Food fuels us and helps us get through the day more focused, and that’s no different for our Birdies! With the kids back in school we wanted to share some of our go-to lunchbox ideas to make packing lunch easier on you, and tastier for your kids.
These easy and healthy lunchbox ideas help keep your kids full and focused all day. We’ve tried to share a mix of recipes for picky eaters, and dietary or allergy needs but we’re always looking for more inspiration! Come hang out with us on Instagram and share your favorite recipes with us there and make sure to let us know which one of these recipes is your favorite!
How to pack a healthy lunchbox for your kids
First, let’s talk about the basic components of packing a healthy lunchbox for your kids. Instead of standing in your kitchen… or the grocery store thinking, “What foods should I include??” Break the categories down into food groups that you know you want to include.
You can use a formula to help you make sure you include everything that will help keep your kiddo full and focused all day long:
Protein/Fat + Complex carb (e.g. whole grains, beans, lentils, starchy vegetables) + Fruit and/or Vegetable.
Once you break it down, it’s much easier to make food that fits into each category. It’s also easier when you’re wandering through the grocery store with what feels like an endless list.
Tips for packing a healthy lunchbox
Packing lunch for your kids can become overwhelming, especially if their lunchbox is returning home to you barely eaten. You want your kids to be getting the nutrients they need and not going hungry all day at school, so here are some tips to help you pack a lunchbox your kids will eat!
- Just aim for balance. Not every lunchbox will be perfect, but if you aim to include at least 2 things from the formula mentioned above, that’s great!
- Plan for your Birdie. Always include foods that you know your child will eat. You know your kids better than anyone else, so make sure something they love is in there, or if they like their fruits/veggies cut in a certain way, honor their preferences.
- Get them involved. Alright anyone with kids knows… it’s so much easier to do these things yourself, but if your kiddo loves being in the kitchen with you, let them help pack lunch.
- Ask them! We suggest giving your kids two choices from the same food group - for example, you could ask them if they want pasta or bread, apples or bananas, etc. They’re more likely to eat what they choose.
- Try out the foods at home first. Instead of surprising your kids with brand new creations, they’ve never eaten, practice eating ‘lunchbox’ ideas for lunch on the weekends or during the summer. That way they’ll recognize foods when they see them at school.
Lastly, don’t stress out or overwhelm yourself with what you think or see other mamas doing. You don’t need to spend hours cutting your kid's food into shapes or creating interesting and new ideas for lunch every day. Use leftovers, make lunches the night before, and give your kids things they love. The most important thing is that they eat lunch, not how it looks when they open the box at school.
Now onto the fun part!
3 Easy & Healthy Lunchbox Recipes for Kids
Yup, we’re starting with a classic and one of my favorite things to eat when I was a kid. Homemade uncrustables. I don’t know what it is about kids and crusts… but they don’t agree with each other! Here’s how I made tasty homemade uncrustables for my kids.
- Cutting board
- Sandwich cookie cutter (if you don’t have this - you just need a knife and fork!)
- 2 slices of bread
- Your choice of filling (you can use the traditional peanut butter and jelly or experiment with other fillings that your kids love)
- Lay out your pieces of bread on the cutting board and spread your fillings inside the bread. Make sure that you don’t put the filling all the way to the edges of the bread!
- Put the pieces of the sandwich together and then we suggest really squishing them into place to seal the sandwich
- Now using your sandwich cutter (or knife), cut your sandwich into the desired shape
- Then you can run a fork along the edges to really seal the sandwich.
And wallah! You have a traditional uncrustable sandwich beloved by every youth!
Turkey & Cheese Pinwheels
These turkey and cheese pinwheels are another easy, fan favorite in our house! You can add any ingredients that your Birdies love, but for simplicities sake, we’ll be using mustard, cheese, and turkey with a bit of lettuce.
- Cutting board
- 1 tortilla
- 2 tablespoons mustard
- 2 ½ slices cheese, your choice
- 3 slices turkey
- 1 piece of lettuce/small handful of shredded lettuce
- Spread the mustard on the tortilla, and lay down the cheese, turkey, and lettuce.
- Tightly roll up the tortilla, and cut it into slices.
That’s it! This easy lunchbox idea only takes about 5 minutes to prepare. Then, you can serve it with a side of your kid's favorite fruit or veggies and a frozen water bottle to keep it cool. We love that this recipe involves no fancy tools or tricks. It’s just 2 steps and they’re out the door.
Easy Kids Omelet
Omelets might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of school lunch, because they’re usually something you eat warm. But a cold omelet is actually delicious and these have become a fan favorite in our house for school lunches. Plus they’re easy to make and you can put whatever your kids already love in them! (Plus sneak in a few of those pesky greens they don’t love eating…)
- Cutting board
Ingredients (you can make your pizza omelets with whatever ingredients your kids love, but this is what we use):
- Butter or oil for the pan
- 2 eggs
- Cherry tomatoes sliced very thin
- A small handful of spinach
- Mozzarella cheese
- Melt butter in a pan over medium heat. Add vegetables and cook for several minutes until soft.
- Pour in well-whisked eggs.
- Wait a couple of minutes for the bottom to set slightly. Then using a spatula, gently push an edge of the eggs up while tilting the pan slightly to allow the excess/liquidy eggs on top to flow underneath.
- When the eggs are almost set, add cheese and cover with a lid for 1-2 minutes until cheese has melted.
- Lay the omelet out on your cutting board and slice it however you like!
You can make these omelets the night before and store them in the fridge so they’re nice and cold for the day. Then serve them with a few cut-up fruits and veggies and throw a frozen water bottle in the bag to keep everything cold! Easy, peasy.
We hope that this guide to easy lunchbox ideas for kids has inspired you to create some easy lunches that don’t have to break the bank, or take you a lot of time to make!