The Healthiest Back-to-School Lunches Your Kids Will Love
When it comes to making your kid’s back-to-school lunches, creating a fun, fresh, and nutritious version can be a challenge. It also needs to be substantial, so they have enough energy to get them through the afternoon. Of course they're always going to want the sugary snacks, and while these taste good, they won’t give your children’s brains and bodies the fuel they need. Susan L. Johnson, Ph.D., director of the Children's Eating Laboratory at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, told Prevention “lunch should provide a third of your child's calories, vitamins, and minerals.” We know how it can be a struggle to keep them interested every day, too, so we rounded up some of the healthiest and most delicious back-to-school lunch ideas. Scroll down to see our favorites with recipes to try, too.
If there’s one meal kids will always put their hands up for, it’s the humble cheese quesadilla. It’s a great way to add some protein into their lunchbox, and you can use whole-wheat tortillas, too, for a healthier version. For an alternative to the simple cheese style, you can try The Kitchen Paper's recipe with cheddar, peas, and macaroni. Yum. Even adults will like this one. We also love the Family Fresh Meals version, which is cut up into smaller bites. Kids always love mini finger foods.
If you’re kids just aren’t eating any kind of sandwich (or lookalike versions), these healthy mini frittatas are a winner. Even fussy eaters will love these. You can bake them on a Sunday and freeze them for the week ahead. Try this Oh Sweet Day frittata recipe. So tasty, you'll want to eat them, too.
These are so much fun to make, and they're always winners with kids, because they love taking each piece off the stick. Most people already have wooden skewers in their cutlery drawer, or you could ramp up the cute factor with fun bento-style picks instead. The best part about stick sandwiches is there’s no recipe. It’s all about your child and what they love. Easy peasy. But if you really want something to guide you the first time around, then the By Stephanie Lynn club sandwich on a stick is pretty amazing.
This is the perfect alternative for those kids who don’t like sandwiches, or just need a break from them for a while. It’s a perfectly balanced meal all in one cute little parcel. You can swap out the white flour for flatbread made from gluten-free rice flour, or there are delicious whole-wheat versions, too. Then fill them up with veggies, protein, and dairy. We love the easy wrap recipe from Lauren's Latest or this chicken and salad wraps from Taste.
This is the most delicious sandwich alternative, and they look cool, too. You can pack in all the best veggies, tofu, or preferred meats, along with their favorite noodles. You could tell them they’re rainbow rolls or superhero rolls with invisibility cloaks. We love The Kitchn's rice paper roll recipe.
This has got to be the simplest and most delicious school lunch. It’s also super quick, and the ingredients can be varied according to your child’s taste. The beans are a great source of protein, and you can mix in some shredded tofu, chicken, or beef, too. If you’re worried about the lettuce wilting, add a frozen pack and sit it next to the tacos in their lunchbox. Alternatively, you could use a different vegetable like shredded carrots or celery. You can even pack it in a freezable lunchbox to keep it extra chill until recess. Try these mini taco salad cups by Damn Delicious.
These are a fail-safe lunch option. There are so many recipes to try, from the simple to the gourmet, and they’re a great way to use up leftovers, too. You can make them with lentils for vegetarians and pork or beef for meat lovers. These sausage rolls are jam packed with goodness, free of nasties, and made with love.