10 Healthy Lunch and Snack Ideas for Kids
Ho you dread Sundays, knowing that you’ll have to throw together lunch for any number of children for the next five days? Do you feel worn out, trying to find creative ways to get your kids to eat something, anything healthy? Have you run out of sandwich fillings? Then this is for you. Here are ten ways to fill your kids’ lunchbox, with delicious variations on the typical themes.
1. Hot dogs
I’m sure when you see the words “hot dog” you imagine a baseball field, a stale bun, and a stacked dog with everything on it. That’s not quite what I’m suggesting here. Today there are so many varieties of healthy “hot dog” that you can buy for your kids, including turkey dogs, and my favorite, veggie dogs. Pair with a whole wheat bun and a little ketchup for dipping, and throw in some cut veggies like cucumber, celery, carrots, or even cherry tomatoes. A filling and protein filled lunch!
2. “Make your own” sandwich
Sandwiches don’t have to be boring. You can have the kids make their own (a homemade lunchable), even substituting bread for crackers, and including slices of ham and cheese that they can stack. You could even make mini turkey club sandwiches on skewers, just by making a triple-decker turkey and cheese sandwich and cut it into squares. And if your kid loves peanut butter and jelly, you can switch it up by changing the presentation: using whole wheat bread, cut off the crusts of one piece of bread and roll it up into a tube. Voila, peanut butter and jelly roll-up. Sometimes, presentation is everything. Again, pair with pieces of fruit, vegetables and hummus, or apple chips.
You may have to think outside the lunch box for fillings your kids like, or you can get a little creative with your idea of a “wrap”. Go the traditional route of turkey and cheese (and some sneaky spinach) on a whole wheat or spinach tortilla (which has the added benefit of being green in color, which is just plain fun). Or skip the tortilla all together and use the lunch meat as a wrap, filling the inside with salad greens, and skewering with a toothpick.
Another favorite that is perfectly good cold, quesadillas are genius because you can pack them with secret veggies and as long as there’s cheese, kids won’t care. Fill with refried beans or chicken for protein, and pair with avocado and cherry tomatoes for a colorful, yummy lunch.
No longer just for BBQs or fancy appetizers, you can bring the skewers and the toothpicks into your kid’s lunchbox to add a little variety to the usual fare. Simply alternate slices of lunch meat and chunks of cheese on the kebob stick or toothpick, and top each end with a cherry tomato or cucumber. Mix it up and include a skewer of fruit too, and your kid will have a rainbow lunchbox full of healthy, fun food.
I don’t know a kid who doesn’t love pasta. And if you’ve ever chowed down on a good pasta salad, you know it doesn’t have to be warm to be enjoyed. It’s also a really good way to get your kids to eat vegetables, as a really good sauce can hid a lot of veggies, and mask the taste of others. Roast veggies and a healthy, homemade sauce are a filling alternative to whatever the school cafeteria has to offer!
When I hear muffins, I think the fruit or chocolate variety, but the savory types are really good substitutes for sandwiches in a kid’s lunchbox. And the sky is really the limit with what you can create, from ham and cheese, to zucchini, to spinach mac and cheese.
I’m not suggesting you send your kid to school with leftover delivery pizza, although I am a fan of cold pizza for breakfast. No, instead I’m suggesting having the kids make their own “pizza” using little pieces of bruschetta toast as the base, tomato sauce, and slices or shredded cheese. For a slightly less messy option, make english muffin pizzas the night before for the kids to eat cold. Top with whatever vegetables you can get away with!
9. Mini quiches
Quiches may not strike you as a “kid friendly” food, but that’s because you’ve never tried these recipes. Bitesized quiches are simple, filling, and healthy school lunch treats. Try ham and cheese, pepperoni pizza, and spinach. Any pastry that you can hide veggies in are worth trying, right?
Salad doesn’t have to be rabbit food. It also doesn’t have to be on a bed of lettuce, either. If you can get your kids to eat a rainbow of different foods, or you have kids that are willing to try them, then these salads could be a great way to get your kids to eat their five-a-day. Pair this cowboy caviar with pita bread, or veggies. Or throw some pasta in to the mix, like this Mexican sweetcorn pasta salad, or my personal favorite, southwest tortellini pasta salad. Throw in as much healthy stuff as possible, like beans, tomatoes, corn, peppers, avocados, onions, and combine with pasta for a filling lunch.
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