When it comes to school lunches, my biggest concern is that my kids have nourishing food to eat while they are at school. I want them to have healthy school lunches, but I don’t care if they are cute or packed in a clever way, and you better believe I’m not going to spend time turning their food into art. My hat is tipped to the moms who do that, but for me it falls under the category of “ain’t nobody got time for that.” My goal is to keep their school lunches as simple as possible while keeping them as nutrient-dense as I can.
I have two kids to pack lunches for this year. Meghan is in 2nd grade and brings her lunch to school everyday, and while Luke is in preschool, he’ll be attending full day Monday through Wednesday. Meghan would be happy with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich every day, but Luke wouldn’t eat one if I sent it. They are very different eaters and I’m sure your kids are, too. These healthy school lunch ideas are designed for variety. Even though Meghan wants a PB&J everyday doesn’t mean I should send that everyday. Even though I do send favorites often, I try to mix it up so they are getting different food combinations each day.
The last two years I have perfected the art of sending the right amount of food. At Meghan’s school, they are given 15 minutes to eat. This includes the time it takes to walk into the cafeteria and sit down and chatting with friends. Whenever food would come home uneaten, I heard, “I didn’t have time.” Older kids may need more food, but the amounts shown are what I’ve found to be perfect for her. I will find out this year if Luke needs a different amount as he’ll have more time to eat.
Two Weeks of Healthy School Lunch Ideas
- High Protein Energy Bites
- Baby carrot sticks
- Hard boiled egg
The High Protein Energy Bites are made with chickpeas, almonds, peanut butter, honey, and chocolate chips. Although they seem like a treat, they are packed with nutrients. I’m so glad both my kids like hard boiled eggs, as they are also packed with nutrients and a good protein option. Every lunch I try to include a vegetable and fruit, and usually the vegetables are raw as that is my kids’ preference.
- 2-ingredient Sweet Potato Pancakes with almond butter
- Trail mix
My kids are fine with eating these 2-ingredient Sweet Potato Pancakes cold. They are perfect with a smear of nut butter! These can be made ahead of time, making packing this lunch super easy.
- 5-ingredient blender muffins
- baby carrots
The blender muffins are made with nut butter, eggs, and banana, but are customizable to be nut-free and vegan. There are so many flavor combinations you can make of these and we never get tired of them. They make an easy lunch box option and some fruits and veggies round out the lunch.
- Spinach leaves
- Red peppers
- Apple slices
- Horizon Organic Snack Crackers
This is the closest I can come to get my kids to eat salad. For whatever reason, they prefer everything separated and to eat it plain. They dislike any salad dressings, but hummus is okay. If your kids like salad dressing, include that instead. I prevent the apple from getting brown by adding lemon juice. Both of my kids love, love, love crackers. I guess that’s most kids, right? My kids consider crackers a special treat, and I let them have some with their lunch about once a week. I always opt for organic when buying store-bought crackers. These ones from Horizon are a favorite and it’s a bonus that they have a decent amount of calcium and protein.
- Carrot Cake Oatmeal Muffin
- Sugar Snap Peas
Whole grain muffins do not have to be just for breakfast! They can make a nutritious lunch addition, as well. Shown is my Oatmeal Carrot Cake Muffins, but there are so many different healthy muffin choices for a healthy school lunch, you’re sure to find a favorite for your kids. I love having muffins in the freezer so I always have them for a lunch option if needed.
- Corn tortillas
- Red bell peppers
- Horizon Organic Shredded Mexican Cheese
- Black Beans
Just like my kids eat their salads deconstructed, they also prefer their tacos that way. They don’t mind room-temperature black beans, so these are straight from the can (drained and rinsed) with a little salt added. When it comes to animal products, organic is very important to me. Horizon Organic cheese is a great, reasonably priced brand that I feel good buying knowing their cows are treated humanely and given a diet of grass and organic hay and feed that is not contaminated with pesticides.
- Horizon Organic cheese stick
- Sugar Snap Peas
- Chocolate Chips
This is a “little of this, little of that” lunch that works well. Once in a while I add a special treat of chocolate chips into their lunch and it’s always met with huge appreciation.
- Whole grain naan bread
- Red peppers
These chickpeas are pan fried in a little bit of oil with salt. They are so delicious like this! My kids prefer these warm, so I send them in a insulated thermos. Whole grain naan bread is another favorite. You should be able to find whole grain naan bread at most well-stocked grocery stores.
- Hard boiled eggs
- Horizon Organic Peanut Butter Sandwich Crackers
- Pumpkin seeds
Hard-boiled eggs make another appearance. If you aren’t convinced of their nutritional status, check out this post. Lots of nutrients in eggs! The crunchy treat in this lunch is the Horizon Peanut Butter Sandwich Crackers. My kids beg me for these. When they see I buy them, squeals in the kitchen. It’s kind of crazy how much my kids like crackers. Of course, there’s fresh fruits and vegetables to round out the lunch and a few pumpkin seeds, which are a great source of zinc.
- Horizon Organic macaroni and cheese
Good ol’ mac-n-cheese. If I’m being honest, I have to tell you I love it as much as my kids. I often make homemade macaroni and cheese, but for a quick lunch option, I love a boxed version. I look for it to be totally organic (both the wheat and the cheese, not just the wheat) and Meghan loves the shells and white cheddar. I send it in an insulated thermos to keep it warm. Grapes and raw broccoli round out the lunch.
In order to make lunch packing as quick and easy as possible, I typically cut fruits and vegetables ahead of time. Then I have different varieties ready in the fridge to mix and match to create a healthy school lunch for my kids. I use an easy formula of protein source+fruit+vegetable+another add-in if needed to make lunch packing simple.
School lunches are important because the nutrients our kids get from lunch are fueling their learning for the rest of the day and also helping build their immune system to keep them healthy and in school! I hope these healthy school lunch ideas inspire you to create lunches that are nutritious and your kids love!
Horizon Organics definitely help me create lunches that make my kids happy. Follow them on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter , or Pinterest for more organic meal and snack ideas for kids! You can also sign up for their newsletter here.
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This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Horizon Organic. The opinions and text are all mine.