Healthy Lunch Ideas for Kids
(And Adults Too!)
Coming up with healthy lunch ideas for kids tends to get boring or frustrating. But this guest post from The Conscious Caravan has plenty of inspiration.
Whether it's school or home lunches, or even for your teens, or yourself, the key is to create your own list of favorites and rotate them so nothing gets old. Use these ideas below as inspiration, and check out this guide to keeping it affordable.
First, Make It About Choices
The key to turning a picky eater into an open-minded, healthy eater is choices: Lots and lots of choices, all being presented over and over. Picky kids tend to be resistant to change, so even if they don't eat the food the first 20 times, it eventually becomes a friendly food just because it's been on the table consistently for a long enough period of time and they've come to "know" the food before even tasting it.
The other obvious part is to eat with your child as often as possible, the same foods, but with more variety, so they see you eating and enjoying all that is offered.
Make It Fun
The other key to finding healthy lunch ideas for kids is keeping food fun. Kids love scooping, serving themselves, and putting foods together. So, instead of making them a grilled cheese, set out a sandwich panini bar with bread and cheese and lots of healthy fillings (spreads, roasted veggies, different cheeses, lettuce, etc) and allow them to construct their sandwich, and then you can cook it up for them.
This is also a great time to play restaurant. I say to my kids all the time, "Welcome to my restaurant. Here is your invisible menu. We have everything in the world. Our specials today are: make your own taco salad, create your own pasta and sauce, wacky Wednesday weeds [that's seaweed], roll your own "sushi"." Or whatever else we have lots of in the fridge. This encourages them to come up with food ideas too. (They like to try and trick me with "I'd like eyeballs and mushy lips".... No problem, a cup of grapes and banana slices coming up!)
As for actual food combos, these are some of our friend's and family's favorite healthy lunch ideas for kids:
- Edamame in the shell
- Dried nori
- Raw carrot chips
- Green smoothies
- Leftovers Buffet Bar
- Tuna eaten with celery
- Flavored hummus dips and raw veggies
- Apples cut in half, scooped out a little, stuffed with a mixture of PB, granola and chopped fruit, and put back together.
- Apple PB&J - PB&J between two apple slices
- Fruit kabobs
- Anything we'd normally have for breakfast
- Design your own quesadilla bar
- Italy night/pasta bar
- Soups in bread bowls with roasted pumpkin seeds "croutons"
- Any sandwich cut into shapes. Especially triangles arranged to look like a boat and fruit set up to be a rainbow.
- Hard-boiled eggs
- Apple, banana, or sweet potato chips
- Tuna salad with tortilla chips for dipping
- Lunch meat rolled around carrot sticks and hummus
- Greek yogurt with fresh berries
Obviously, not all of these will work for a lunchbox, but most will!
Oh, and another thing I do as an alternative to healthy lunch ideas for kids is dedicate one shelf in my fridge to all-you-can-eat, pre-prepped snacks for the kids: Chopped carrots and celery (will keep for a month if covered with water in an airtight container), fresh granola, yogurts, homemade energy bars, fruits, cheeses, dips,etc. Then, the kids know they can always get a fresh, healthy snack without having to wait for me.
And find more healthy lunch ideas here: Healthy Kids' Lunchbox Ideas
Looking for Great, Non-Toxic Lunchboxes?
Then we highly recommend one of our affiliates, ECOlunchbox. I found and fell in love with them years ago (they were even so awesome as to hold a giveaway for new readers when this website launched). Their lunchboxes are quality stainless steel, including cloth napkins and bamboo utensils.
They are durable, long-lasting, non-toxic (won't leach harmful chemicals into your food!), and look fantastic while eliminating waste and saving money over the long term (these things last ages!).
Interested in Affordable, Healthy Food?
I'm extremely proud to present to you the Sustainable Baby Steps guides, helping you delve into the topic of making organic food affordable and simple with easy-to-digest, step-by-step information, inspiration, and tools to help you live green and healthy. Sweet, right?