10 Quick & Easy Back-to-School Healthy Lunchbox Ideas

10 Quick & Easy Back-to-School Healthy Lunchbox Ideas

Back-to-School. Let’s be honest, as a parent, you might have some mixed feeling about this post-summer. It is great to have the kids back in school, back on their regular routine but it means a lot of work as parents! We need to be more organized with the many emails, school apps, and letters that come home we need to keep organized. We also have extra-curricular activities and the daily lunchbox we need to be on top of. Finding that balance of healthy lunch ideas that your kids will actually eat so you don’t end up throwing them out when they bring their lunchbox home, while it is quick and easy can sometimes be a challenge. OR how do we get the variety of nutrition our kids need when they are rigid and want to eat the same thing for lunch every day? Whew, lunches can come with a lot of pressure for us parents.

I have 10 lunchbox ideas, healthy snack recipes, and a list of Healthier prepacked snacks you can buy when you are short on time.  I hope these recipes and shopping ideas reduces your time planning and stressing about “what to pack for lunch?” this fall and these become helpful tools in your parent toolbox this year. You’ve got this!

10 Healthy Lunchbox Ideas:

Lunch #1: Pinwheels, Apple, Cherry Tomatoes, and Trailmix

  • Ingredients:
    • 1 large whole wheat tortilla
    • nitrate-free deli meat of choice
    • 2-3 oz laughing bell cheese
    • 1/4 of a yellow bell pepper diced
    • 1-2 leaves of lettuce
    • 1 small apple
    • 1/2- 1 cup of cherry tomatoes
    • 1/4 cup Trailmix (great options in the bulk section of making your own).

    Lunch Prep Instructions:

    1. Mix Laughing Bell cheese and diced bell pepper and spread over the tortilla
    2. Lay in deli meat. If your kids will go for it add in some lettuce too (getting in more veggies where you can). Roll it up and cut into pinwheels or cut in half for a roll-up and lay into your lunch container.
    3. Place cherry tomatoes into the container and add a small apple
    4. Trail Mix, I also pre-portion into small snack baggies or containers so the kids can grab these from the fridge and put them in the lunch bags themselves. The more we get kids involved in their own nutrition at a young age the better.

Lunch #2: Cheese Quesadilla, Salsa, Snap Peas, Melon Balls, and No-Bake Energy Balls. 

Ingredients:

 

Lunch Prep Instructions:

  1. I place 1 tortilla in a non-stick skillet over low medium heat, fill with cheese and cover with the other tortilla. I let it heat up for about 3-5 minutes and then using a spatula flip and cook on the other side for an additional 2 minutes.
  2. Once the cheese has melted, I place it onto a cutting board and cut it into 4 equal pieces and put into a to-go container with a small container of salsa for dipping.
  3. I pre-portion out the snap peas and melon into to-go containers or bags on Sunday (I get the kids to help!) and then they are easy to toss into the lunch box for the week.
  4. I meal prep the energy balls on the weekend and keep them in the freezer for 2 weeks worth of lunches. I take 2-3 out of the freezer and place them in a bag or to-go container so by lunch they are ready to eat.

 

Lunch #3: Protein Kabobs, Red Pepper Slices with Tzatziki, Pear, Fruit Leather. 

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 oz cooked chicken, cubed
  • 1/4- 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 3-4 oz cubed cheese
  • 2-4 kabob sticks
  • 1/2 red pepper cored and cut into strips
  • 1/4 cup tzatziki sauce (bought or homemade)
  • 1 small pear
  • 1-2 fruit leathers (these are not all equal! make your own with my easy recipe here or buy one that is organic and uses real fruit. Sugar should not be in the top 5 ingredients).

 

Lunch Prep Instructions:

  1. In a pattern, I place chicken, cheese, and tomatoes on a kabab stick. You can turn them into sandwich kabobs by adding cucumber slices and bread too. I usually lay them on a bed of lettuce in a lunchbox container. 2-3 kabobs based on the age of the child.
  2. Slice red peppers and store in the fridge in a container or pre-portion dip and veggies into snack bags with dip containers so even the littlest of fingers can help pack their lunch.
  3. Add in a pear and your fruit leathers for a balanced lunch box.

 

Lunch #4: Chicken Salad Pita, Fruit Salad, Cucumber Sticks, Granola bar. 

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 oz of cooked cubed chicken
  • 1 tbsp of avocado mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp mustard
  • 1 celery, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 whole-grain pita or wrap
  • 1/2 cup of fruit salad (check out my recipe here!)
  • 1 cup of cucumber sticks
  • 1 Granola Bar, buy a good quality one or save money and make your own, check out my Healthy Homemade Granola Bar recipe here). 

Lunch Prep Instructions:

  1. I mix the chicken, mayo, mustard, celery salt and pepper in a bowl. Fill the pita or wrap and place in a sandwich bag or lunch container.
  2. I like to mix the fruit salad up on Sunday for the week ahead. This way I can scoop a serving into a smaller lunch container and pack it into the lunch kit.
  3. Add a little container of cucumber sticks for some extra veggies and a granola bar for a sweet treat.

Lunch #5: Hard Boiled Eggs, Carrots + Hummus, Grapes, Pretzels or Popcorn  

Ingredients:

Lunch Prep Instructions:

  1. When time and money is tight I love this lunch. I put on a pot of eggs and boil for 6-8 minutes. Store in the fridge in an airtight container for the week.
  2. I add carrots, hummus, and 2 eggs into a divided bento lunch container.
  3. Add in a bag of popcorn and a medium apple and you have a simple but balanced lunch.

