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Healthy School Lunch Ideas for Kids - Healthy Lunches for Kids

Updated on September 29, 2010

High fructose corn syrup, red dye #40, bleached white flour - those are just some of the many ingredients that our public schools are incorporating into children's school lunches! Save money and more importantly, give your child a healthy lunch that they'll enjoy. Learn some great ideas that combine protein, fiber and naturally sweet foods to give your child a hearty lunch that will also boost their learning abilities and not get them all "hyped-up" on refined sugar. Here are some quick and easy healthy kids lunch ideas that your kids will enjoy and others kids will be jealous of!

Note: These lunch ideas are non-microwaveable since many kids unfortunately do  not have access to a microwave at lunchtime.

Healthy Kids Lunches
Healthy Kids Lunches

Healthy PB& J Sandwich Recipe for Kids

This sandwich is so much healthier than a traditional PB&J made on white bread with processed peanut butter and sugar-infused jelly. If your child balks at the thought of eating whole wheat bread, use a fun cookie cutter shape to make the sandwich more appealing. Once they taste it, they'll love it!

You'll need:

  • Whole wheat bread
  • No-sugar added peanut butter (make sure your child's school allows peanut butter!)
  • No-sugar added jam or jelly
  • Sliced banana
  • Optional: Fun cookie cutter shape

Assemble the PB&J sandwich with the healthy ingredients listed above. The protein and fiber from the natural peanut butter and whole wheat will give your child an added mental boost to help them with their studies.  Use an optional cookie cutter shape such as a heart or star to make the sandwich more appealing. Serve with apple slices, veggie sticks with dip and bottle water or natural juice for a great lunch.

Variation: Omit jam or jelly and add honey to the peanut butter and banana for a naturally sweet, yummy treat!

Circle Cookie Cutters - Perfect for creating bite-sized snacks

Homemade "Lunchables"

Say goodbye to fake orange cheese, refined carbohydrate crackers, sugary drinks and candies - you can easily make your child their own "lunchable" that will taste even better than the kind that you buy at the grocery store.

You'll need:

  • Whole wheat crackers like Triscuits
  • Lean low-sodium ham or turkey (thickly sliced)
  • Locally made real cheese (cheddar is a favorite of many kids)
  • Natural, no-sugar added juice pack
  • Cut-up pieces of your child's favorite fruit
  • Round shaped cookie cutters

Directions: Use a small round cookie cutter to cut out shapes in the meat and cheese slices. Find plastic containers that are large enough to store all the elements of the lunch and you've got your own, homemade "lunchable" without all the sodium and fake, processed junk!

Cold pasta salad recipe for kids
Cold pasta salad recipe for kids

Pasta Salad for Kids

Most kids love pasta salad, you just need to find a recipe that contains foods they enjoy. For a healthy pasta salad, try a mixture of following ingredients:

  • 1/2 cooked Whole Wheat Pasta
  • 1/2 cooked White Pasta
  • Low-fat ranch dressing
  • Diced ham
  • Diced cucumber
  • Shredded carrots

Serve the cold pasta salad with low-fat string cheese, an apple and bottle water.

Go here for some more easy cold pasta salad ideas.

Cooking With Kids - Related Amazon Products

Tips for Healthy School Lunches for Kids

  • Kids are more likely to eat something that they helped "cook", so set aside some time with your child before they go to bed and make their lunch for the next day.
  • For convenience sake, it is still possible to find pre-packaged lunch foods for kids that are healthy.  A good place to start is at your local Whole Foods, Trader Joe's or health food store. You can always prepackage healthy crackers in ziploc bags to save money. 

Do you involve your children in cooking their lunch for school?

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Comments! What are some of your kid's favorite healthy lunches?

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    • Tamara14 profile image

      Tamara Kajari 3 years ago from Zagreb, Croatia, Europe

      Thank you for this useful hub. With school starting tomorrow here in Croatia and with my both girls being somewhat picky eaters I will gladly use our ideas and tips.

    • emilybee profile image

      emilybee 4 years ago

      Not only do schools provide some unhealthy snacks for kids but what parents pack for their kids, too- like Doritos. Great suggestions for healthy snacks and lunches :)

    • shea duane profile image

      shea duane 6 years ago from new jersey

      Great hub. Organic fruit, veggies, and peanut butter are the best!

    • Becky Puetz profile image

      Becky 6 years ago from Oklahoma

      Great ideas and advice. Thanks for sharing.

    • Becky Puetz profile image

      Becky 6 years ago from Oklahoma

      Great ideas and advice. Thanks for sharing.

    • Healing Touch profile image

      Laura Arne 7 years ago from Minnetonka, MN

      Great hub. I really appreciate it. I had to vote that I had not thought of involving my kids in making thier lunch. I do however always send them a healty bagged lunch.

    • BkCreative profile image

      BkCreative 7 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      It's shocking what we give our school children - even recalled meats. I worked in S. Korea and they wouldn't dream of giving their children the chemical-filled garbage we call food. We have to stop it.

      Thanks for the many suggestions. Rated up of course.

    • 2patricias profile image

      2patricias 7 years ago from Sussex by the Sea

      Thought-provoking hub. The pasta salad looks pretty good for adults too.

      We have added a link from our hub "cooking with kids, testing hubber recipes".

    • theirishobserver. profile image

      theirishobserver. 7 years ago from Ireland

      great hub - its breaks my heart when I see the crap that some kids are being given for lunch....well done....Irish

    • rebekahELLE profile image

      rebekahELLE 7 years ago from Tampa Bay

      great hub girly! love to see more articles about healthy kid's lunches. there are so many parents who need and want ideas for healthy lunches. the packaged lunchables are terrible and so many kids eat them, for 'convenience'. there is nothing healthy in those packages, not to mention the enormous waste with plastic! reusable containers are the way to go. young kids love the cookie cutter sandwiches!!

    • entertianmentplus profile image

      entertianmentplus 7 years ago from United States

      Good tips in this hub.Thanks for sharing.

    • billyaustindillon profile image

      billyaustindillon 7 years ago

      Pasta salad is a great choice - I like the quiz we always try to involve the boys with their meals - they really do enjoy the choices.

    • girly_girl09 profile image
      Author

      girly_girl09 7 years ago from United States

      Lily Rose - thanks for stopping by! I'm glad to hear that you don't give your daughter's white bread. Good luck this fall!

    • Lily Rose profile image

      Lily Rose 7 years ago from East Coast

      Girly girl, this is a great hub! My oldest daughter will be starting kindergarten in the fall and I have no idea what the food at her school is like, but I'm sure I won't be happy with it and I'll be needing healthy ideas.

      Your ideas here are great. My girls love peanut butter, jelly, and banana sandwiches. My daughters have never even tasted white bread as I've always used whole wheat and I only use all natural peanut butter and they love it.

      I love the idea of the homemade "lunchables" and I'll definitely use it for them as well as the pasta salad. Thanks for the tips!

    • girly_girl09 profile image
      Author

      girly_girl09 7 years ago from United States

      thanks for reading! There is wayyyyyy too much sugar in kid's foods these days. I really think that many children would do better in school with a simple reduction in refined sugars. I know that personally, I can focus so much better when I eat healthy and watch my sugar intake!

    • sagebrush_mama profile image

      sagebrush_mama 7 years ago from The Shadow of Death Valley...Snow Covered Mountain Views Abound!

      Great hub! That sugar is killer in a lunch...I have one youngster who just loses it when he has too much refined sugar.