31 Healthy Kid-Friendly Lunchbox Ideas

31 Healthy Toddler Lunchbox Ideas

Planning your kid-friendly lunchbox doesn’t have to be difficult. Follow these tips and ideas for healthy and delicious recipes for your children.

The end of the school year is upon us but for most that means we have at least another few weeks of packing school lunchboxes. If you’re like me, you’re likely getting burned out coming up with new, creative, and (at least somewhat) healthy lunches for your littles ones. Heck, none of us want to have that now infamous note sent home from our child’s teacher for sending “unhealthy Oreos.”

Last year when Ellie started 2-year-old Mother’s Day Out, I started taking pictures of her lunchbox each morning and sharing them on my Facebook page, blog and Pinterest board. I also felt that posting her lunch (however bad the pics are!) kept me accountable for offering new and healthy foods each day. I quickly discovered that Ellie was more likely to try new foods and eat better at school than at home so capitalizing on that eating experience was key for me (and her overall nutrition).

Like many things, life happened and while I was still making lunchboxes day, after day, after day…baby #2 came along and the pictures started to wane. Now that Frances is eating a more substantial school lunch, I’ve picked back up on taking the pictures to share the girls’ lunchboxes.

Under each picture is a short description of what was sent for the girls each day. I always strive for variety and at least 3 food groups. What often isn’t readily understood is that lunch is a balance of breakfast and dinner. For example, the girls often eat whole wheat waffles with milk and fruit for breakfast. When this is the case, they don’t always have a whole grain food at lunch. However, they’re getting other grains for a snack or at dinner. Remember, BALANCE is always key!

Scroll through each lunchbox for more tips and thoughts between the lunches.

*BUY the containers!*

I’m always asked where to find the Rubbermaid containers and the Bentgo lunch boxes. Check out my SHOP page to find everything you need!

(Update 11/2015)

Also check out these Weekly Lunchbox Roundups featuring lunches for my now older girls

Healthy Lunchbox Meal Plan: Week 1 *Check back every week for a new meal plan. Tune into Instagram daily for the lunchbox of the day! | www.holleygrainger.com/blog

Week 1: Healthy Lunchbox Meal Plan

Healthy Lunchbox Meal Plan: Week 2 *Check back every week for a new meal plan. Tune into Instagram daily for the lunchbox of the day! | www.holleygrainger.com/blog

Week 2: Healthy Lunchbox Meal Plan

Healthy Lunchbox Meal Plan: Week 3 -- A week of delicious and easy lunchbox meals for your little ones.

Week 3: Healthy Lunchbox Meal Plan

Healthy Lunchbox Meal Plan: Week 4 -- A week of delicious and easy lunchbox meals for your little ones.

Week 4: Healthy Lunchbox Meal Plan

Week 5: Healthy Lunchbox Meal Plan for Your Preschool and Elementary School Children via www.HolleyGrainger.com/blog

Week 5: Healthy Lunchbox Meal Plan

LUNCHBOX RECIPES FROM 2014-2015 School Year:

Ellie: leftover slice of cheese pizza from our fave spot in Birmingham, Vecchia, "5 green beans" (requested for them to be counted out), about 1 cup of watermelon cubes Frances: 1/2 cup yogurt, 1/2 cup watermelon, 1/3 cup canned, no-salt-added green beans, whole-grain graham cracker

Ellie: leftover slice of cheese pizza from our fave spot in Birmingham, Vecchia, “5 green beans” (requested for them to be counted out), about 1 cup of watermelon cubes
Frances: 1/2 cup yogurt, 1/2 cup watermelon, 1/3 cup canned, no-salt-added green beans, whole-grain graham cracker

Frances: 1/3-cup whole-milk yogurt, 1/4 cup green beans, 1/4 cup cantaloupe Ellie: 1/2 cup cantaloupe, 1/4 cup green beans, 1 cup spaghetti & meat sauce

Frances: 1/3-cup whole-milk yogurt, 1/4 cup green beans, 1/4 cup cantaloupe
Ellie: 1/2 cup cantaloupe, 1/4 cup green beans, 1 cup spaghetti & meat sauce

Ellie: yogurt tube, about 1-oz no-salt-added Boar's Head turkey, 1/2-oz Cabot cheddar, 2 tbsp green beans, 1 tbsp ranch Frances: whole-milk yogurt, 1/2 cup green beans, 1/2 cup orange segments

Ellie: yogurt tube, about 1-oz no-salt-added Boar’s Head turkey, 1/2-oz Cabot cheddar, 2 tbsp green beans, 1 tbsp ranch Frances: whole-milk yogurt, 1/2 cup green beans, 1/2 cup orange segments

 

A few notes about these lunches:

-All pics are taken from overhead so it is sometimes hard to get a feel for the depth of the container. I’ve tried to share an estimated amount of each item.

