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Healthy School Lunches: 8 Ways to Keep It Fresh

Kids School Lunch Ideas
Getting your kids to eat healthy when they’re away from home can be tricky. At home, it’s easy to say “You’ve had enough cookies.” At school, though, kids are presented with a lot of opportunities to make their own choices and those choices are often bad ones. One way to make sure your kid is eating healthy at school is to pack a healthy lunch that they actually want to eat more than the junk food provided by the school. To make sure they actually eat what you send, it’s important to mix things up so they don’t get bored with lunch. After the jump, some fresh, healthy, and tasty ideas to make lunch fun for your kids.


  • Fruit salad 1 of 8
    Fruit salad
    We usually send our daughter to school with fresh fruit, but we found that a lot of apples, bananas, and oranges were coming home mostly uneaten. One way to combat that has been to make a quick fruit salad in the morning, putting some in her lunch and sticking the rest in the fridge for an afternoon snack. Now she's actually eating her fruit and we're feeling less guilty about throwing away apples with two bites taken from them.

    Make starry fruit salad
  • Veggies and dips 2 of 8
    Veggies and dips
    Sending your kids to school with veggies a great idea, but sending them to school with a tasty dip they can only eat if they use their veggies is an even better one. Hummus and carrot or celery sticks is a popular option. We're also fond of this homemade pinto bean hummus.
    Make pinto bean dip
  • Hard-boiled eggs 3 of 8
    Hard-boiled eggs
    Let's face it, there's a good chance your kid won't eat the yolk, but even if they just eat the whites, hard-boiled eggs make for a fantastic protein-packed lunch treat. They have the added benefit of being fun for kids as they involve breaking an egg shell and breaking things is a real treat for kids.
    Make heart-shaped hard boiled eggs
  • Yogurt 4 of 8
    Yogurt
    Kids love yogurt and if you choose a lightly sweetened one, it can serve as a dessert that actually has some nutritional content instead of cookies or granola bars. We prefer to eat organic yogurts like YoBaby or YoKids, because we think dairy is a place where it makes sense to spend a little extra for organic, and because their fruit flavors make the yogurt sweet without too many added calories.
    5 terrific reasons to try yogurt
  • Golden raisins 5 of 8
    Golden raisins
    When I was a kid, I hated raisins. But golden raisins, those were something else. For whatever reason, golden raisins maintain a little novelty that makes them exciting for kids who don't otherwise like raisins. They probably won't work their magic forever, but they are a nice way to mix things up.
    Make summertime trail mix
    Image: Julie Van Rosendaal
  • Whole wheat noodles 6 of 8
    Whole wheat noodles
    When we were kids, the main variation in our school lunches was grape jelly or strawberry jelly. It's a weird thing how the sandwich has come to dominate the packed lunch, but there are really a lot of alternatives. Noodles are a great option because they're good cold if your child won't be able to heat them up. We find with a little soy sauce, our daughter will wolf these down.
    Make silly green alphabet pasta
    Image: Kathy Patalsky
  • Nuts 7 of 8
    Nuts
    Nuts are one of the healthiest snacks around and will give your kid the energy to power through the end of the day when that worksheet on the continents is just staring at them waiting to be done. If your school cafeteria is a peanut-free zone, consider pistachios or cashews. Both are a little more expensive than peanuts, but both have a taste that's appealing to kids and make for a filling snack.
    Make spiced pistachios

    Image: Aggie Goodman
  • Freeze-dried fruit 8 of 8
    Freeze-dried fruit
    Freeze-dried fruit is definitely not cheap, but it does make a nice healthy treat, so we'll by a few packs every now and again. It's fun for kids and it has all the intense flavor they want from sweets without actually being sweets. It's not the most efficient way to use your lunch budget, but it's an excellent surprise for special occasions.
    Freeze dried fruit: what's the story?
    Image: Kelsey Banfield

A big thanks to YoBaby for sponsoring this campaign. Click here to see more of the discussion.

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