You wouldn’t intentionally send your kids to school with a bag of sugar in their lunch box, but many of the pre-made, ready-to-eat lunch box foods are just that—mostly sugar. In the morning rush of getting littles ready and out the door, coming up with new and healthy lunch box ideas for teens and kids is can easily fall to the bottom of the priority list. The way we see it, the perfect school lunch has to meet three basic criteria: healthy, easy, and something kids will actually eat. We know that’s a tall order, so we’re offering you some of our favorite healthy lunchbox ideas.
Your kids will love these lunchbox ideas for school. They will fill them up, keep them focused and healthy, and don’t involve you cutting sandwiches and fruit with tiny cookie cutters. Unless, of course, that’s your thing. In which case, we say, carry on. But if you want healthy, simple, and easy lunchbox ideas, we’ve got you covered.
Quick And Easy Lunchbox Ideas For School
The morning madness is real. Whether you have one kid, or six, it always feels like chaos. Wake up, get dressed, eat breakfast, and do hair. Did you pack your homework? What do you mean you need to bring a dozen muffins today? Why are you only wearing one shoe? Didn’t I already do your hair? And now we’re late.
If that sounds familiar, you’re not alone. Trying to alleviate some of the madness by opting for easy lunchbox ideas often means opting for less healthy alternatives. But it doesn’t have to be that way. We’ve rounded up a few of our favorite simple lunchbox ideas for kids that are easy on you and tasty and healthy for them. Put these in rotation at your house; it will be one less thing to think about in the morning.
- Leftovers: This is the ninja of quick lunchbox ideas. Why reinvent the wheel for lunch? Grab some leftovers from last night or the night before, and repurpose them for lunch. (We’ll talk more later about how to pack them.)
- Homemade Lunchable: Kids love assembling things. Crackers, cheese slices, and some lunch meat are all it takes for this winner of a healthy lunchbox idea.
- Hummus, Veggies, and Pita Chips: Want to get your kids to eat their veggies? Give them something to dip them in and they will gobble them up. Hummus is a healthy dipping option with veggies and pita chips. You can even throw in some rotisserie chicken pieces to add some protein to the mix.
- Pasta: It’s no secret that kids love pasta. Tortellini, pesto pasta, and spaghetti with meat sauce (with some veggies hidden) are all fairly healthy ways to enjoy pasta for lunch. The best part is you can make it ahead of time and throw it in for a few days for quick lunchbox ideas.
- DIY Nachos: Remember how we said kids love assembling things? That rule applies here too. Add some whole grain tortilla chips, shredded cheese, cooked and seasoned ground turkey, Greek yogurt (instead of sour cream), and some guacamole, and you’ve got a build-your-own nacho lunchbox.
- DIY Tacos: Again, with the building things. This is the same as the DIY nachos, except with tortillas or taco shells. You can add some shredded lettuce and diced tomatoes, too, if your kids will go for those, and you’ve got one more healthy lunchbox idea.
- Chicken Salad and Crackers: Chicken salad isn’t always healthy, but if you make this chicken salad ahead of time, you can put together a healthy version that goes well on crackers and will be gobbled up in no time.
- Peanut Butter and Banana Roll-Ups: These are always a real crowd-pleaser. Spread peanut butter on the inside of a whole wheat tortilla. Drop a banana in the middle, roll it up, slice it, and enjoy. If you’re worried about the banana turning brown, hold off on slicing it, or add a little lemon juice.
Using Essential Oils For Lunchbox Ideas
Your kids can use all the help they can get to stay healthy. That’s why we love healthy lunchbox ideas that include essential oils. Add one or two of these to their lunch, or have them for an afternoon snack to give your kids a little boost.
- Cinnamon Bark Apples: These cinnamon bark apples are easy to prep ahead of time and keep on hand for an easy healthy lunchbox snack or an after-school treat. They use Cinnamon Bark essential oil, which helps promote a healthy immune system when ingested.*
- Cinnamon Almond Granola: You’ve never had granola until you’ve had homemade granola. It’s easier to make than you think, and this cinnamon almond granola recipe uses cinnamon bark oil to make it extra healthy and delicious.
- Wild Orange Power Bites: These protein packed snacks can be made and stored in the fridge for up to a week. They use Wild Orange essential oil which invigorates and supports a healthy inflammatory response when taken internally.*
- Granola Bars: As we mentioned earlier, granola bars can be hit or miss on a healthy scale. However, these homemade granola bars with Tangerine oil are a definite hit and support a healthy immune system too.*
- Infused Water: One of the EASIEST ways to get your kids excited about essential oils is to add a few drops to their water bottles. A refreshing citrus or mint flavoring will make their water fun and bring them added benefits too.
- Cranberry Wild Orange Muffins: Kids love a good muffin, and these cranberry wild orange muffins are delicious! Grab the recipe and your Wild Orange essential oil, and make them with your kids for an afternoon snack or lunch box treat.
