kids lunch ideas - else kids shakes

35 Creative Kids Lunch Ideas for Happy, Healthy Tummies

Looking for nutritious kids lunch ideas that won’t get traded away at the lunch table? We’ve got you covered with a host of options ranging from veggie-packed alternatives to thermos-ready delights that keep lunchtime interesting and sustenance well-rounded. Explore our simple, kid-approved strategies to turn everyday lunch packing into an opportunity for your children to enjoy a colorful variety of flavors while getting the nutrients they need.

kids lunch ideas - Else Nutrition Shakes for Kids

Key Takeaways

  • A balanced lunchbox for kids should include a variety of proteins, carbs, healthy fats, fruits, and veggies for sustained energy and growth.

  • Plant-powered shakes from Else Nutrition offer a convenient, low-sugar option packed with whole food ingredients, providing an easy solution for busy days.

  • Involve kids in lunch prep for educational opportunities, and consider eco-friendly lunch practices to minimize environmental impact.

Building a Balanced Lunchbox

Kids lunch ideas

Packing healthy lunches for your little ones can be likened to filling a treasure chest with wholesome gems. The key is variety - a mix of:

  • Protein: like a warrior, fights off hunger, keeping the energy levels steady throughout the school day

  • Carbohydrates and healthy fats: vital energy sources, backing up the protein and supporting overall growth and development in children

  • Fruits and vegetables: provide essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber

Now, isn’t that a power-packed lunchbox?

So, what does this mean when we talk about real food? Well, think mini sandwiches with lean chicken salad, whole grain crackers topped with egg salad, or pasta salad with a rainbow of veggies. And don’t forget the snacks! Add in a mix of fruits, veggies, and trail mix for a mid-day munch, and voila, you’ve got yourself a balanced lunch box packed with nutrients and flavors. These are just a few healthy lunch box ideas to get you started.

Protein-Packed Lunch Ideas

Let’s delve into the realm of proteins. We’ve all heard that proteins are the building blocks of life, but did you know they’re also the superheroes of a kid’s lunchbox?

Healthy proteins from:

  • plant sources

  • fish

  • eggs are always a better choice for children over red and processed meats.


How about turkey and cheese roll-ups for Monday, rotisserie chicken with BBQ sauce for Tuesday, and Greek-inspired meal prep bowls with falafel for Wednesday? Or switch things up with Tangy Chicken Salad with Grapes, Chickpea ‘chicken’ salad, or Quinoa deli salad featuring ham and mozzarella. Each of these protein-packed options not only offers a variety, but they also keep hunger at bay, ensuring your little ones stay energized throughout the day.

Else Nutrition Plant-Powered Ready to Drink Kids Shakes Make On-the-Go Nutrition a Breeze!

else kids shakes lunch ideas


Let’s discuss our solution that simplifies nutrition on the move - Else Nutrition Plant-Powered Ready to Drink Kids Shakes. These shakes are not only delicious, but they’re also low in sugar - with 50% less sugar than the leading brand - and are packed with over 90% whole food ingredients.

Each serving contains:

  • 9g of pure, plant-powered protein

  • A healthier choice for nurturing growing bodies on the move

  • A kids-approved taste

  • 50% less sugar than the leading brand!

Even the pickiest eaters won’t be able to resist them.

Dr. Nancy Lin PhD says, "Closing nutrition gaps can be a real struggle, yet kids don't need another ultra-processed drinks. Else shakes are Pediatrician-approved and with a kid-approved taste. It's not just about filling kids tummies, it's important to also nurture them with healthier choices."

Fun and Healthy Sandwich Alternatives

Who declared that sandwiches are the lone choice for lunch? Break away from the traditional with creative alternatives like lettuce wraps, rice cakes, and veggie-loaded quesadillas. These alternatives provide the same satisfaction as sandwiches but with unique textures and flavors.

