28 answers

Ideas for Healthy School Lunch

I was looking for some good ideas for my preschoolers lunch. She says she is tired of sandwiches. She wants thosde lunchables but they are so full of unhealthy choice. any ideas for healthy easy things to give her.

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I just wanted to say Thank you to all of you. It is amazing how many ideas you all gave me. What creative women you all are and thank you for taking the time to share. This site has been amazing for me. Again thanks!

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hi A., I sent lunchables with my daycare child who was in kendrgarden, and the school was very pleased with his lunches. J. L.

Have you tried making wraps out of whole grain tortillas? My daughter thinks it neat. Pita's are a good substitute too. I have done whole wheat crackers with lunch meat and cheese slices. Home made lunchables! Sometimes just a small container of pasta salad. How about fruit and veggies kabobs? or even cheese and meat chunks?

Get out the cookie cutters! Cut her sandwiches in new shapes or try different flavors of jam. Or try putting peanut butter on a tortilla and rolling it up with a banana or make her sandwich on pita bread. Kids love to dip, so try sending along some dressing that she can dip carrots or celery in.

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I asked this question a while ago, and got great reponses. Here is a link to them:
Good luck

1 mom found this helpful

Make your own lunchables! Get little cookie cutters and cut out bread, cheese and meat or include crackers instead of bread. There are so many healthy choices out there right now. Cliff makes a new fruit rope (one = 1 serving of fruit) they are at Costco. Dr. Sears just came out with Popums - a great healthy and yummy snack, you can find them at Henry's.
Make pasta and sprinkle parm. cheese on it (does not need to be heated up). Veggies with dip (hummus dip if she likes it). Chicken or tuna salad and crackers. I could go on but kids need to go to bed!

Get creative and have fun! A good site I came across at one time is www.laptoplunches.com , lots of good ideas there.

Best wishes!

1 mom found this helpful

I was having the same problem. My daughter wouldn't eat sandwiches at all. Her favorite new thing is a bowl of healthy cereal and milk. She gets to pour the milk onto the cereal at lunch time. She always eats it all. Sometimes I pack her a bagel and some cream cheese with a little kiddie knife and she can spread the cream cheese onto the bagel. Other times, I pack her a home-made lunchable with ham, cheese and whole grain crackers. And finally, sometimes it's leftovers like pasta or pizza or soup. Her school will warm things up. Good luck!

Hi, A.. This is a fairly easy thing if your daughter is an adventurous eater but it's difficult if she's picky (I have a picky kid and an adventurous one so I'm still trying to find magic sack-lunch solutions for the picky one, too)! My kids will eat: grapes, cheese sticks (or to save money sometimes I buy a big 2-lb block of cheese at Costco and cut it into sticks or thick slices myself): hard-boiled eggs (I peel them then wrap them in plastic wrap); prepackaged fruit cups (buy on sale and also watch the sugar content); turkey or ham with or without cheese but wrapped in a tortilla (wrap in plastic) rather than in a sandwich, this might be enough of a change for her. My kids will also eat raw nuts (bought in the bulk section at Winco to save $$); granola/protein bars (read labels to get high protein and relatively low sugar); whole-wheat crackers (with or without peanut butter -- my husband makes them a bunch of tiny little peanut butter "sandwiches" on crackers). Things I WISH my kids would eat in their sack lunches: whole raw fruits such as bananas, apples or nectarines; cups of tuna or chicken salad; chunks of grilled chicken leftover from dinner; baby carrots. Try any of those and see what she likes. Good for you for resisting those prepackaged lunchables. They are expensive and have very little nutrition! Better that she never gets accustomed to them. Good luck. ... Oh, wait, two more things my kids have happily eaten for lunches: tortellini (no sauce) left over from dinner, and also chunks of watermelon (I packed them in a baggie and gave them a plastic fork to eat them with ... re-using a Tupperware container would be better but they tend to lose these items so for now we are stuck with disposable things).

hi A., I sent lunchables with my daycare child who was in kendrgarden, and the school was very pleased with his lunches. J. L.

Wait a minute! Is this the same kid you posted the "afraid to eat" question about? Seems like we are getting mixed messages here. If she will eat Lunchables, she can't be too afraid to eat. Sounds like the eating problem is with you more than with her. Stop fighting with her about food and I'm guessing the problem will magically go away.

About school lunches. My son has never liked sandwiches either, so we go with finger food most of the time. Cheddar cheese slices, strips of chicken breast or turkey, bean and cheese quesadillas (he loves those and does not care that they are cold by lunchtime)... Veggie slices and dip. Crackers and hummus. Cubes of melon, or sliced fruit. We often get creative and his lunches do not look like other kid's lunches but he doesn't care.

