All children will benefit from lowering their junk carbs. Figuring out what to put inside low-carb lunches for kids is a great way to start!
Download your FREE handbook and 50 snack ideas so you can take the stress out of making healthy lunchboxes.
So stop the 7 am panic, figuring out what to pack. This has everything you'll ever need to start making healthy lunch boxes today.
Should kids be low-carb?
Everyone benefits from reducing their sugar, processed carbs, and junk food.
Many critics are confused and think when we say low-carb kids we mean NO carbs kids. It is also a myth that eating low-carb is restrictive, difficult, and lacking in nutrition.
Simply going back to real whole foods is what we are suggesting. It's a great option for both you and your children. Quality protein, healthy fats, and nutrient-dense carbs from vegetables, nuts, seeds, berries, and low-sugar fruits.
You will notice from the images below, that some of the lunchboxes contain items that are higher carb than you and I may have in our day, but my emphasis is on whole food that is lower in carbs.
Whilst most children live off a diet of bread, juice, chocolate, granola bars, fruit yoghurt, goldfish, crisps, and sugary drinks, the lunch boxes below are a far cry from that and are based on unprocessed food with nutrition, quality protein, and healthy fats.
The effect of sugar on our kiddos
When children aren't on the sugar roller coaster, concentration is more sustained, behaviour improved and their nutrition is phenomenal.
There are so many hidden sugars in foods these days (see below), especially 'health' foods. Sauces, cereals, muesli bars, dried fruit, and all the other "standard choices" are high sugar sources.
The World Health Organisation recommends no more than 12g sugar a day (3 tsp) for children, but this is exceeded each morning on cereal or toast alone, let alone toppings you might add.
It is the accumulation of sugars throughout the day that are concerning experts. Diet has a huge impact on brain development. We don't realise how much sugar our children are consuming, but the effect it will cause is still unknown.
How much hidden-sugar is in your children's lunch box?
These fabulous graphics are from "That Sugar Film". One man embarks on a journey of high sugar diet by eating "healthy foods" but are actually laden with hidden sugar such as low-fat yoghurt, muesli bars, juices, and cereals.
We buy low-fat healthy products in the belief they are better for us, but take a look at the label of some health products and prepare to be amazed.
Healthy options of juice and smoothies are also laden with sugar. Fruit juice contains as much sugar as fizzy drinks.
I know parents already have enough on their plate, so my goal with these low-carb lunches for kids is to make healthy eating extra-simple.
Always check labels for hidden sugars such as dried apple syrup, honey, coconut sugar, corn syrup, concentrated fruit juice, dried fruit, fructose powder, HFCS.
In fact, there are more than 50 names for sugar.
How to pack a quick healthy lunchbox
These low-carb kid-friendly meals are easy to put together. You can even mix and match items from the list below to create a bento box of sorts.
I always pack the protein in my children's lunch boxes first. It makes up the majority of their lunch box then I plan and pack the other vegetables, fruit and snacks next.
Read more: What does 30g protein look like?
- various cheeses
- crustless quiche
- leftovers - sausages, roast dinner
- grain-free KFC
- bacon and egg pie
- homemade burgers
- nut/seed bars
Read more: The Ultimate Guide To Vegetables
- cherry tomatoes
- carrot sticks
TOP TIP: Try to cut your veggies in different ways. Your children might just love carrot sticks, but not carrot slices. Or how about shredded carrots instead? Cucumber sliced or sticks. Cherry tomatoes whole or halved.
Read more: The Ultimate Guide To Fruit
- frozen berries
- small apple
- small pear
TOP TIP: grapes and tropical fruit such as pineapple and mango are much higher in natural sugars. So be mindful of how much your children are eating. Sugar is sugar.
Expert tips and tricks
- Leftovers are KING!!! Try and make double dinners, or put a tray of chicken strips or sausages in the oven when the oven is on, then lunch is sorted for the next few days.
- I often use meat as a wrap with the filling inside. My children have started to love huge slices of lettuce for the 'bread' with cheese or ham inside.
- Processed meat - there is a lot of controversy regarding processed meat. There are many studies that are for/against nitrates/nitrites found in meat. We eat meat that has been processed as little as possible. Buy ham off the bone rather than the shaped luncheon slices, buy bacon with no preservatives and sugar, and buy meat as close to nature intended it.