Try toast with hummus and cucumber or cream cheese and tomato. Or go for nut butter and blueberries for a sweet twist. These options not only serve as healthy snacks but also provide an interesting variety to the usual sandwich routine. And if you’re worried about the kids missing their sandwiches, introducing thinner breads such as pita bread, sandwich thins, or tortillas can help them get used to different textures and flavors, fostering their acceptance of sandwiches over time.

Veggie-Focused Lunch Options

Next in line - the realm of veggies! Encouraging kids to eat more vegetables can sometimes feel like an uphill battle, but not when you have a colorful army of veggie-focused lunch options. Meal-prep vegan lettuce wraps, vegetarian burrito bowls, or a smoky chickpea salad - all of these options are colorful, flavorful, and loaded with veggies, including baby carrots.

Try a verdant three grain salad with goat cheese and a mix of vegetables, paired with a miso-dressed broccoli salad with peas, boiled eggs, and radishes. Or go for bowls consisting of sweet potato and cauliflower with lentils or cumin roasted vegetables with tahini dressing. These options not only provide delicious taste profiles but also contribute significantly to the daily recommended servings of vegetables.

Nutritious Pasta Salads

Pasta salads - the ultimate comfort food! But did you know they can also be a powerhouse of nutrition? By using whole-grain pasta and lean proteins, you can create healthy and tasty pasta salads for kids. Whole-grain farfalle pasta can be the base for a nutritious salad, with colorful veggies such as carrots, cucumbers, and bell peppers.

Add some lean proteins like chicken to enhance their nutritional value. For example, a chicken pasta salad can be a tasty and filling option. Or try an artichoke and spinach rotini salad with tuna for a protein-rich alternative that serves as a fresh twist on traditional pasta salads. Remember, fun pasta shapes and familiar veggies can increase the meal’s appeal, making it a hit with the kids.

DIY Lunch Kits

Let’s turn innovative with DIY Lunch Kits. You can create a printable recipe list to mix and match hundreds of lunch combinations. It’s a flexible and convenient way to plan your meals. The possibilities are endless, and the best part? You can use reusable containers and bento-style lunch boxes for an eco-friendly approach.

Small changes like using different types of bread or presenting snacks in various shapes can contribute to the variety in DIY lunch kits. Including different foods such as proteins, carbs, fruits, and snacks ensures children enjoy a balanced and diverse lunch kit. Even incorporating leftovers adds variety efficiently. For example, use dinner taco ingredients for a nacho-themed lunchbox.

Remember, leak-proof containers and insulated bags with ice packs are essential for maintaining the safety of food in DIY lunch kits until they’re consumed.

Finger Food Favorites

Finger foods - the epitome of enjoyable food! Kids love anything they can pick up and eat with their hands. So, why not use that to our advantage? Options like oven-roasted falafel, sweet chicken bacon wraps, and RITZ crackers party sandwiches provide a variety of finger foods that can easily be packed into kids’ lunch boxes.

Bento box lunches allow for a creative assembly of finger food options catering to children’s diverse taste preferences. Healthy finger food options like cucumbers with dip and hearty boiled eggs contribute essential nutrients such as vitamins, calcium, and iron to a child’s diet. And for an extra touch of fun, introducing various shapes and characters using shape cutters for sandwiches or fruits adds a playful touch to kids’ finger food, making mealtime both engaging and enjoyable.

Allergy-Friendly Lunches

Preparing lunch for kids can be challenging due to allergies. But that doesn’t mean kids with allergies have to miss out on tasty and nutritious meals. Avocado chicken salad with gluten-free crackers, grilled chicken with BBQ sauce and dried apricots, or nachos with bean and dairy-free cheese are all allergy-friendly main courses that ensure a nutritious meal without common allergens.

Even traditional lunch items can be reimagined. Kids with allergies can still enjoy favorites like bagel pizzas made with gluten-free bagels and dairy-free cheese, paired with carrot sticks and dairy-free ranch dressing. Or try dairy-free cream cheese and jam pancake sandwiches using gluten-free pancakes for a sweet yet allergy-conscious treat.