Hi A.-

I have a 12year old who is extremely picky (sorry!) and what I give is peanut butter & celery, peanut butter saltines crackers, & yogurt.

I'm looking forward to going on the sites that previous mom's have mentioned.

Good Luck!

My kids like me to Roll-up the turkey meat and place in a sandwich bag.

Make turkey salad from the can, the white meat packed in water.. mix with a little mayo, mustard and pickle relish... spread on wheat crackers or bread

Freeze the Go-Gurt. By the lunch time, it will be cold and thawed.

Mini pancakes... warm the frozen ones, place in foil and serve with an applesauce cup.

Chicken Nuggets.... warm, place in foil

Hot dogs.... warm in microwave in bun... place in foil

Get a small kid size thermos bowl (Target $6) Serve spaghettios, ravioli, chunky noodle soup....

happy eating,

Hi A.!
I apologize in advance if I repeat any of the ideas you've already received; I haven't read responses to your question yet. Here's what I pack in my 11-year-old's lunch: cold cut sandwich w/o mayo (today I varied it by using a tortilla instead of bread), grapes or raisins; wheat thins, applesauce or maybe an orange; sometimes animal crackers and possibly a processed fruit snack or fruit roll-up in addition to two juice pouches frozen so they keep the perishable food cold. He also likes a small bag of nuts, but be careful 'cause a lot of kids seem to have allergies. Some ideas I may also try are the following: waffles or pancakes, Just Tomatoes Veggies found at Henry's, cold leftovers from the dinner before, egg salad, celery w/ peanut butter, string cheese, yogurt cups, hard boiled eggs, or maybe a make-in-yourself trail mix.
Good luck!

Well, I had to get cookie cutters and cut her sandwiches up into designs. We have a flower, a heart, a star, and a circle. We aren't allowed to send her with lunchables. We have to send only healthy food for her. School policy. So, she gets a fruit, a veggie snack, a sandwhich and maybe a string cheese or a few graham crackers. Good luck.

what about wraps? pitas? nan bread? sourdough bread? french bread? pasta? the un-taco? un-spaghetti? there are so many options.

My daughters favourites are the following:
cold pasta salad (favourite organic pasta with veggies and the topping of their choice)
wraps - cheese, veggies and hummus
french bread with cheese and hummus
sourdough bread filled with veggies
IsaLean Protein bar in chocolate peanut butter or yogurt raisin

DO NOT FEED those prepackaged lunch kits. You might find it "easier" right now, but the long term effects on your child will not be worth it.

I would love to chat if you want.

B. H., B.A.:B.Ed.
Family Nutrition Coach

Get out the cookie cutters! Cut her sandwiches in new shapes or try different flavors of jam. Or try putting peanut butter on a tortilla and rolling it up with a banana or make her sandwich on pita bread. Kids love to dip, so try sending along some dressing that she can dip carrots or celery in.

You can make your own healthier "lunchables". Buy some hormone free delimeat, then cut it up at home into chunks. Add some all natural cheese chunks, a few slices of fruit, and some organic rice crackers or Bunny Grahams. Put it all into a plastic container with dividers in it, and voila! Your own organic/healthy lunchable!

I need to take my own advice here and make these for my preschool kiddo :)! Why didn't I think of this before?????

Make your own lunchable with healthy cookies and fruite lunch meat veggies ect.

Unless there was a handy microwave the only suggestion I have is cold pastas. There are all types of different cold pastas you can make, with vegetables and italian dressing. Or a cold pasta salad with shells and a marinara sauce. There is also tortilla wraps, wrap both ends folded in and then cut them in half, or since your daugheter is yound do the small flour tortillas and put ham and cheese and just roll it the width of a taquito. Make sure you heat the tortilla a little bit first so it is easily folded. Hope that helps!

I like the idea of lunchables, but refuse to buy them because they're unhealthy and expensive. I put sliced turkey, cheese, crackers and applesauce in reusable containers in my son's lunch, and he loves it. It's like a lunchables, but cheaper and healthier for him. :)

My son is 9 and he would rather take his lunch than eat at school. He loves lettuce roll ups. Free range sliced turkey without nitrates rolled in a piece of lettuce. sometimes Ill add a lite string cheese in the middle. My son also likes to help me make pinwheel sandwiches. Using a large spinach tortilla or any other fun colored flat bread, we spread laughing cow cheese over the whole piece, then he adds whatever topping he wants, shaved carrots, turkey, olives, sprouts, sliced whole almonds. Then roll it up real tight an slice it like a sushi roll. he loves to see what the end result looks like depending on what we put in the middle. good luck. . .