- How low-carb you want to go depends on what your goals are. Those who are diabetic will restrict their carbs more strictly. Those who want to help their child lose weight or other health issues will set their own goals and limits. It's all about being "carb appropriate".
- Nut allergies - remember to check if your school has a nut-free policy. My 8-year-old is at Primary School so is not allowed to take nuts, whereas for my 11 and 13 yr old it is permitted. The lunch boxes above are from all 3 children and abide by their school policies (I wish there were a sugar-free policy).
If your child attends a school that has a nut-free policy, I have created an entire coconut flour recipe index for you.
More coconut flour recipes ...
Leave a comment on what you add to your school lunches, we'd love to hear:
Best lunchboxes to use
Which lunch box you choose will be dependant n the age and dexterity of your child, and whether they prefer a hot, cold, or room temperature lunch box.
These are my favourite low-carb lunch box gadgets.
1-month healthy lunch box planner
You can see the images of the lunchboxes I packed over the past few weeks.
Here is your plan for 1 month of low-carb lunch box ideas.
The handy table shows you what to include in 1-month lunch boxes:
Get your FREE 1-month lunch box planner
|1||Chicken drumsticks||Cucumber slices||Strawberries||Cheese & pork rinds|
|2||Pepperoni & cheese kebabs||Carrot sticks||Blueberries||Grain-free granola bar|
|3||Pizza chaffles & pepperoni||Cherry tomatoes||Raspberries||Natural yoghurt|
|4||Almond flour bread & sliced meat||Cucumber sticks||Grapes||Fried halloumi "chips" & salsa|
|5||Salmon & cream cheese bites||Yellow pepper slices||Small apple||Coconut flour choc chip cookies|
|6||Spinach and feta pie||Lettuce chunks||Strawberries|
|7||Lamb kebabs & dip||Carrot sticks||Blueberries||Grain-free granola bar|
|8||Pepperoni & cheese kebabs||Asparagus spears||Raspberries||Cream cheese dip|
|9||Keto bagels & cream cheese||Cherry tomatoes||Small pear||Natural yoghurt|
|10||Chicken drumsticks||Yellow pepper slices||Strawberries||Coconut flour choc chip cookies|
|11||Salmon & cream cheese bites||Cucumber sticks||Blueberries||Sugar-free Louise slice|
|12||Lamb kebabs & dip||Red pepper slices||Raspberries||Grain-free granola bar|
|13||Cheesy chicken meatballs||Celery, cream cheese and walnuts||Small pear||Nut-free "peanut butter" cookies.|
|14||Meatloaf cupcakes||Cherry tomatoes||Mandarin||Cream cheese dip|
|15||Chicken nuggets||Celery, cream cheese and walnuts||Strawberries||Cheese sticks & salsa|
|16||Ham & egg cups||Asparagus spears||Blueberries||Cheese cubes & olives|
|17||Pepperoni & cheese kebabs||Cherry tomatoes||Raspberries||Natural yoghurt|
|18||Salmon & cream cheese bites||Red pepper slices||Small apple||Grain-free granola bar|
|19||Cauliflower sushi||Lettuce chunks||Mandarin||Fried halloumi "chips" & salsa|
|20||Pizza pockets||Celery, cream cheese and walnuts||Strawberries||Keto pizza scrolls|
Get your FREE 1-month lunch box planner
Printable list and recipes
Below are the recipes for the 1-month lunch box packing plan.
LUNCHBOX - PROTEIN RECIPES
- Chicken drumsticks - 4 ways
- Pizza chaffles
- Almond flour bread
- Salmon and cream cheese bites
- Spinach and feta pie
- Lamb kebabs and dips
- Keto bagels
- Cheesy chicken meatballs
- Meatloaf cupcakes
- Chicken nuggets
- Ham and egg cups
- Cauliflower sushi
- Pizza pockets
LUNCHBOX - "EXTRAS" RECIPES
- Pork rinds
- Grain-free granola bars
- Coconut flour choc chip cookies
- Sugar-free Louise slice
- Nut-free "peanut butter" cookies
- Keto pizza scrolls
Low-carb kids FAQ
Again, the best options are sometimes the most simple ones. I am a big fan of flavoured water for school-aged children.
