Pa-lease tell me I’m not the only one that always had the same reoccuring back to school dream of walking in to class completely naked. Never failed – every night before that big first day, the nude dream creeped into my subconscious and freaked me out. Graduating from college meant many things, but the most important was kissing the awkward naked nightmares goodbye. I can’t guarantee your kids won’t be haunted with the same dreams, but I can give you an awesome list of 30 healthy back to school lunch ideas (that aren’t all sandwiches).
A dear friend requested I write this post as her little one is starting preschool this fall. She’s that kind of mom friend you can text and say things like, “Ok I understand why they say never shake a baby, but is it ok to shake a toddler?” or “I’m trying to go #2 and I see little fingers under the door so I feel like I need to hurry but I just want like three minutes”. Then she responds with, “I’m drinking a big @ss glass of wine as I’m giving both boys a bath” or “I ate blueberries off the floor because he threw them all but I didn’t want them to go to waste. Seriously feeding him cardboard if he does it again”. She’s the mom friend every mom needs.
And for the record, it’s not ok to shake a toddler….apparently. (KIDDING!)
So when you’re the mom that can laugh and cry at the same time or jokes about running away, but truly can’t imagine a second without those addicting round ‘lil cheeks….If you’re the mom that isn’t Martha meets Pinterest yet still wants to feed your little one healthy and nutritious meals, I got you covered (and I like you, a lot).
Making lunches for your kids doesn’t have to be a grand production, or a stressor in your already crazy life! So if you are worried that pb & j’s are the extent of your creativity and need some better alternatives, check these out!
30 Healthy Back to School Lunch Ideas
#1. Deli meat wrapped around pickle spears
#3. Avocado and cucumber sandwiches on whole wheat, gluten-free, or sprouted grain bread
#4. Lunchbox Kabobs from It Is A Keeper
#5. Build your own pizza with a whole wheat english muffin, pizza sauce, and variety of vegetables
#6. Hard boiled eggs
#7. Cinnamon spinach mini flapjacks
#8. DIY chicken salad (made leftover shredded chicken, paleo mayo, and sliced grapes) with whole grain or rice crackers
#9. Almond butter and hemp seed banana ‘sushi’ from Fit Foodie Finds
#10. Paleo carrot cake energy balls
#11. Grilled chicken tenders with choice of dipping sauce (hummus, honey mustard, sunshine dip, etc.)
#12. Build your own tacos (separately packed soft tortillas, beans, guacamole, shredded chicken, cheese, etc) inspired by Forks, Folks and Fun
#13. Lunchbox turkey and cheese “sushi” from The Weary Chef
#14. Mini skewers – protein of choice on toothpicks or mini skewers with previously roasted veggies
#15. 4-Ingredient Carrot Stars from Feeding Fin
#16. Apples, thinly sliced with nut butter in between for ‘sandwiches’
#17. Organic hot dogs or chicken sausages, quartered for easy finger food
#18. Paleo broccoli “cheese” sticks
#19. Build your own pita pockets – protein of choice, lettuce, tomatoes, etc.
#20. Spinach sweet potato tots
#21. Roasted fingerling potatoes with hummus or sunshine sauce to dip
#22. Pea and Sweet Corn Fritters from My Fussy Eater
#23. Grain-free crepes with shredded chicken or sliced ham, spinach, and cheese OR strawberry chia seed spread
#24. Flaxseed crackers with tuna or deli meat
#25. Chicken and rice patties from Planning with Kids
#26. Gluten-free sweet potato cereal
#27. Sandwich kabobs from Mom Endeavors
#28. Prosciutto & Egg Roll Ups from Nom Nom Paleo
#29. Mashed sweet potatoes with almond butter or leftover protein to top
#30. Almond butter or cashew butter and strawberry chia ‘jam’ on whole grain or gluten free english muffins
Need some additional finger food side ideas? Here are a few!
Mini sweet peppers
Berries of any kind
Sugar snap pease
Broccoli or cauliflower florets
Stacey S says
Boom!!!!!!! Love love love this. Thank you!!!!! And thank you for being my friend xoxoxo
Phfffff what would I do without YOU!??!?! Seriously. 😉 Love ya girlfriend
Rebecca @ Strength and Sunshine says
I’d want the little spinach flapjacks in MY lunchbox 😉
I’ll send ya some! They are pretty good (and fun)!!
I can’t even believe I have to start thinking about lunches again so soon, but I do. Ugh. These are genius though and will definitely use the ideas for the kiddos….and me.
I know, I know. Summer flew by!!! But hopefully this will make life a little easier when BTS hits SOON!