Take her to the store and have her show you which lunchables she likes. You don't have to buy them, just buy the equivelant and make up your own lunchable for her. In this way, you know exactly what she is getting in her lunches and she will eat them.


it really depends on how much your child eats. I send my son with crackers and cheese, broccoli and ranch dip, grapes, bananas, apple slices, also try peanut butter and banana sandwiches-finger size, or ritz crackers with jelly and peanut butter to dip with.

make up your own lunchables!! Get a little container and cut up the meat and cheese that you would normally give her and put in some crackers that are good for her. put in some fruit snacks or somethin and a juice box.
Kids like the idea of doing it themselves. If she is anything like my kids they all had to do things for themselves to know they could do it. Only now that they are teenagers they want me to do everything cuz they are lazy, LOL
The way we present the food to our kids is a way to get them to eat it much easier. I used to cut thier sandwiches in all kinds of different shapes. Get creative on how you put things in her lunch box. It will make it more fun for her and she will be the talk of the lunch room. :O)
Good luck

Check out www.lunchboxco.com TEL: 888.461.7774

It is a wonderful service that provides HEALTHY lunches delivered to your child's school or preschool at a reasonable proce.

We love it!

make your own lunchable type meal for her. also whats great is to give her a little yogurt to dip gram crackersor fruit in or peanut butter works too. give her the selection of what vegies and fruit she wants to take. good luck

I bake chicken pieces and keep them in a bag in the refrigerator. My daughter will eat a piece of chicken for lunch maybe with an apple.

Peanut butter is always a good choice, in all it's many forms.
Include a juice box or milk money.

This has always been a challenge for me, too. My kids just ate the "treats" out of the lunchables and left the nutritious stuff like meat and cheese behind. Fact is, those things really aren't that tasty. Try eating the make-it-yourself pizza lunch and see what you think. Not very nutritious and YUCCH!!! But they look interesting and kids ask for them anyway.

My older daughter has started coming home and asking for lunchables too. She only gets one once a week. When I explained that Mommy puts love into your lunches, she was more accepting when the boys say "ick" to some of her lunches. One of the lunches I send with her is california rolls (my almost 3 year old just eats sushi rice balls with cucumber and krab on the side) and I usually put in a soy sauce packet, soy beans (some opened already) and seasoned nori (in a jar from Vons). When it's colder, I change the CA rolls to udon noodle soup with fishcake (also at Vons - it's pink & white so girls love it). Another thing my girls like are crackers, veggie spread and slices of cucumbers (heart shaped) & carrots (oval shaped) to make butterfly crackers. I also found some sandwich cutters in the shape of 2 dinosaurs to liven up plain sandwiches. I also have a recipe for a Chinese noodle salad, but haven't tried it at home yet to see if its a keeper. If your DD likes salads, you could also try a Chinese chicken salad with lettuce, teriyaki chicken cubes, pea pods, shredded carrots, mandarin oranges & crunchy rice noodles. I usually make their lunches while I'm making dinner the night before, so I just throw in an ice pack and go in the AM. Hope this helps a little.

Have you tried making wraps out of whole grain tortillas? My daughter thinks it neat. Pita's are a good substitute too. I have done whole wheat crackers with lunch meat and cheese slices. Home made lunchables! Sometimes just a small container of pasta salad. How about fruit and veggies kabobs? or even cheese and meat chunks?

My kids like pasta salad with chopped up ham or salami. i will also wrap up lunch meat in a tortilla. Sometimes I make our own lunchables with cut up lunch meat, crackers, cut up cheese.

Hi A.,

When my son was that age I used to prepare him apple slices, cheese cubes, pickles, crackers .. mix it up, you know? His absolute favorite (even now at 11) are "cheese rolls" I use nitrate free lunch meat, a slice of krafy cheese and rool it up, securing with a tooth pick. My son just loves them :)

Good luck!!

Initially my daughter was intrigued by the concept of a Lunchable. We finally figured out together that what she really liked about it was the "cute" factor of the meat in little shapes and that you could easily see all the contents.

Our healthier (and less expensive solution):
We bought a Laptop Lunches system. There are four separate compartments for different foods, and the best thing of all - they can see all the options at once. My daughter started eating a lot more when she stopped having to lift up the baggies and open the foil packages to see what was inside. For some reason it's really appealing to the kids to have it separate and easy to access.

I also brainstormed with her to come up with a (long) list of things she liked to eat for lunch - everything I approved of (no junk food, no trans fats) was put into categories: grains, fruit/veg, protein. Every week I print the list and highlight what choices are available; then each day she chooses one grain, two fruit/veg and one protein for that day's lunch. We're also big on packing leftovers from our dinner as we're cleaning up from dinner - pasta, grilled meat, salad - which has made her the envy of the lunch table. We also put yummy leftovers in a thermos - pasta, homemade fried rice, soup - that's so good on a cold day.

It's so easy, she's started to pack her own lunch occasionally - bonus!

Good luck!

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