A stainless steel container with a built-in straw is an eco-friendly, healthy option for any age.
If you really want to jazz it up, you could make something such as this berry chia fresca. I would recommend this as an occasional treat rather than the day to day norm, however.
An insulated lunch box or a thermos will help keep lunch warm (insulated) or cool with a chiller block. That being said, all of the lunches above work well even at room temperature!
Sure thing. You can join my FREE Low-Carb Lunch BOX Group. I post what I pack and daily tips and tricks.
Free resources and guides
Keto kids guides - the complete series
Take a look at my other articles on Low-Carb Kids and How To Start Low-Carb.
- Low-Carb Kids Page
- Low-Carb Kids 1 - tips and tricks
- Low-Carb Kids 2 - a printable guide to get your children involved.How to plan your lunchbox each day.
- Low-Carb Kids 3 - 2 weeks of school lunches and how to plan them.
- Low-Carb Kids 4 - how to make a low-carb lunchbox
- Low-Carb Kids 5 - healthy sugar-free after school snacks
- Low-Carb Kids - free printable PDF healthy sugar-free after school snacks
- Low-Carb Kids 7 – My guest post on Diet Dr, “How To Raise Children On Real Low-Carb Food”.
- Low-Carb Kids 8 - How to help your child eat real food - with an action plan
Free lunchbox group
If you are just starting out and are beginning to pack healthy sugar-free lunch boxes, you'll need lots of help.
You need to join my Low-Carb Lunch Club and my closed group - Low-Carb Lunch Boxes.
They are packed with fun simple ideas and helpful practical tips
Come and see what I pack every day in my closed group - Low-Carb Lunch Boxes.
Come and join in the fun. I'll see you there.
As you can see, creating healthy, wholesome low-carb lunches for kids is simple, delicious, and fun! Enjoy.
Dear Libby, I wanted to say a massive thank you for inspiring me to prepare healthy lunchboxes for my daughter! I'm LCHF and I'm slowly moving my family over to this way of eating. I took photos of her lunchboxes and wondered if you'd like to use them (any/all) for a UK example?
Hi Elena, Oh my word yes, please!!! Please email your images to me via support at ditchthecarbs . com The members in my Low-Carb Lunch Box group would absolutely LOVE to see them and get some ideas for their own kiddos. How wonderfully kind. thank you 🙂
I am trying to go low carb to help my husband who has type 2 diabetes as well as lose weight myself. Do you have any ideas for someone who doesn't like dairy, especially cheese?
What kind of drinks can we give very young children like age 1? Trying to cut down on Apple juice since it has too much sugar. He is having a hard time with whole milk since he was recently taken off formula
When my children were 1 and I had weaned them off breastmilk, I used to give them full-cream milk (not formula) and diluted juice. If I had known then, what I know now, I would never have given them the juice and started them on full cream milk and water only.
Is there a post on here about pregnancy and/or bfing while keto? I know one the keto or low carb bloggers wrote about it and can not find it argh
After the trouble poor Prof Tim Noakes got into by giving advice to a b/feeding mother, I haven't got any articles like this on my website. Saying that, if I had my time again, I would have been LCHF throughout my 3 pregnancies and b/feeding years. Come and join my Support Group. There are plenty of pregnant and b/feeding mums in there who can tell you how it has helped them and their milk is still plentiful 🙂
These ideas are great! My worry would be there's a fair amount of processed red meat in the suggestions and without that (we would avoid it) then the calorie content drops quite a bit. Not good with a very slender 7 year old!
I try to use meat with as little processing as possible. I choose ham off the bone, roast beef, pepperoni or salami which is 99% meat and only uses herbs, spices and salt as preservative. I have a wonderful bacon supplier which doesn't add any nasties too. A great source of protein for my kids is last night's dinner, last night's roast chicken, dairy, nuts, cream cheese stuffed peppers etc. I am in the process of updating this post, so stay tuned 🙂
Jessie Jamison Jamison
I live in south africa, the postal and delivery service is a nightmare. Please advise if we can buy the books in a pdf format and not a printable magazine ?
