It’s the beginning of the school year and that means it’s that time to start packing healthy school lunches!
If you’re anything like me then this is not your favorite task. I wish I could derive pleasure from making beautiful lunches, but this is just one more chore on my list right after dishes and laundry.
However, healthy food is very important to our family, and so I have some ideas for you on how to pack healthy school lunches. With about six years behind me and many, many more ahead I’ve compiled my best tips for packing lunches that are healthy and that my kids will actually eat!
Way back in the preschool days, I wrote up some recipes I was using for school lunches. Theses were healthy alternatives to the store bought products it was assumed we would be sending.
Since those days, we’ve had a lot of dietary changes…MSPI, then to mostly paleo, then the GAPS diet. We have settled on somewhere between GAPS, and SCD Paleo, and to complicate things further, our school lunches must be vegetarian! So these healthy school lunch ideas will all be Paleo AND vegetarian.
Tips for Starting Right with School Lunches
1. Use early momentum to come up with ideas for your healthy school lunches and make a list to fall back on. Once October and November hit it starts getting hard to reinvent the wheel over and over, so to speak.
2. Have a plan for packing lunches: are you packing them the night before school? First thing in the morning? Are you packing leftovers or something new? If you’re packing leftovers, I suggest putting them directly in the lunch boxes when you’re wrapping up dinner. It’s such a time saver!
3. Pre-make batches of main course for busy days. My favorite days are those when I know I have a main course in the freezer. All I have to do is stick it in the lunch box with a fruit and vegetable and we’re all set.
4. Consider coming up with a formula for lunch so that you have to do minimal thinking in the morning. Our looks something like this: fruit + vegetable + protein + something fermented.
**The something fermented is for the GAPS diet so that they are getting probiotics. The other check I do is that the protein has a good amount of fat so that it is satiating. Since ours must be vegetarian, I will add some butter or avocado if I don’t think it will be filling enough.
20 Healthy School Lunches
Ok enough chit chat, let’s get to the ideas. All of the pictures were lunches for a 5 year old. They came back almost or completely eaten. (Our kids get snacks provided at school so those are not pictured, just the lunch).
Vegetable quiche/ orange slices / red bell peppers / homemade pickle / olives
Almond flour pancake with butter / clementines / fennel / seaweed snack
Coconut flour carrot cake with butter/ cucumber, celery, roasted carrots / figs/ tahini dipping sauce for vegetables
Tuna salad / sauerkraut / carrots/ guacamole / homemade pickle
Protein muffin with butter and probiotic / cucumber / carrots / apple
Scrambled egg / date chocolate balls / pickled turnip / olives / cucumber / apple
Squash bread with butter / apple slices / yellow bell pepper / homemade jello
Egg salad / cherry tomatoes and olives / orange slices / red bell pepper
Tuna / green beans / date / carrots / olives
Homemade goat milk yogurt / homemade trail mix/ apple / cucumber
Quiche / grapes / almonds and coconut pieces / cucumber
Carrot muffin / orange and blueberries / olives and pickles/ cucumber
Tuna / sauerkraut and olives / oranges/ cooked carrots
Homemade jello / scrambled egg / olives / clementines / cucumber
Carrot muffin / refried navy beans / cucumber
Yogurt with blueberries and honey / almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds / carrot / orange slices
Flax crackers with butter and cheese / scrambled egg / red bell peppers / orange slices
Squash bread with butter / green beans / carrot / sauerkraut / clementines
Refried navy beans / roasted butternut squash / red bell pepper/ honey chocolate
Squash bread with butter / Refried Navy Beans / Red bell pepper / Apple
School Lunch Packing Gear
If you’re wondering what containers all these healthy lunches are packed in, this is the short list. I only use stainless because they are easy to wash, don’t leach chemicals, and if a lunchbox gets forgotten and unwashed overnight the box will not stink!
Lunchbots Trio– These are my favorite boxes, I know that when they are full it’s the right amount of food, and I like adding a whole fruit on the side (less work than cutting!).
Planetbox Rover Lunch box – My kids’ favorite because of the 5 different sections. I find it a bit too heavy and hard to hand wash because the lid does not detach.
Kid Konserve Containers – These round containers with lids are amazing! We have had our set for 5 years and they do not leak!
Silicone Muffin Liners– use any kind. Some people like to sub divide the containers for different foods, but we use ours strictly for muffins.
Thermos Funtainer– Not pictured, but again we have used these for years. I regularly (every single week) send lentils to school and those go in a thermos, along with a whole veggie or fruit on the side.