Healthy Kids’ Lunch Ideas | Kid-Friendly Lunch Ideas - Better Nutrition

Pack up the Fun with Healthy Kids’ Lunch Ideas

What's for lunch? Liven up your kids' midday meal with these delicious, healthy, and kid-friendly recipes.
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Spice up your children's noontime nosh with these creative and good-for-them recipes.

Spice up your children's noontime nosh with these creative and good-for-them recipes.

It’s not always easy to come up with creative lunch ideas for kids. Too often, we fall back on the time-honored PB&J or mystery-meat nuggets. So if you’re looking to spice up your children’s noontime nosh, check out this selection of good—and good-for-you—recipes. Whether they’re headed back to school or just into the next room, your kids will thank you!

Bento Box Ideas

bento boxes

Japanese-style bento lunchbox containers are all the rage. They’re perfect for whatever type of eater you have. Say the kid who wants his or her food in separate containers (let’s call them the food no-touchers) or the more adventurous ones who like to try lots of new foods at the same time. Here are a few ideas to inspire.

The Lunchtime Dragon Slayer: Use a cocktail stirrer or Popsicle stick as a skewer (bamboo skewers and long toothpicks are frowned upon at school) and fill with squares of whole grain bread, turkey, pickles, cherry tomatoes, and cheese.

Loco for Tacos: Whole grain tortilla chips or tiny street taco tortillas, black beans, shredded lettuce, cheese, and salsa.

The Veg-Head: Hummus, pretzels, and dehydrated sugar snap
pea snacks.

World Traveler: Asian dumplings, Onigiri (see recipe below), and snow peas with soy sauce and sweet red chili sauce for dipping.

The Traditionalist: Cut 2 pieces of white whole-wheat bread into rounds, spread with Tutti-Frutti Veggie Dippy (see recipe below), and add tops for tasty tea sandwiches.

Southern Gourmet: Cut whole wheat waffles into quarters and spread with maple butter (soft butter sweetened with a little maple syrup). Add shredded
chicken and lettuce to make a chicken waffle sandwich.

Mama Mia: Macaroni Pizza (see recipe below) and cocktail stirrer-skewered pearl mozzarella balls with cherry tomatoes and mozzarella sticks.

Get the Ho-Hum Out of School Lunches

We checked in with Rhian Allen, CEO/Founder of The Healthy Mommy, a healthy living program designed to show busy moms that eating healthy can be easy and inexpensive. As a busy mom of two, she shares her school lunch ideas and her thoughts on why what you put in that lunchbox is important to your child’s nutrition. “A school lunchbox that is packed with snacks, lunch, and an after-school nutrient boost can potentially make up to 30–50 percent of your child’s daily food intake, so we want to make them count,” she says.

Meal Plan for Healthy Lunches

Allen suggests making lunchbox planning a part of your weekly meal planning. And if you’ve made something for dinner that your kids love, consider packing it in their lunch. “Make a little extra of certain meals you know your kids love, and then use it as part of their lunch that week.”

Also, ask your kids what they want in their lunch and for snacks. Within reason work with them on the purchasing and preparation. “Getting your kids to help put it all together is not just a helpful timesaver. If they’re involved, they will get excited about eating their lunch,” Allen says. “Your kids may also surprise you. They may prefer sandwiches over that stir fry or salad you were planning to pack.”

Fun Finger Foods

Kids love anything they can eat with their hands. Forgo the forks and spoons for small edibles that give kids the look and feel of a special treat. Allen’s kids go for Lemon Coconut Bliss Balls, a healthy concoction of almonds, coconut, and lemon rolled into bite-sized morsels. On the savory side, cheesy broccoli bites are a great way for your kids to get some vegetables and protein in their lunch (see the recipe below).

Lastly, don’t forget to pack water along with other healthy beverages. “If your kids don’t like to drink water, try adding berries or other fruit in it to infuse it with added flavor and natural sweetness,” Allen says. 

The Recipes

Macaroni Pizza

Macaroni Pizza

Click here for the Macaroni Pizza recipe.

Apple, Oat, and Yellow Squash Pancakes

Apple, Oat, and Yellow Squash Pancakes

Click here for the Apple, Oat, and Yellow Squash Pancakes recipe.

Chicken and Edamame Onigiri

Chicken and Edamame Onigiri

Click here for the Chicken and Edamame Onigiri recipe.

Tutti-Frutti Veggie Dippy

Tutti-Frutti Veggie Dippy

Click here for the Tutti-Frutti Veggie Dippy recipe.

Cheesy Broccoli Bites

Cheesy Broccoli Bites

Click here for the Cheesy Broccoli Bites recipe.


Cooking with Kids

Creating Culinary Superstars in Your Kids

When children learn to cook, they eat healthier and gain a lot of valuable skills that they will use for a lifetime. But does the thought of turning your kitchen over to the kids seem like a bad idea? Culinary instructor, parent and author, Kimberly Lord Stewart lines out how to teach your kids cooking skills. In time you could just sit back, watch and enjoy their culinary talents.

Lisa Lillien, author of Simply 6: All-Natural Recipes with 6 Ingredients or Less

In the Spotlight: Lisa Lillien

The bestselling author’s latest cookbook, Simply 6: All-Natural Recipes with 6 Ingredients or Less, serves up a tasty array of easy-to-make meals and desserts centered on whole, and often gluten-free, ingredients.

outdoor fun2

Get Your Kids Outside for Fun and Health Benefits

Naturopathic physician BreAnna M. Guan looks at the health benefits of having fun. Whether it’s an outdoor adventure hike or chasing bubbles on a breeze, being outdoor is good for physical and mental health. Get ideas from this naturopathic pediatrician on how to create wellness adventures for your family.


Sheet Pan Magic

Imagine dinner in one pan and less than one hour. That is the magic of sheet pan dinners. While many recipes use large sheet pans—which is good for large meals—we pared it down to a smaller pan for servings of four. Any of these recipes can be bumped up if you are feeding a large crowd.