Yes you can buy them as an eBook here. They will be delivered immediately for you to download with no delivery fees or postage.
Hi! All your ideas are great! I am trying to help my daughter to eat healthier because of comments I hear her make about herself. She is 10 and I pack healthy things I know she likes but she usually will come home with the fruit and veggies in her box... she likes turkey and cheese roll ups, or sandwiches, yogurt, and sometimes cuties and grapes.. I try to encourage her to try more veggies like carrot sticks or cucumbers but no luck 🙁 she does like hard boiled eggs but says not to pack them in her lunch because they smell.. any tips for packing eggs??
How about an egg salad? You could add some crunchy vegetables in there that she likes also. You can flavour it with mustard to help disguise the eggy smell. Or how about a boiled egg peeled, but pop it in a little airtight container so she can't smell it until she is ready to eat it?
what about little quishes. little egg muffins. have recently started making these and my kids love them.
I use teeny square container from PaknSave seems to contain the smell until opened but still fits tidily into Sistema bento lunchbox.
Thank you so much for this website! I have PCOS and my Dr. recommended a LCHF diet to balance hormones and lose some weight. My eldest is on the borderline of being overweight and with my history I fear for her health! I was so frustrated trying to plan meals that could satisfy her with the same groceries that I needed for me. This gives me a ton of ideas and I so very much appreciate the information!
I have a grandson who is 9 years old, 5'4" tall and 120 pounds - and that is 120 muscular pounds - he's very athletic and very active. How would you suggest getting him enough calories on a lower carb diet?
My kids get enough calories from the healthy fats and especially quality protein, as they are growing and active. Come and join my Low Carb Support Group. A private place to discuss all things low carb.
Hi Libby, I'm 13 and trying to become more healthier. I would like to start a diet to lose some weight,, have you got any advice for me? Thanks 🙂
Hi Emily and well done on taking the first step. For my kids, I started but cutting out the processed food a little bit at a time. So first to go was the sweets, candy, cakes, soda then we cut back on bread, pasta and rice, then we slowly improved all the food choices we can at home and do our best when we are out and about. Start easily on yourself and simply choose the best unprocessed real food that your grandmother would recognise, so no modern junk food and you're pretty much there. I am really impressed you are taking charge, awesome. 🙂
I'm actually 15 and am trying to follow this in my trip to lose 6 stone. Only problem here is I'm a free school dinner and everything there I can get has far too many carbs and it's expensive, is there any and advice you could give me?
Can you choose just the meat and non starchy vegetables? Are you allowed to ask for extra non starchy vegetables instead of the chips, potatoes and pasta that most cooked school lunches rely on?
Unfortunately, my school lunches aren't like that. For us we have a cold food choice or a warm food choice. Cold food is all pasta, sandwiches and wraps while the warm food is like paninis, croissants or half a baked potato- that sorta thing. We don't get meats and vegetables. I would bring my own but I get £2 a day for my free school meals so it would kinda be waste not to use the money school provides me. Because of this I usually just buy a panini and eat the insides or just not eat and buy bottled water instead, some days I just don't eat.
Eat the insides of the free lunch and add $1 of your own for a boiled egg / handful of nuts or something else filling that you love. $1 is not much for your own health and you are taking charge. Well done 🙂
Yes dear boy.well done.you are doing what you can sounds like and supplementing it with that little extra well spent on nuts and extra veggies and berries is the way to go.It is precisely what we will be doing this year as we are in the same situation in Dallas,Oregon USA.
Couple of other ideas more like left overs adapted to lunch box meals.. I do a good pork mince stir fry with lots of veggies and herbs (with no sticky sweet sauces added) and then my son takes cos or iceberge lettuce cups to school and spoons it in for a san choy bow stile lunch.. also he loves my home made coleslaw with some left over coconut chicken schnitzel or teriyaki BBQ chicken pieces. I have 6 year old twin boys. We have made excellent progress eating all low carb but I still can't get them off their morning weetbix! I have to say compared to other kids - they eat egg bacon muffins or a sausage for morning tea then Low carb lunch and dinner..So I don't stress too much about the cereal. Thanks for your site! We live all your ideas! JM
Fabulous ideas Julie! I love these. You are doing brilliantly, and like you say, don't stress about the weetbix, they may even come off them by themselves eventually. In the bigger picture, you're doing great. I love the fact you're living off my recipes - love it.