Lunch #6: Almond Butter + Jelly (or PB +J) Roll-ups, Orange Slices, Cucumber Slices, No-Bake Energy Balls

Ingredients:

Lunch Prep Instructions:

  1. Spread out nut butter, jam, and roll up the wrap. You can cut it in half or cut them smaller so they are like pinwheels for little fingers.
  2. Add orange wedges and cucumber slices as recess snacks they can take with them on the playground.
  3. Add 2-3 trail mix energy balls into a little container for some healthy fats, good fiber, and a little sweet treat.

Lunch #7: Seedy Crackers + Cheddar Cheese Cubes, Strawberries, Snap Peas, Protein Muffins


Ingredients:

Lunch Prep Instructions:

  1. In a bento box, I place grapes, cheese, & crackers
  2. I like to place the peas in a separate snack bag of container for a portable snack at recess, as well as adding in a little muffin

Lunch #8: Classic Sandwich, Mini Cucumbers, Seed Mix, Applesauce

Ingredients:

  • 1 whole-grain bun or 2 slices of seedy bread
  • 2-3 slices of meat of choice (I like to grab a roasted deli chicken for this)
  • 1 tsp mayo
  • 1 tsp mustard
  • 4 cucumber or avocado slices
  • 1-2 romaine leaves
  • 2-3 mini cucumbers
  • 1/4 cup Seed Mix
  • 1/2 cup of apple sauce (careful of the sugar content in some, making your own is super easy. Try my no-sugar-added slow-cooker apple sauce recipe here, 3 flavor combinations! It freezes and stores great.

Lunch Prep Instructions:

  1. Prep your sandwich and veggies, cut and place into a sealed sandwich container or bag. When I have time I do a slow-cooker shredded chicken which is super easy to have shredded chicken to make sandwiches (recipe here). On weeks I am really busy I grab a deli roasted chicken and slice it myself.
  2. Place grape tomatoes in a little container or bag for a portable snack
  3. Buy a seed mix from the snack section or make your own with seeds and dried fruits from the bulk section.
  4. Add your apple sauce and spoon to the lunch bag for a sweet treat.

Lunch #9: Veggie Wraps with Hummus
Edamame or Snap Peas, Berries of choice, Ants-on-a-log

Ingredients:

  1. Spread hummus on tortilla and top with whatever veggies your kids will devour. Roll up and cut it in half.
  2. Add berries and peas for 2 snacks for lunch
  3. A few ants-on-a log are the perfect fun treat while giving our kids protein!

Lunch #10: Pasta Salad, Pear, Brocolli with Ranch, Yogurt with Granola. 

Ingredients:

  • 1-1.5 cups of pasta salad (recipe from my fav pasta salad in my staple dishes through the camping post here).
  • 1/2 cup of broccoli florets cut into bite-size pieces with 2 tbsp ranch dressing (I love primal foods ranch).
  • 1/2 cup -3/4 cup of yogurt with 2 tbsp berries (plain greek yogurt with berries is great. You can also make your own coconut yogurt or instapot yogurt too! Lunch Prep Instructions:
  1. Make a big batch of pasta salad for meal prep for the week. Then you simply have to scoop your serving into a sealed container to take for lunch.
  2. I like to precut the broccoli and store it in the fridge so the kids can help assemble there own lunch.
  3. Yogurt and berries are their sweet snack but also a great way to get in extra protein.

These combinations all follow the same formula I have been using personally with my own kids and professionally with my clients. This works great for a full day of school! Usually, I find kids go for the fruit and veggies with or without dip for morning and afternoon recess cause they want to plan and so want a quick snack. Then at Lunchtime, they enjoy their main lunch and their treat. This way they have two snacks and the main lunch to correspond with school breaks. If your child is younger and only doing half days you could omit one of the snacks. You can see the pattern above in that each Lunch contains:

  1. A piece of fruit

  2. Fresh Veggies with or without dip based on the protein content of the lunch for balance

  3. A Lunch that includes Protein, Fat, and Fiber to fuel them for their day at school

  4. A treat! Something sweet and healthy in a whole-foods version. I have broken down the lists below for you for a quick and easy reference.

1) Fruit & Veggie Ideas

  • Oranges
  • Apples
  • Strawberries
  • Pear
  • Grapes
  • Sliced peaches
  • Blueberries
  • Raspberries
  • Mangoes
  • Melon cubed
  • Pineapple

2) Fresh Veggies

  • Carrots with Hummus
  • Cucumbers Slices
  • Cucumber Sticks with Tzatziki
  • Grape Tomatoes
  • Edamame Pods
  • Snap Peas
  • Celery with nut or seed butter
  • Broccoli and Ranch
  • Bell Peppers Sliced
  • Radishes

3) Main Lunch Ideas

  • Pita Bread + Hummus
  • Whole Grain or Seedy Crackers + Cheese
  • Protein Roll-ups
    Almond Butter + Jam Roll-ups (Use seed butter for Nut-free schools)
  • Cheese Quesadilla
  • Hard-Boiled Eggs
  • Pasta Salad
  • Protein Kabobs
  • Classic Sandwich
  • Veggie +Hummus Wrap
  • Chicken Salad Pita (Tuna salad or chickpea salad works great in pitas too)

4) A Treat

  • Applesauce
  • No-Bake Energy Balls
  • Ants-on-a-log
  • Fruit leathers
  • Trail Mix
  • Granola Bars
  • Pretzels
  • Popcorn
  • Chips + Guacamole
  • Muffins

BUY & PACK SNACK IDEAS:

Additionally, some fun snacks and treats I like to buy/ pack too but not mentioned above include:

 

Pick your favorites, mix, and match, make adaptations to meet your kid’s needs. Most of all have fun and enjoy!  I hope these recipes and ideas help make packing lunches stress-free for you. I love to hear from you, leave a comment below.

In great health,

Jo