The best 21 healthy school lunch ideas - so you don't go insane each day with the morning rush. PLUS get your list of 50 easy snack ideas.
Packing a school lunch is hard enough, but when you have the added goal of making a healthy lunch, things can feel really challenging! Thankfully these healthy school lunch ideas are simple and wholesome—your kids will love each and every one, and so will you!
Plus, learn how to save time and money when packing your own lunches with these 6 top tips.
After years of packing school lunches, I've narrowed it down to this list of my favourite easy healthy school lunchbox recipes. Hopefully, these lunch ideas will keep you from going insane each day with the morning rush.
- How To Pack Healthy School Lunch Ideas...6 Easy Ways!
- Healthy School Lunch Equipment
- Healthy Lunch Ideas - 4 Low Carb Breads to Try
- Healthy Lunch Ideas - 10 Main Dishes
- Healthy Lunch Ideas - 3 Ways to Make Vegetables
- Healthy Lunch Ideas - 4 sweet treats
- Bonus: Low Carb Protein for Vegetarians
- New Here?
How To Pack Healthy School Lunch Ideas...6 Easy Ways!
The best ideas are often simple ones. That's also true when it comes to healthy lunch ideas! Especially for picky eaters.
Yes, I'm a foodie who loves to feed my family, but I fully embrace that packing a healthy lunchbox doesn't always require a recipe. Oftentimes, the things your kids will appreciate most are simple things such as apple slices and nut butter or cottage cheese topped with fruit.
You won't find any cookie cutters here. No more faces out of veggies and no more motivational post-it notes (only kidding, you can add "I love you" notes if you want).
I'm all about making healthy lunches - fast! Especially when it's time to go back to school after a long break.
By the way, if you are new here, you may wish to read this post about why my kids are LOW carb, not NO carb.
1. Love Your Leftovers
Save your leftovers into little containers and keep them in the fridge. Now you have a few pots ready to throw in your lunchboxes for the next few days. Whether you have simple leftovers like rotisserie chicken, or more involved ones like keto pulled pork mac and cheese (yum!), they make for a simple lunch.
2. Make the leftovers yummy
While we are talking about leftovers, let's chat about how to make them into your kid's favorite school lunch ideas! If you're sending your child to school with some leftovers, amp up the yum factor.
For example, veggies will be readily gobbled up if they have a sprinkle of grated/shredded cheese on top. If you are sending them with some berries, add some yoghurt or whipped cream and vanilla.
Mix and match your leftovers to make some fun delicious ideas. Why not serve your child's regular apple sliced into chunks, with a small pot of almond butter to make your regular lunch ideas healthy.
3. Don't Throw Anything Away
Okay, yes, if a food is no longer good, of course, you can trash it. But, if it's fresh and good, keep it! This goes for those few baby carrots or baby tomatoes that are at the bottom of the bag, or leftover snap peas or cherry tomatoes.
Put these veggies in bento boxes or ziplock bags, and add a little bit of ranch dressing. Serve it alongside protein such as turkey and cheese roll ups or hard boiled eggs and you've got a balanced meal!
4. Jazz Up Those Veggies
It's hard to talk about healthy school lunch ideas without mentioning vegetables!
If you are desperate to get your kids to eat more veggies, this is one of the easiest healthy lunch ideas out there. If your kids refuse their veggies, why not try this simple trick?
Serve up veggies in a new way. If your kids refuse carrot sticks, then send it grated/shredded. If they don't like cucumber slices, cut them into sticks. slices, rounds, or cubes. Does your little one hate green beans? Sautee it up with a bit of bacon left over from breakfast, and you may be surprised!
This may seem too good to be true but this is one of those awesome ideas that actually work!
5. Try this Genius Toothpick Trick
I don't know why this one works so well, but it really does! Throw anything onto a toothpick because for some reason anything on a stick tends to get eaten.
Layer on some tasty "kabobs" like deli turkey, cherry tomatoes, and red pepper slices. Deli meat also works well with celery sticks, cucumber slices, and sugar snap peas.
This is an economical solution too. If you only have 1 sausage and half a piece of cheese, you can quickly make 2-3 toothpicks alternating cheese and sausage cubes. Feel free to switch it up too! I do this often for my son's lunch and he loves it way more than something bland like a cheese sandwich.
6. Make Sure to Include Healthy Fats
One of the best lunch ideas to try is to always incorporate some kind of healthy fat with their school lunches.
We know that healthy fats always make a meal taste nicer, but healthy fats will also help fill their tummies for longer (no more sugar crashes).
Thankfully these are easy to incorporate. A few healthy school lunch ideas include:
- grated/shredded cheese
- sour cream
- whipped cream and vanilla for a sweet dish
- peanut butter
- hardboiled eggs
- chicken salad or tuna salad
Need more ideas? Check out this meal plan with 1-month of low-carb lunch box ideas.
Healthy School Lunch Equipment
Wondering how to pack up and transport all these healthy school lunch ideas? Do you use a cooler block or ice pack? It's a personal choice and will depend on what type of temperature you live in.
Some children will only eat a cold school lunch box whereas others don't like the condensation that ice packs produce.
I often do lunch box meal prepping, which saves a lot of time in the morning rush. By utilising small containers, allows even the smallest of yummy lunch ideas such as a trail mix, greek yogurt, a few cheese crackers or a few of last night's leftover carrots.
I've put together a list of my favourite healthy lunchbox equipment and gadgets on my Amazon store.
First, choose a lunchbox with plenty of little compartments, it turns lunch into a mini-buffet. This is my favourite lunchbox.