Thank you for posting this idea.
Great article! I have a 2 year old house was diagnosed with epilepsy this past year, and I've read hat a low carb/keto diet would be helpful for him. My question is, how do you get started? How do I get a 2 year old, who is used to eating pizza, pb&j and Mac n cheese, to eat healthy? Any advice? He is already a picky eater. Is he too young to say "If you don't eat what Moma made, you aren't eating anything?"
Are you able to start slowly? That's how I did it for my entire family. I started by cutting our the most obvious places of sugar and carbs such as sweets, cakes, ice cream and I made bread free lunches a few times a week. I started to go completely bread free after a few months as I introduced new low carb versions and knew we could rely on those. I then made our old dinners 'low carb style'. Go at the pace you think will suit your child depending on how quickly you want to see results versus world war three on your hands. There will be a transition period and glitches along the way but you will get there. A Facebook group you may wish to look at is for diabetics kids here but their struggles will be the same as yours for getting them onto low carb eating. Your 2 yr old can still enjoy pizza, waffles, ice cream as I have low carb versions of all of those, but my emphasis is to eventually getting kids to liking the savoury over the sweet meals. So shepherds pie, spaghetti bolognese, quiche etc. He doesn't need to go without, in fact, he is one lucky boy to have you by his side. 🙂 Libby.
I have a 5 year old who was diagnosed with epilepsy at 2 also. Eating has been a journey. A carb diet works better than medicine in controlling the epilepsy fr us. My best advice is eat low carb as a family. I have 5 children and everyone eats low carb! Add as much cream and butter to all your food. My sweet heart drinks stevia cream instead of milk. Organic dark chocolate which is high in magnesium is our treat 3 little squares has only 2 carbs.
im an Adult of 25.... Just been diagnosed with gluten intolerance.
Will this work for me ?
Absolutely, this would be perfect for someone who is gluten intolerant. This is such a healthier way to eat rather than eating gluten free foods. You might like this article I wrote on Gluten free vs Grain free - which is healthiest?
Im gluten intolerent also………great lunches. Just a few things to note. Salsa isn't always gluten free, and neither is sausage. I also don't eat olives, which are mostly not gluten free. Just check the labels. Vinegar is a big culprit found in a lot of things, and usually not gluten free. Thanks for the post!!
I’m gluten free as well. Rotisserie chicken and hard boiled eggs are really good protein sources. Watch out for ALL sauces... they tend to sneak stuff in.
Is there a menu u can help me with for my 1 year old?
When my children were young I always fed them pretty much what we ate. I have never cooked special meals or different foods. They even at spicy curries from an early age. The only thing I would have done differently, knowing what I do now, is not to give them so much bread, rice, pasta, treats etc. If I had a 1 year old now, I would still make all the recipes on my website for them. I would feed them meat, veggies, healthy fats, cheeses, avocados ..... If they grow up eating adult meals, they won't know any different, and you won't have battles at the dinner table in the future.
How do you keep apple and banana from turning black when included in kids lunchbox?
The banana goes in the lunchbox in it's skin, even if I give them half a banana, just the exposed cut end goes a little brown. A chopped apple, I cut into slices, put the apple back together again, then wrap in plastic cling film. There is a little oxidation that occurs, but if you can get most of the apple to stick back together, very little cut apple is exposed to the air. I also teach my children that a little brown on their food is OK. So many children will refuse any food if it is not 100% and we wonder why adults don't buy 'not so perfect looking' produce. You may not want to do this at the beginning, especially if you are making so many changes at once. Baby steps 🙂 x
What about avocado? I usually send a whole one because it turns gross...but isn't that too big of a serving when she gets turkey, cheese and a few berries?
I tend to send half an avocado made as salsa or with some lemon juice so it doesn't go brown. She can eat a whole avocado if she likes them, they are so fabulous.
Chrisna McClure - south africa
This looks so yummie can adults use this or have you got a adult list
These can be used for adults or children alike. For more lunchbox ideas, take a look at these recipes and my pinterest page. I tend to make my husband's salads every day with some leftover meat from dinner. He has a bottle of olive oil in his desk which he drizzles over when ready to eat.