Healthy And Nutritious Lunch Box Snacks
Now that you’ve mastered the easy ideas for school lunches let’s talk about snack time. Finding healthy lunchbox snacks might be harder than finding healthy lunch ideas. It’s easy to throw a bag of chips or a packet of fruit snacks into the lunchbox, but those won’t give your kids the energy they need to make it through the day. Instead, try one of these healthy lunchbox snack ideas. You can use them for snack time or to round out their lunch.
- Fruit: What to make grabbing fruit easier for your kids? Pre-cut strawberries for the week and wash the rest for easy snacking. Preparing fruit also makes it easy to grab for school lunches and snacks. Investing in an apple slicer can also make prep work easy.
- Veggies and Hummus: We mentioned this earlier as kid's lunch ideas for school, but this healthy lunchbox idea works for a snack or a main dish. Put some baby carrots, broccoli, cut-up peppers, snap peas, or baby cucumbers in with some hummus. You can even pre-portion your hummus and veggies to make them easy to grab in the morning.
- Nuts: This won’t work for every kid or in every classroom, but nuts are full of healthy fats and protein to keep your kids full and energized. Plus, they’re easy to pack.
- Cheese and Crackers: We don’t mean the crackers with the little red stick and spreadable cheese. Those don’t qualify as healthy lunchbox snacks. But some whole grain crackers with slices of cheddar, or the cheese of their choice, is a healthy snack idea.
- Granola Bar: Many granola bars have extra sugar, making them more like a candy bar than a healthy snack. However, healthy granola bar options have whole grains, protein, and less sugar.
- Hard-Boiled Egg: Hard-boiled eggs aren’t just for Easter. They make great healthy lunchbox snacks or meals, and best of all, they are easy to make ahead and store.
- Greek Yogurt with Jam: Greek yogurt is packed with protein and low in sugar but lacks flavor. When you add a bit of jam to it and let them swirl it around, you’ve got a tasty snack they will love.
- Popcorn: Whether you make it yourself or buy the healthy version, popcorn can be a great source of fiber for kids. Just make sure you go easy on the salt and butter.
- Applesauce: Applesauce can be healthy or unhealthy, depending on the brand you buy. Beware of the kinds with added sugar. Instead, opt for jars or pouches that are mostly just apples and minimal preservatives and flavoring.
Creative And Allergy-Friendly Lunchbox Ideas
If your child or someone in their class or school has dietary restrictions or allergies, you may need to get creative with your kids' lunch ideas for school. If your child has restrictions, you know the importance of keeping them safe. It’s equally important to follow any snack and lunchbox ideas the school provides to help keep other children safe. But even though you’re limited in your choices, your lunchbox ideas for kids still need to be exciting. Here are a few healthy lunchbox ideas for school that are also allergy-friendly lunchbox ideas:
Dairy-Free Lunchbox Ideas
Tips For Packing And Maintaining Fresh Lunch Boxes
Healthy lunchbox ideas include more fresh foods, which can pose a packing challenge. Foods must be kept in the proper containers and stored at the right temperatures to keep them fresh and maintain food safety. Then there is the task of keeping the actual lunchbox clean and sanitized. That’s a whole other issue. Here are some of our favorite tips for packing, storing, and cleaning lunch boxes and storage containers.
- Empty Backpacks Right Away: After-school chaos can be as real as before-school chaos. The kids come bursting through the door and leave a trail of papers, shoes, and bags behind them. Get into the habit of having them clean their backpacks out right away. This will save you from discovering a gross situation that will inevitably add to the morning scramble and thwart any lunchbox ideas for school you had in mind.
- Don’t Heat Food Up: Don’t bother heating food up. If you’re sending leftovers, leave it in the fridge until the last minute, and then pack them as is. It will come to room temperature by lunchtime, which is usually perfect.
- Freeze Foods: Freeze the foods you can to help keep other food cold. Foods like sandwiches, muffins, yogurts, and apple sauce are healthy lunchbox ideas and freeze nicely. Throw them in the lunchbox, and they will be thawed by lunchtime but will have helped keep other food cold in the meantime.
- Use Ice Packs: If you’re sending fruit or make-ahead lunch box ideas that need to be kept cold, placing one ice pack on the bottom of the food and one on the top will help keep the whole lunch cool. Just make sure the ice packs get returned to the freezer after school each day.
- Freeze Water Bottles: You can also use a water bottle as an ice pack. Fill it halfway and freeze it, then fill it the rest of the way with water in the morning. It will act as an ice pack and offer refreshing cold water.
Healthy Lunchbox Ideas Lead To Healthy Habits
As it turns out, healthy lunchbox ideas can be easy too. Keep some of these ideas handy to make your morning routine easy. Test them out on your kids and find their favorites. Not only will you be keeping them healthy, but you’ll be teaching them a valuable lesson about prioritizing their health. And when you can, work doTERRA’s oils and other products into their diet to give them an extra health boost. We are committed to providing high-quality, pure essential oils to your family to truly enrich their lives.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.