Healthy Lunch Ideas - 4 Low Carb Breads to Try
Just because you are packing healthy school lunches doesn't mean you have to say goodbye to staples like a peanut butter sandwich. Use these recipes to make delicious, kid-approved low carb bread.
1. Almond Flour Bread
This is such a quick and easy recipe! It's a great idea if your children are used to getting a wholegrain sandwich in their bag. If you’re just starting your low-carb journey, definitely print and keep this recipe.
2. Mozzarella Dough Bagels
These are the most incredible keto mozzarella dough bagels! Your kids will love to enjoy them toasted with salmon and avocado or cream cheese. This recipe will make 6 bagels at only 2.4g net carbs each.
3. One-Minute Keto Muffins
1-minute keto muffins are fluffy and versatile, and depending on what you’re in the mood for, they can be sweet or savoury. There are 5 flavour variations to try, with endless other possibilities. Which one will be your favourite?
4. Three Seed Bread
If you are missing wholegrain bread, with a nutty crunch, then you'll love the 3-seed bread.
Healthy Lunch Ideas - 10 Main Dishes
5. Ham and Egg Cups
This is such a simple idea! Use a piece of ham instead of pastry to hold in the egg filling. It makes this healthy lunch idea naturally gluten-free, grain-free and wheat-free.
They are incredibly low in carbs, making a wonderful high protein, low carb snack or lunch box filler.
6. Perfect Hard Boiled Eggs
If you're ever in a bind the night before school, and your pantry is bare, quickly boil a dozen eggs in your Instant Pot. You can then make quick devilled eggs, a creamy egg salad, or just a simple egg for a protein snack.
7. Fat Head Sausage Rolls -
If you are new here you HAVE to make Fat Head pastry. It is a cheesy mozzarella dough that makes the BEST low-carb pizza on the planet! Grab my Fat Head pizza recipe here.
8. Cold Meat Wraps
These are an awesome alternative to wraps or sandwiches. Cold meat wraps are so easy and so versatile. Roast beef, lamb, turkey...any thin cold meat will do!
These are fabulous for lunch or a snack. This is low carb and grain-free simplicity at its best.
There is no recipe for this, just the idea of using something other than bread as a wrap. You can use roast beef, roast turkey, or even lettuce.
9. Keto Chicken – 4 Ways
Easy keto chicken flavoured with Mexican, Indian, Chinese, or Italian spice rubs—yum! These are the perfect complete protein and high-fat snack.
Or add a side salad with plenty of mayonnaise and you instantly have an amazingly quick and easy low-carb healthy fat meal.
10. Healthy Chicken Nuggets
If your children live on chicken nuggets and you are desperate to wean them off, give these a shot. Make sure to read the article to see why nuggets should be avoided (spoiler alert, they're full of nasties).
11. Salmon and Cream Cheese Bites
They’re the classic combination of dill, salmon, eggs, and cream cheese. High-quality protein, healthy fats, and essential fatty acids. And we all know oily fish such as salmon helps feeds our kiddos growing and developing brains.
12. Pepperoni Bites
Super easy pepperoni bites can be eaten as a snack or covered in a sauce for a meal. And you know I love recipes that can be frozen and kept for school lunches too.
13. Cheese Taco Shells
What's more kid-friendly than tacos?! These are incredibly versatile and can be filled with anything your heart desires!
14. Pizza Dough Scrolls
Again, hard to find something kids will appreciate more than pizza scrolls. This version is made with fathead dough, so it's totally guilt free. This makes for a perfect Friday treat!
Healthy Lunch Ideas - 3 Ways to Make Vegetables
We all want our kids to eat more veggies right? To experience a wider variety of food, but how do we incorporate more into their healthy lunchbox?
The vegetable recipes below are my kid's favourites.
15. Avocado Salsa
This is a colourful, nutritious and fabulous way to eat avocados and all their healthy fats.
16. Courgette Mint Feta Fritters
Trust me with this one. My kids LOVE these. The mint makes them especially fresh and vibrant.
17. Cauliflower Couscous
Adults and kids love this in their lunchbox. Pile it into a salad box, add some additional protein and you have a complete meal. My teenager loves this, maybe not so popular for the little ones.
Healthy Lunch Ideas - 4 sweet treats
18. Grain Free Granola Bars
Have you been looking for a grain-free granola bar that's also sugar-free? What about a grain free granola bars recipe where you simply throw everything in the blender. Easy as. There is even an option to make them nut free too.
19. Instant Pot Blueberry Muffins
Not only are these blueberry muffins sugar-free and gluten-free, you can quickly whip up an entire batch in the Instant Pot in 20 minutes.
20. Keto Waffles
Cut each waffle in half, spread each half with cream cheese and add some berries inside as the filling. Add some cinnamon or ginger if you like different spices.
21. Coconut Flour Chocolate Chip Cookies
These vanilla coconut flour chocolate chip cookies are amazing. Kiddies and adults love these tasty treats at only 2 g net carbs per cookie, it’s a no brainer when it comes to cookie time. Read why I don’t use sugar-free chocolate and what I use instead.
Bonus: Low Carb Protein for Vegetarians
Quality low-carb protein for vegetarians can be hard to find. These are my top 10 sources and a handy infographic and scroll to the bottom of the post to see the comprehensive guide of 33 protein sources for low-carb vegetarians and pescatarians.
See the full list and protein chart for vegetarians.
If you are new here, you may wish to read this post on why my kids are LOW carb, not NO carb.