Absolutely love your ideas. My husband and I have been banting on and off for a while - we're both athletic and, while he's more disciplined than I am, I still default to comfort food (Pasta, Pizza, Bread) every now and then. Because it's convenient. Because it's available. Because I buy trashy food for my kids !! Terrible - So now I'm trying to change their diet so that they too follow a low carb diet. It's always the school lunchboxes that trip me up so THANK YOU for the motivation. You're lunch boxes look like a rainbow explosion and my boys Love it
Cherona you made me smile so much this morning with such kind praise. It makes me so happy when parents find my page and get ideas for their kids lunches. I just cannot imagine eating any other way now. I too used to buy foods for my children that I wouldn't eat then I thought what on earth am I doing feeding them food I wouldn't touch. Even when we go out for meals now they know to look at the adults meals as I refuse to give them nuggets and 'kids food' as there is no way I would eat them. I think your comment is my best ever "You’re lunch boxes look like a rainbow explosion and my boys Love it"
I'd be interested to know if you have boys or girls... to be honest I look at these lunch boxes and am not sure it would be enough for my boys... also can I ask what you do when the prices of most portable 'veggies' go up in winter? $3 for a capsicum or cucumber!
I have 2 boys(8 and 11) and 1 girl. I have found my boys eat less now we are LCHF. They used to snack all the time. As for expensive veggies in the winter, I know what you mean. At the moment I am giving them carrot sticks and dips, cherry tomatoes, luckily my oldest boy loves cold cooked brussel sprouts and sometimes I can sneak leftover broccoli and grated cheese in there too. Peppers are too expensive now ($4) so I generally buy it for a dinner and keep some for their lunchbox. I give them plenty of leafy greens at dinner time so think within the day they get their veggies.
Love your sectioned colourful lunch boxes, where do you buy this type of lunch box please
They are Sistema lunch boxes sold in supermarkets in NZ. Worldwide this is similar from Amazon. Bento Lunch Box Container
I appreciate all of the great information you have compiled. Do your children drink regular milk? My husband and I are trying to decide if we should offer it to our daughter after her first birthday. She has been eating low carb up to this point. Thanks again!
Yes they drink full fat blue top milk. We gave up the watery skim milk looooong ago 🙂
We started our LCHF journey at new year, including my daughter who is 8. She was excited to choose a new lunch box with lots of different sections in it, which helped to dull the pain of not being allowed crips or chocolate bars! However after a couple of weeks I noticed she was eating less and less. When I questioned her about it, she said she didn't want to eat certain foods because her friends were laughing at her or commenting how horrid things looked! These same friends take lunch boxes filled with chocolate spread sandwiches, crisps and chocolate bars every day. We spoke to the teacher who dealt with it and now she's loving taking ham slices spread with cream cheese and rolled up, scotch eggs (from your recipe, thank you!) pots of tuna mayo, veg and dips. The only thing she won't take are boiled eggs and mackerel as she says they stink!!
We also tried sending her with one tiny square of 70% chocolate but the teacher said she's not allowed that....despite everyone else having numerous cakes/choc bars. Makes me mad!!
Try 70% chopped chocolate in with dry fruit or coconut flakes they sell this mix in supermarkets might get round it that way
I'd be telling the teacher to lay off.
i am rly hesistant to go grainfree with my kids. or more than moderately lowcarb using starchy vegs. my kids wud be ok PROBAbLY but i wonder about the astronomical grocery costs...spaghetti is about a dollar a box for wholewheat...the same amt of spag squash is $3. even finding zucchini n summer squash in the late fall n winter is almost impossible, let alone affording it to makes zoodles. meat goes well on romaine wraps, nut butters do not. cant afford meat more than once daily anyway...eggs at brkfst. beans go well with rice or corn tortillas, but kids squawked at having them with squash...they do like squash tho.
the cost n added food needed to fill them wen i try it puts me off. tried increasing fat intake. didnt seem to fill them any better. skim, active kids who are not picky eaters.
I was the same, but honestly a few weeks in and I think we are spending about the same. as they are eating differently, they aren't after all the snacks in between meals.