive oil, and avocados.
  • Whole grains. Minimally processed grains have a short ingredient list of short words you can recognize. Grains in our lunches include sprouted bread, whole wheat pita, and gluten free crackers such as Mary’s Gone Crackers.
  • Condiments. Make lunches interactive and tasty with dips and condiments such as Organic Cowgirl Ranch, natural, cage-free mayonnaise, and mustard.

Make it balanced

When making school lunches, I start with the produce, and typically fill one section of the tray with fruit and another with vegetable(s). I then select a protein or two of choice (for example, meat and cheese, or eggs and hummus), and then fill in the gaps, either with more fruit or with the minimally-processed grains that complement the other food. Unless I make a sandwich, I sometimes forgo the grains in favor of more fruit, veggies, or a fun treat, such as dark chocolate or natural fruit leathers. Bonus: kids often see apple squeezers (or other fruit flavors) and freeze-dried fruit as a treat even though they count as fruit!

Make it easy

To simplify the process of lunch packing even further, I purchased the PlanetBox stainless steel lunchbox for my three daughters. While my girls loved picking a set of magnets to customize each of their lunch boxes, I love that the boxes are divided into sections, are eco-friendly, durable, and dishwasher-safe. PlanetBox also has an online meal planner, Plan-It-Box, to help their users plan lunches and get new ideas from the PlanetBox community.

In addition to our beloved PlanetBox, I like to change things up by occasionally using Ziploc’s BPA-free, reusable 3-compartment lunch box. They are dish-washer safe, leak-proof, and very affordable, at around $5.00 for a two-pack.

Note: these lunches are not strictly for children! May be enjoyed by teens and adults as well!!

Lunchbox Idea 1
Lunchbox Idea 1
Salami, cheese, applesauce, homemade muffin, blueberries, cucumber & pepper salad
Lunchbox Idea 2
Lunchbox Idea 2
Salami-wrapped asparagus, gluten-free crackers and cheese wedge, golden cherry tomatoes, and kiwi
Lunchbox Idea 3
Lunchbox Idea 3
Italian style green beans, the oh-so-cute clementines, hummus with gluten-free crackers, and kefir
Lunchbox Idea 4
Lunchbox Idea 4
Homemade egg muffin, gluten-free crackers and cheese wedge, applesauce, broccoli & golden cherry tomatoes, kiwi, and chocolate gold coins
Lunchbox Idea 5
Lunchbox Idea 5
Cucumber slices, kiwi, hard boiled egg, cheese, hummus & gluten free crackers, and applesauce
Lunchbox Idea 6
Lunchbox Idea 6
Smoked turkey, hard-boiled egg, kefir, strawberries, and carrots & cucumbers
Lunchbox Idea 7
Lunchbox Idea 7
Chef salads with hard-boiled egg, avocado, cucumber, ham, and peppers, with a side of ranch and kefir
Lunchbox Idea 8
Lunchbox Idea 8
Homemade banana bread, applesauce, cheese, hard-boiled egg, tomato and cucumber salad, and watermelon
Lunchbox Idea 9
Lunchbox Idea 9
Deviled eggs, gluten-free crackers, cheese wheel, applesauce, golden cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, and raspberries
Lunchbox Idea 10
Lunchbox Idea 10
Homemade banana bread, hard-boiled egg, Justin's almond butter, peppers and cucumbers, applesauce, and watermelon
Lunchbox Idea 11
Lunchbox Idea 11
Smoked turkey-wrapped asparagus spears, Laughing Cow cheese wedge with gluten-free crackers, golden cherry tomatoes, a plum, and ProBugs kefir
Lunchbox Idea 12
Lunchbox Idea 12
Roast turkey, spinach leaves, and mustard between rustic, whole wheat bread along with red peppers, kiwi (cut in half and conveniently eaten with a spoon), cheese, and apple sauce
Lunchbox Idea 13
Lunchbox Idea 13
Kiwi, yellow cherry tomatoes, asparagus spears, roasted turkey slices, cheese, and apple sauce
Lunchbox Idea 14
Lunchbox Idea 14
Sunflower butter and jelly rollups, mandarin orange cup, cheese wheel, red peppers & snap peas, and watermelon
Lunchbox Idea 15
Lunchbox Idea 15
Sunflower butter and jelly quesadillas, cheese, fruit squeeze, golden cherry tomatoes, and grapes
Lunchbox Idea 16
Lunchbox Idea 16
Edamame, gluten-free crackers and cheese wedge, cherry tomatoes and carrots, strawberries, and chocolate gold coins
Lunchbox Idea 17
Lunchbox Idea 17
Nitrite-free salami, whole grain blueberry muffin, hard-boiled egg, red peppers & carrots, and grapes
Lunchbox Idea 18
Lunchbox Idea 18
Salami-wrapped asparagus, gluten-free crackers and cheese wedge, hard-boiled egg, golden cherry tomatoes, and raspberries
Lunchbox Idea 19
Lunchbox Idea 19
Plums, golden cherry tomatoes, kefir, applesauce, and homemade fruit & nut bars
Lunchbox Idea 20
Lunchbox Idea 20
Whole wheat pita + hummus, chopped salad, grapes, cheese wheel, and pickles
Lunchbox Idea 21
Lunchbox Idea 21
Gluten-free pretzels and hummus, cheese, fruit and veggie squeezer, golden cherry tomatoes, and kiwi
Lunchbox Idea 22
Lunchbox Idea 22
Pita and hummus, applesauce, homemade egg muffin, kiwi, and tomatoes
Lunchbox Idea 23
Lunchbox Idea 23
Gluten-free banana bread, cheese wheel, hard boiled egg, clementine, strawberry and kiwi fruit salad, red bell peppers...and chocolate coins
Lunchbox Idea 24
Lunchbox Idea 24
Homemade Paleo banana muffin, hard-boiled egg, cheese, applesauce, and blueberries
Lunchbox Idea 25
Lunchbox Idea 25
Smoked turkey, cheese, hard-boiled egg, gluten-free crackers, peppers and cucumbers, pineapple, and fruit leather
Lunchbox Idea 26
Lunchbox Idea 26
Israeli salads with cucumber, peppers, ham, and raw milk cheese
Lunchbox Idea 27
Lunchbox Idea 27
Smoked turkey, gluten-free crackers and hummus, cucumber and pepper salad, and kiwi
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About Author

Dr. Dana Shafir

Dana Shafir, Ph.D., LPC, completed the Health Coach Training Program through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, and owns and operates Dana Shafir Wellness. Dana serves as the Resident Nutritionist for Strategy Magazine. Learn more at www.Danashafirwellness.com, or follow her on Facebook or @doctordshafir on Twitter.

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