Kid-Friendly & Healthy School Lunch Ideas

Girls eating school lunch

Parents show how much we care for our children in myriad ways. Healthy nutrition is essential and balanced school lunches are an excellent means to keep a child's energy up for school work. Prepare school meals that include vegetables, fruits, and fun. With a little creativity, healthy food can be just as appealing as any other. Click on these links: Parents Magazine and Bentology to access fun and balanced lunch ideas using the Japanese Bento boxes (single-portion) concept by illustrating how to create imaginative and nutritious lunches for kids to enjoy at school. Both offer countless meal-making recipes from intricate designs to delicious carrot mini muffins or simple cauliflower mashed potatoes. For now, here are some kid-friendly healthy school lunch ideas to keep them excited and engaged when lunchtime arrives.

Vegetable Chicken Rolls

For a fun and healthy variation on the chicken sandwich, use whole grain tortillas instead of white bread to make a roll instead of a sandwich. Depending on your kid's taste, try avocado spread, mustard or hummus in place of mayonnaise. Add low-fat cheese and chopped tomato for an even healthier roll-up. Then cut in half, add a piece of fruit and some carrot matchsticks to make it a meal.

Classic Tuna Sandwich

Not every child is a tuna salad fan, but maybe this recipe will turn the tide in your household. Mix thinly sliced celery and capers with mustard, light mayonnaise, one can of drained and squeezed water-packed tuna; add a squirt of lemon juice, and salt to each kid’s liking; mix it well and spread on whole wheat bread with lettuce leaf pieces. Include some baked vegetable chips and fresh fruit like chunks of pineapple, sliced strawberries or mango on the side. For the little ones, you can cut the sandwich bread into the shape of a fish.

Healthy Cheese-Spinach Quesadillas

Add nutrition to this go-to food item by layering cheese, slices of cooked chicken and fresh chopped spinach in a tortilla, fold it in half and heat on a hot skillet or Panini press. Once the cheese has melted, let it cool and cut in half or into quarters. Add some chips and tomato slices to make it a meal.

Broccoli Pesto Ziti

If you don't mention broccoli, they won't know; just whip it up in the blender along with fresh basil and olive oil or store-bought pesto sauce; add cooked ziti and you've got a nourishing dish. For an eye-popping meal, serve it with some skewered cherry tomatoes and oranges or honeydew melon slices.

Tried and True Cream Cheese Sandwiches

Change the bread and a couple ingredients for a completely different go-to meal. Place thinly sliced tomatoes on sourdough bread with cream cheese, serve with baked blue corn chips and some almonds. Thinly sliced cucumber sprinkled with fresh mint is another good compliment to cream cheese, especially when served with apple wedges and crispy crackers. And of course, cream cheese and any of these toppings go pretty well with a whole wheat bagel.

Healthy Mac 'N’ Cheese

This is comfort food for everyone regardless of age. You might want to save it for special occasions though because it's probably the most time-consuming dish on our list. Boil 2 cups whole-wheat macaroni in salted water until it's cooked but firm, then mix it with 2 cups sharp cheddar cheese. Whisk 2 cups milk with mustard, 2 eggs, a touch of Worcestershire sauce and 1/2 cup of pureed cauliflower. Combine the mixture with the pasta and bake in an 8x8x2 buttered dish at 350 until golden brown.

A Wedge of Spanish Omelet

A favorite tapas selection, leftover potato omelets are packed with flavor and make for an easy nutritious lunch. Add some greens, like chopped lettuce or edamame pods, along with watermelon, papaya or pear slices, depending on what your child prefers.

Confetti Pasta Salad

Nutritionists like to say that the more colorful a meal, the healthier it is. Confetti pasta salad fills the requirement with pizzaz. Boil 2 cups whole wheat or gluten-free pasta in salted water. In the last minutes of cooking, add a cup of broccoli florets. Next, drain and add thawed peas, finely chopped red pepper and carrots. Toss with olive oil, sprinkle cheese and a fun and healthy dish is ready to wow the lunch table.

When In a Hurry: Ham Sandwich

We don't always have time to boil pasta. For more hectic mornings, it's hard to beat a ham sandwich. Make it special by choosing a different bread, like a hoagie or Hawaiian roll. Pack it with something sweet like mango slices and trail mix.

Getting into the rhythm and routine of the school year takes some adjusting for kids and families. Use these healthy school lunch ideas to ease the transition. Who knows, your little ones might end up wanting to eat healthier year-round!

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The materials available in the Knowledge Center are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact legal counsel to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem. Use of this website or any of the links contained within the website do not create representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, about the completeness, accuracy, reliability, suitability or availability with respect to the website or the information, products, services, or related graphics contained on the website for any purpose. Any reliance you place on such information is therefore strictly at your own risk.