Children sitting at a school table, eating lunch
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Lunches

20 Easy Lunch Box Ideas

Aug 16, 2017

Packing lunches isn’t typically the most loved parenting task — especially when they come home uneaten! This can lead to trouble focusing and concentrating at school, and a not-so-stellar after school attitude. But packing lunches doesn’t have to be monotonous or frustrating. It can be enjoyable and rewarding, especially when you involve your children in the process. 

Get out of the school lunch rut by trying some of these ideas:


Leftover French Toast

When you make French toast on the weekend, make extra and freeze it. Send it in lunches, sliced into strips and paired with Greek yogurt and fruit.


Leftover Tortellini Or Ravioli With Dip

Leftover stuffed pasta is fun to eat, especially with a yummy dip such as marinara or tzatziki sauce.


Snack-Inspired Bento Box

A container with many compartments filled with snacks like popcorn, cheerios, carrots, tomatoes and wraps

Send a bento box full of your children’s favourite snack foods, such as cheese cubes, whole grain crackers, cut-up fruit, Greek yogurt, trail mix, veggies and hummus, roasted chickpeas, edamame beans and homemade mini muffins or granola bars.


You'll Also Love: DIY Lunchables (The Healthier Way)


Stuffed Mini Pitas

Instead of sending the same old sandwich, send mini whole grain pitas stuffed with leftover meat, egg salad or cheese and veggies.


Build-It-Yourself Yogurt Parfait

Send your children’s favourite yogurt with fixings like granola, muesli, shredded coconut, dried fruit and seeds.


You'll Also Love: Yogurt Parfait Popsicles


Make-Your-Own "Crackerwiches"

Cracker sandwiches are so much fun to make and eat. Include fillings like meat, cheese and spreads, and send disassembled so that your children can build them at school.


Popcorn

Popcorn is a high-fibre, nutritious and fun snack to eat. Why not add it to school lunches?


You'll Also Love: Pastel Candied Popcorn


Mock Sushi

Using a whole wheat tortilla wrap, choose a spread (e.g. pumpkin seed butter, cream cheese, hummus or tzatziki sauce), add nutritious fillings (e.g. cheese, meat, fruit or veggie strips), roll  and cut into sushi-like bites.


Leftover Whole Grain Pancakes

Homemade pancakes freeze well, so they make great additions to school lunches. I often cut them into strips or bite-sized pieces and pair them with yogurt, fruit and a bit of maple syrup.


Hummus

A bowl of hummus

It’s amazing how much yummier veggies become when they’re paired with a delicious dip. Bonus: hummus contains protein and fibre, which will keep tummies full longer.


You'll Also Love: Zucchini Hummus


Cheese And Fruit Kabobs

Stick cheese cubes, alternating with cut-up fruit, on a small skewer or toothpick and pair with Greek yogurt for a dip.


Homemade Nut-Free Granola Bars

Instead of store-bought, send homemade versions made with ingredients like seeds, dried fruit, oats, whole grain flour and lentils. A great recipe your kids will love are these Lunch Box Granola Bars.


You'll Also Love: No-Bake Nut-Free Crispy Chewy Honey Granola Bars


Nut-Free Trail Mix

Seeds contain the same nutritious benefits as nuts and are school-safe. Combine pumpkin and sunflower seeds with unsweetened dried fruit and whole grain cereal for a delicious snack.


Homemade Mini Muffins

Muffins are always more fun when they’re bite-sized!


You'll Also Love: Basic Yogurt Muffins


"Applewiches"

Slice a whole apple into thin, vertical slices (taking out the core) and layer with cheese or seed butters for a different, more nutritious sandwich.


Fruit Dip

Dip isn’t just for veggies. Mixing vanilla greek yogurt with some pumpkin seed butter and cinnamon makes for a yummy (and nutritious) fruit dip.


Roasted Chickpeas

A bowl of spiced roasted chickpeas

Rinse and dry canned chickpeas, toss in a little bit of oil, add your seasoning of choice and roast at 375 F for about 15-20 minutes (turning once). Your kids will love this crunchy snack.


You'll Also Love: Crispy Roasted Chickpeas


Leftover Mac And Cheese “Muffins”

Thaw leftover mac and cheese, transfer to muffin tins, sprinkle on some cheese and bake at 350 F until golden brown on top.


Chia Pudding

This more nutritious version of traditional pudding is a hit with my kids. Try my recipe for Coconut Banana Chia Pudding.


Edamame Beans

These delicious beans are high in protein, fibre and folate, as well as many more nutrients.


Sometimes the smallest change makes the biggest difference. For my son, adding more variety, being more creative and giving him some say has made a huge difference in his willingness to gobble up his lunch.

Article Author Sarah Remmer
Sarah Remmer

Sarah Remmer, RD is a pediatric registered dietitian and owner of Sarah Remmer Nutrition Consulting, a nutrition consulting and communications company based in Calgary, Alberta. Her website and blog contain practical tips and advice for parents and families on feeding and nutrition (everything from pre-natal nutrition to teens), as well as nutritious and easy recipes and videos. Follow Sarah on Facebook for free advice, tips and family-friendly recipes!

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