I am familiar with the challenges of packing a healthy lunch box for picky eaters. My kids will not buy lunch at school, and insist on taking their lunch and a snack every day. I’ve had to experiment with different foods for years, and I have finally learned what foods to pack in their lunch boxes that are both healthy and tasty. It’s not a perfect method, and my older daughter who is extremely picky brings some of the food back now and then saying she didn’t like it or that it doesn’t taste good. It’s a learning process!

It’s very tempting to pack easy lunch boxes filled with prepackaged foods available in local markets like Lunchables. However foods like Lunchables contain lots of unhealthy preservatives, and provide very little nutrition. But it’s actually quite easy to pack something similar to Lunchables. Kids generally like bite size portions that are separated into small compartments. Most local stores like Walmart and Target have 3-4 compartment lunch containers that you can fill with similar foods. You can choose healthier alternatives like lean turkey slices, cheese bites, grapes and crackers to fill up the compartments.
Below are some ideas for packing lunch boxes for snacks and lunch time. Most grocery stores like Vons and Ralphs now offer organic options of the following foods as well.

Snack breaks in most schools are only about 15 to 20 minutes so there isn’t much time to eat a large meal. These are some healthier options for snack time to offset this situation:

  1. Low-fat fruit yogurts or yogurt drinks.
  2. Cut up fruit like melons, apples or bite size fruits like grapes or tangerines.
  3. Unsalted Almonds.
  4. Blueberry muffin or any other low sugar healthy muffin.
  5. Celery sticks with peanut butter for dipping or if your child is allergic to peanuts you can use yogurt or ranch dressing as an alternative.
  6. Baby carrots are also popular with kids.

Lunch time is usually longer and kids have more time to eat. Here are 3 tasty and healthy lunch options:

  1. Lean turkey sandwich with your choice of cheese, wholegrain bread and shredded lettuce. My daughter likes mustard on this sandwich, but you can add mayo or any other sauce. If your child doesn’t like lettuce, you can pack the lettuce in a separate small container with some shredded carrots.
  2. Pizza roll up bites: spread pizza sauce on a tortilla. Top with spinach and mozzarella cheese. Heat until cheese is melted. Roll up carefully and let it cool. Once cooled, you can cut into bite size pieces. Place them in a multi-compartment lunch container and add some sliced cucumbers and melons in the other compartments.
  3. Penne pasta with turkey meat balls: In a small pot cook the pasta until soft. Drain the pasta and add a little olive oil to your pot to mix and coat the pasta. Remove from heat and add a small amount of Parmesan cheese to it. I use the frozen turkey meat balls from Trader Joe’s but you can get other brands at your local grocery store. I cook the meat balls in a little marinara sauce but you can cook it according to your child’s preference. Place the pasta in a small thermos and add the meat balls on top. This takes me about 15 minutes to prepare in the morning.

Packing a drink is easy for me since my kids don’t like juice. I usually just add water bottles in their lunch boxes, but if your child likes juice there are now healthier options with no added sugars in smaller portions for convenience.

I hope these ideas were helpful. I would love to hear some of your lunchbox ideas in the comments below!