We have a lot of young mothers on staff at EatingWell and their kids range in age from 5 months to 5 years. At lunchtime the conversation often turns to how challenging it is to pack a healthy kids lunch. Between dealing with finicky eaters and no-peanut rules, it seems like it’s really hard to pull a meal together!
Here are a few tips and recipes we’ve come up with in the test kitchen to help you pack a lunch your kids will be excited about.
- Tip 1: Cut fruit into fun shapes with cookie cutters. Melon works very well.
- Tip 2: Buy yogurt in quart containers and dispense it into your own small containers each day—to save waste and money. Add your own frozen berries to jazz up vanilla yogurt and make it more colorful and fun to eat.
- Tip 3: Wraps and pita breads are easy ways to add variety to an otherwise ordinary sandwich, and are easy to cut into smaller portions that are good for kids.
- Tip 4: Be sure to pack the four delicious lunch options below in an insulated lunch box with an ice pack to keep them cool or store in the refrigerator.
Pizza Roll-Up Bento Lunch – This easy pizza-inspired roll-up is a kid-pleaser. Make crunchy vegetables more appealing by selecting colorful varieties like orange and purple cauliflower—and don’t forget the dip! Keep ’em smiling with watermelon cut into fun shapes with cookie cutters. To make ahead: Cover and refrigerate the pizza roll-up for up to 1 day.
Strawberry & Cream Cheese Sandwich – Sliced strawberries and reduced-fat cream cheese come together in a sandwich for this quick and healthy lunchbox treat.
BBQ Chicken Sandwich – Toss leftover cooked chicken with barbecue sauce and crunchy carrots for a quick and healthy lunch.
Tuscan-Style Tuna Salad – Cherry tomatoes add color and flavor to this Italian-inspired tuna and white bean salad, which is packed with fiber and protein.