Healthy Kid Lunches

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Building healthy habits starts now! With our busy lives, it is so easy to put pre-packaged processed foods into our kids’ packed lunches or add money to their hot lunch account at school. But the nutritional value of those convenient options are less than desired for our little ones.

healthy lunches

I also know how hard it can be to pack variety because of those picky eaters! So here are a bunch of ideas to choose from…you can make substitutions that your kids like if the example I give doesn’t work for your kids. Hopefully these ideas will give you some options to add to the regular old PBJ! Make sure to change it up!

Guideline: Pick from these ideas below, most of which serve as a main dish. And add at least one fruit or veggie side and either a healthy fat (cheese, PB, hummus) or carb depending on what the main dish is. I like to add crunchy, raw veggies with a dip like hummus or ranch dressing, apple slides or cubed watermelon, etc. or if the main dish doesn’t have a carb, I will add whole wheat crackers.

 

pizza roll ups

Pizza Roll Ups: roll ups are a great alternative to sandwiches!

  • 1 8-inch whole-wheat flour tortilla
  • 2 tablespoons prepared pizza sauce
  • 3 tablespoons shredded part-skim mozzarella

Place tortilla on a plate and spread pizza sauce over it. Top with an even layer shredded cheese on top (maybe even a layer of spinach) and pepperoni if your kids like it. Microwave until the cheese is just melted, about 30-45 seconds. Roll the tortilla up and let cool for several minutes before slicing into pieces, if desired.

 

 

bbq sandwich

BBQ Sandwich or Wrap: Toss leftover, cooked chicken with barbecue sauce and crunchy carrots for a healthy lunch (and I love that it uses leftovers!!).

  • 1/2 cup shredded cooked chicken
  • 1/4 cup shredded carrots
  • 2 tablespoons barbecue sauce
  • 2 teaspoons ranch dressing (see recipe below)
  • 1 small whole-wheat sandwich bun or tortilla

Combine chicken, carrots and barbecue sauce in a bowl. Spread ranch dressing on the bun. Top with the chicken mixture and lettuce.

 

strawberry and cream cheese sandwich

Strawberry & Cream Cheese Sandwich: Sliced strawberries and cream cheese come together in a sandwich that’s healthy but tastes like a treat.

  • 1 tablespoon cream cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon honey
  • 2 slices thin whole-wheat sandwich bread or a round sandwich thin
  • 2-3 medium strawberries, sliced

Combine cream cheese and honey in a bowl. Spread cheese mixture on bread slices. Place sliced strawberries on one side and combine two slices.

 

 

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Skewers: These are so fun and really change things up for your kid! I cut off the pointed end after I make these to avoid sending my kids to school with potential weapons!!

  • 1/2 ounce cubed roasted deli turkey
  • 1/2 ounce cubed cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup grapes
  • 6 dried apricots (maybe they’ll eat them! If not, you can cube apples)

Thread turkey, cheese, grapes and apricots (or apples) onto a wooden skewer. Super fun!

 

breadstick turkey warps

Crunchy Deli Roll Ups: Love roll ups and this adds a nice salty crunch in one punch.

  • 2 slices deli turkey breast (about 1 ounce)
  • 2 teaspoons honey mustard or hummus
  • Pepper to taste
  • 2 sesame breadsticks

Spread each slice of turkey with 1 teaspoon mustard/hummus and season with pepper. Wrap each prepared turkey slice around 1 breadstick.

 

 

chocolate chex mix

Sweet Treat: Crunchy wheat cereal, pretzels and almonds coated in bittersweet chocolate makes a sweet-salty but also healthy snack.

  • 1 cup Wheat Chex cereal (2 ounces)
  • 1 cup pretzel sticks broken in half (2 ounces)
  • 1/4 cup salted roasted almonds (2 1/2 ounces)
  • 3 tablespoons bittersweet chocolate chips, melted

Combine Chex, pretzels and almonds in a medium bowl. Drizzle with melted chocolate; stir to combine. Spread the mixture on a wax paper-lined baking sheet and refrigerate until the chocolate is set, about 30 minutes. Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

 

ranch

Healthier Ranch Dip: to serve with raw veggies in their lunches or as a spread on sandwiches or wraps. By using nonfat buttermilk and low-fat mayonnaise for the creamy base you cut the fat substantially and eliminate the saturated fat. It only takes 15 minutes to make and keeps for 5 days so it’s perfect for a healthy snack in a pinch.

  • 1/2 cup nonfat buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup low-fat mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh dill, or 2 teaspoons dried
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Whisk buttermilk, mayonnaise, dill, lemon juice, mustard, honey, garlic powder and salt in a medium bowl until combined. Serve the dip with vegetables of your choice.


IMG_4172Protein Pancakes: We make my protein pancakes ahead and refrigerate them to use as snacks or quick breakfasts on the go. One day I came up with the idea to smear with a peanut butter and honey mixture and make a sandwich. Delish!

  • JennyDobmeier.com/protein-pancakes/
  • One batch makes about 6 medium pancakes (3 sandwiches) so if your kids love them, make a double batch!
  • Mix equal parts natural peanut butter and raw honey.
  • Smear one pancake with peanut butter mixture and top with another pancake.

 

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PB Banana Roll Up: My son loves these! It is a great main dish in his lunches. My daughter, on the other hand, does not like bananas. For a snack I will make her this with sliced apples but it doesn’t go well in her lunch because the slices fall out.

  • JennyDobmeier.com/peanut-butter-banana-roll-ups/

 

 

 

 

 

meatball subMeatball Sandwich: Another great idea for left overs!

  • 2-3 leftover meatballs, depending on size
  • 1 wheat hot dog bun
  • 1-3 tablespoon of sauce

Place meatballs into the bun and spread a small amount of sauce in the bun.

 

pizza-quesdailla

Pizza Quesadilla: This is another great way to change up your kids’ main dish from sandwiches.

  • 1 8-inch whole-wheat flour tortilla
  • 2 tablespoons prepared pizza sauce
  • 3 tablespoons shredded part-skim mozzarella

Place tortilla on a warm griddle and spread pizza sauce over half of it. Top half with an even layer shredded cheese and pepperoni if your kids like it. Heat until the cheese is just melted and fold tortilla over. Let cool for several minutes before slicing into triangles.

 

turkey pinwheels

Turkey and Cheese Pinwheels: roll ups are a great alternative to sandwiches!

  • 1 8-inch whole-wheat flour tortilla
  • 2 slices deli turkey breast (about 1 ounce)
  • 1 slice of cheese
  • Ranch dressing (recipe above) or Hummus

Spread about 2 teaspoons of ranch dressing or hummus on wrap. Top with turkey and cheese. Roll the tortilla up and slice into pinwheels. Place in container facing up for a fun view!

 

I hope you have fun with these ideas! Happy lunching!

 

About Jenny

As a fitness and nutrition coach, I provide accountability and motivation to people who are interested in achieving a healthier, happier lifestyle.