-We aren’t perfect and I’m not afraid to send items with a little bit of sugar, salt, or fat if that means that my girls will eat the food. Since this is the case, I find ways to balance their intake of said nutrient later in the day. For example, I don’t love sending some brands of yogurt because of the amount of added sugar BUT I’ve had a hard time getting them to eat plain yogurt sweetened with fruit SO yogurt with some sugar is a better plan to me than no yogurt at all.

 

Frances: 1/4 cup yogurt, 2 Tbsp green beans, 2 Tbsp steamed carrots, 1/2 graham crakcer Ellie: 4 whole-grain chicken breast nuggets ("Mickey Chicken"), 1 Tbsp ranch, 3 no-salt-added green beans, 1/4 cup yogurt, 1/4 cup strawberries

Frances: 1/4 cup yogurt, 2 Tbsp green beans, 2 Tbsp steamed carrots, 1/2 graham crakcer
Ellie: 4 whole-grain chicken breast nuggets (“Mickey Chicken”), 1 Tbsp ranch, 3 no-salt-added green beans, 1/4 cup yogurt, 1/4 cup strawberries

More notes about the lunches….

-Pretty much all of the containers are from Rubbermaid. My sister works for Newell Rubbermaid so I’ve been fortunate that she shares some of her samples!

-Drinks: For the most part, Ellie drinks water at school each day. Unless she specifically asks for “milk from home” or some juice, I just let them give her water. I send a cup of milk or water (previously a bottle of formula) for Frances each day.

Frances: soy milk yogurt, 1 cup fruit salad, 4 mini wheat cereal, 1/4 cup mac and cheese Ellie: 1/2 cup strawberries, 1/4 cup carrots, 1 Tbsp Sabra hummus, 1/2 cup mac and cheese

Frances: soy milk yogurt, 1 cup fruit salad, 4 mini wheat cereal, 1/4 cup mac and cheese
Ellie: 1/2 cup strawberries, 1/4 cup carrots, 1 Tbsp Sabra hummus, 1/2 cup mac and cheese

Just a few more notes:

-The size of the lunches vary, especially for Frances. What I don’t have explained under each pic is whether it was taken in January or the other day in early May. Over the course of the few months, Frances’s appetite and ability to eat different foods has grown.

-Uneaten food comes home so I’ve been able to watch eating trends as well as determine whether or not I’ve over or under packing. The girls often eat lunch leftovers for an after school snack or dinner.

Ellie: fruit & veggie squeezie, 1-ounce low-sodium turkey breast, 1/4 cup fresh pineapple, graham cracker Frances: whole-milk yogurt, 1-ounce low-sodium turkey breast, 1/4 cup fresh blueberries, 1/2 graham cracker

Ellie: fruit & veggie squeezie, 1-ounce low-sodium turkey breast, 1/4 cup fresh pineapple, graham cracker
Frances: whole-milk yogurt, 1-ounce low-sodium turkey breast, 1/4 cup fresh blueberries, 1/2 graham cracker

Ellie: 1/2 cup fresh pineapple, 1/2 cup fresh strawberries, 2oz chicken breast, 1/4 cup green beans, 1 tbsp ranch Frances (getting over the stomach bug): 1/4 cup noodles, applesauce, banana, graham cracker

Ellie: 1/2 cup fresh pineapple, 1/2 cup fresh strawberries, 2oz chicken breast, 1/4 cup green beans, 1 tbsp ranch
Frances (getting over the stomach bug): 1/4 cup noodles, applesauce, banana, graham cracker

Ellie: Greek yogurt, 1/4 cup brown rice, 3/4 cup strawberries, 3 whole wheat chicken breast nuggets Frances: whole-milk yogurt, 1/4 cup brown rice, 1/4 cup steamed squash, 1/2 cup strawberries