Haha I think we’ve all had those crazy dreams! This is a great roundup of delicious lunch ideas! I love changing it up from just boring sandwiches! 🙂
I feel like that’s just scratching the surface of my crazy dreams! I better not share or else I may turn a bunch of peeps off 😉 Thanks Cara!
I need to remember some of these ideas! My kids go back to school in 2 weeks!!! Yikes…
EEEEEEK! It’s coming so soon! What happened to summer?!?
Love this! I’m always looking for healthy meal ideas!! Sounds awesome!
Glad you like it Abbey!
Cassandra @ Powered By BLING says
I love those Turkey “sushi” rolls! I never thought about using shredded cheese in place of rice. Great idea!!!! I also love the kabob ideas.
Lots of goodies to try! Such fun finger foods for the kiddos AND adults. Thanks Cassandra!
Deborah @ Confessions of a mother runner says
Those are all great creative ideas. Love the kabobs and I think my son would too
Thanks Deborah! Kabobs are just always fun – regardless of what’s on ’em!
Kayla @ Blondes Have More Run says
haha I can’t say I have ever had that naked dream! But I can say these snacks all look awesome!
NEVER?! What?! I thought it was really common? Now I just feel like a weirdo! HA. Thanks Kayla 😉
Wow! These look so yummy. Great ways to mix it up. Lunches can get so boring each day.
these are great! (and not just for kids) i can always use new lunch inspiration!
Definitely not just for kids. Adults love finger food too, right?!
Liz @ I Heart Vegetables says
So many great ideas! I Can’t wait to pack some of these for work 🙂 haha I love the sound of those carrot cake bites!
Good call! Yes get on those carrot cake bites! They aren’t overly sweet so feel free to add more honey if you like ’em sweeter 😉
GiGi Eats says
Paleo Egg Pizza Cups for me – EVERY DAY! haha!
E-V-E-R-Y-D-A-Y seriously. I mean, pizza says it all….
Those pizza cups are ultra convenient!
YES! I love them for breakfast AND lunch!
Jess @hellotofit says
Okay, I’m not in school any more but these are AWESOME ideas!! I sometimes despise lunch time because I never know what to make – not in the mood for a sandwich but don’t to eat a) leftovers that are supposed to be for dinner, or b) the food I plan to make for dinner. LOVE!
Thanks Jess! Adults can certainly enjoy too. I seriously get in to the salad or leftovers rut ALL THE TIME so I can totally relate to your sentiments!
Angela @marathonsandmotivation.com says
Wow! Lots of great ideas here, I can’t wait to try a few… healthy & kid friendly, I think my little ones will enjoy a lot of these recipes, thanks for sharing!!!
My pleasure! I hope your little loves a bunch of these – makes life easy when lunch or dinner happens!
Heather @ Polyglot Jot says
This is a great resource for work lunches too! I get tired of the same old same old. I had the naked dream quite often too. I also dreamed that I would get to school and realize that I forgot my backpack and all of my books. haha!
Totally! Plus, finger foods can be fun for adults too 😉 Ugh the naked dream – I still get a yucky feeling in my stomach when I think about it!!!
Jill Conyers says
Great and totally doable ideas Chrissa. My son will like the as he gets ready to move back to college.
Kindergarten, college…doesn’t matter. All kiddos need lunch ideas, regardless of their age! 😉
Beverley @ Born to Sweat says
hahaha she sounds like the perfect kind of friend!! I love that. also i can’t even IMAGINE not having my own poop time without it being disturbed. these things i dont even THINK of when it comes to having children hahahah
Poop time is a special time – it should NEVER be interrupted. I didn’t think about it prior to a child either, so don’t worry about it. But enjoy your ‘you’ time now 😉
These are awesome! I think my son had the exact same thing for lunch every day last year, so I think I need to step up my game. Watch out Martha 😉
LOL! Martha’s got NOTHING on you Shann!!!
Shani | Sunshine & Munchkins says
Great ideas! My kids could definitely get into these and I just might make a few for me too!
Love it! You AND the kiddos can totally share some of these healthy lunch ideas! Thanks Shani!
rachel @ athletic avocado says
so many great ideas!!! pinning for later 🙂
Thanks so much Rachel!
Well, I’m not going back to school but I’m definitely going to have to try some of these!!! <3
Good idea Susannah. We don’t have to go back to school to enjoy these lunch ideas (come to think of it, we should go back to school shopping while we’re at it – do you agree??) 😉
So many delicious ideas! Hardboiled eggs are one of my favorite easy + portable snacks! I really want those roasted potatoes + corn fritters!
I love hard boiled eggs too – such an easy, nutritious food to grab and go! Thanks Farrah!