Ellie: Greek yogurt, 1/4 cup brown rice, 3/4 cup strawberries, 3 whole wheat chicken breast nuggets
Frances: whole-milk yogurt, 1/4 cup brown rice, 1/4 cup steamed squash, 1/2 cup strawberries

Ellie: fruit and veggie squeezie, cheese, 1/2 cup yogurt, 1/2 cup berries Frances: 1/2 cup yogurt, 1/4 cup berries, 1/2 cup steamed carrots

Ellie: fruit and veggie squeezie, cheese, 1/2 cup yogurt, 1/2 cup berries
Frances: 1/2 cup yogurt, 1/4 cup berries, 1/2 cup steamed carrots

Frances: applesauce, 1 cup noodles, chicken, tomato, cheddar cheese, and corn Ellie: 3 whole wheat chicken breast nuggets, 1 tbsp ranch, 3 slices cucumber, 1 cup Halo segments and blueberries

Frances: applesauce, 1 cup noodles, chicken, tomato, cheddar cheese, and corn
Ellie: 3 whole wheat chicken breast nuggets, 1 tbsp ranch, 3 slices cucumber, 1 cup Halo segments and blueberries

Frances: 1 boiled egg, fruit and veggie squeezie, 1/4 cup whole grain O's, 1/2 cup Halo segments and strawberries Ellie: 1 egg white, 2 Tbsp Sabra hummus, 5 cucumber slices, 1/2 cup popcorn, 1 cup grapes

Frances: 1 boiled egg, fruit and veggie squeezie, 1/4 cup whole grain O’s, 1/2 cup Halo segments and strawberries
Ellie: 1 egg white, 2 Tbsp Sabra hummus, 5 cucumber slices, 1/2 cup popcorn, 1 cup grapes

Frances: banana, 1/4 whole grain tortilla with sun butter cut into squares, 1/2 cup blueberries, 1/2 cup mixed brown rice and corn Ellie: 3/4 cup grapes, string cheese, 1/2 whole grain tortilla with sun butter, 1  Tbsp pistachios, 1 tsp mini chocolate chips, 5 mini marshmallows

Frances: banana, 1/4 whole grain tortilla with sun butter cut into squares, 1/2 cup blueberries, 1/2 cup mixed brown rice and corn
Ellie: 3/4 cup grapes, string cheese, 1/2 whole grain tortilla with sun butter, 1  Tbsp pistachios, 1 tsp mini chocolate chips, 5 mini marshmallows

Frances: bottle of infant formula, Beechnut babyfood, 1/4 cup raspberries, 1/4 cup no-salt-added corn Ellie: "cow yogurt," 1/2 cup berries, Sun Butter Sushi: 1 6-inch flour tortilla spread with 1 Tbsp sun butter and half banana rolled up

Frances: bottle of infant formula, Beechnut babyfood, 1/4 cup raspberries, 1/4 cup no-salt-added corn
Ellie: “cow yogurt,” 1/2 cup berries, Sun Butter Sushi: 1 6-inch flour tortilla spread with 1 Tbsp sun butter and half banana rolled up

Frances: 1/4 cup blueberries, 1 slice low-sodium turkey breast, 1/4 cup green beans, 1 Tbsp hummus Ellie: carrot sticks, 2 Tbsp hummus, 2 Tbsp mini marshmallows, 2 slices low-sodium turkey breast, 1/2 cup blueberries

Frances: 1/4 cup blueberries, 1 slice low-sodium turkey breast, 1/4 cup green beans, 1 Tbsp hummus
Ellie: carrot sticks, 2 Tbsp hummus, 2 Tbsp mini marshmallows, 2 slices low-sodium turkey breast, 1/2 cup blueberries

Ellie: 1 ounce low-sodium turkey breast, 1 cheese stick, 1 Halo, 1/4 cup whole-grain O's, Greek yogurt Frances; sick :(

Ellie: 1 ounce low-sodium turkey breast, 1 cheese stick, 1 Halo, 1/4 cup whole-grain O’s, Greek yogurt
Frances; sick :(

I want to hear from you! What do your children love to eat in their lunchbox? Please share in the comments! Also, many of these lunches would be a perfect fit for school-aged children so please share with any moms and dads looking for ideas and inspiration!

 

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