Thermos-Ready Hot Lunches

A hot meal is the perfect remedy to a cold day. Thermos-ready lunches such as soups, stews, and casseroles provide children with warm, nutritious options that are perfect for cold days or when a hot meal is preferred.

Butternut squash and apple soup, spicy red lentil chili, and kale soup with pasta are all rich in nutrients and flavors, making them excellent healthy lunch ideas that can be kept warm in a thermos. Or try layered tacos and chicken nuggets for a comforting hot lunch option that’s not only tasty but also enjoyable for children to eat at school.

Sweet and Savory Snack Pairings

Snack time holds high importance in a child’s daily routine. But rather than opting for the usual chips or cookies, why not jazz up their snack time with some sweet and savory pairings? Homemade granola bars paired with a milk beverage provide a balanced afternoon snack, combining carbohydrates for energy with protein and calcium.

Or try cream cheese and jam on whole-grain crackers for a simple, sweet, and savory snack with the added benefit of whole grains and dairy. Even cherry tomatoes with part-skim string cheese can mimic pizza flavors in a healthy way, introducing vegetables and calcium-rich dairy into snack time.

Tips for Packing Eco-Friendly Lunches

While considering nourishment for our children, we must also care for our planet’s health. Packing eco-friendly lunches is one way to do just that. Using high-quality, long-lasting reusable lunch containers can reduce landfill waste while keeping food fresh, allowing our children to enjoy their own lunches in a sustainable manner.

Opting for sustainable alternatives to single-use plastic, like reusing mason jars or bringing metal cutlery from home, can minimize plastic waste. Composting food scraps instead of sending them to landfills reduces methane emissions. Even purchasing local and seasonal fruits and vegetables reduces the carbon emissions associated with food transportation. These steps not only help the environment but can also save money in the long run.

Encouraging Kids to Help with Lunch Prep

Engaging kids in lunch preparation serves as an excellent educational opportunity. It not only teaches them valuable skills but can also foster their interest in healthy eating. Inviting children to participate in meal planning by asking about their food preferences and introducing new foods they’re curious about can enhance their eagerness to eat and enjoy meals.

Engaging children in the kitchen can have many benefits, including:

  • Teaching them reading and organizational skills through creating shopping lists

  • Introducing math concepts such as counting and comparing prices

  • Motivating them to continue contributing through positive reinforcement

  • Promoting responsibility and accountability by assigning cleanup tasks

Creative Lunchbox Themes

Looking for ways to infuse excitement into mealtimes? Consider experimenting with creative lunchbox themes for school lunches. Color-coded meals, alphabet-inspired lunches, or holiday-themed menus can make mealtime fun and enjoyable.

Bento-style lunch boxes are perfect for constructing visually appealing and themed lunches. Imagine rainbow fruit skewers that teach about colors or holiday-themed menus that celebrate special occasions. Incorporating various shapes and colors into lunches not only enhances their visual appeal but also fits within different creative themes, contributing to a balanced and enjoyable meal.

Nutrient-Dense Dips and Spreads

Often overlooked, dips and spreads are the secret stars of a lunchbox. They can add flavor, texture, and most importantly, nutrition to any meal. Greek yogurt-based dips are rich in protein, while avocado spread provides heart-healthy monounsaturated fatty acids, vitamins C and E. Almond butter is another nutritious option to consider.

Alternatively, cottage cheese dips, white bean and lentil-based dips, and cottage cheese hummus are high in protein and essential nutrients, making them a satisfying addition to lunch. Even green pea spread is a nutrient-dense option rich in potassium, calcium, and magnesium, which are essential for regulating blood pressure and may reduce heart disease risks.


In conclusion, packing creative, healthy lunches for kids doesn’t have to be a daunting task. With a little planning, a dash of creativity, and a focus on balanced nutrition, you can put together lunches that are not only nutritious and eco-friendly but also fun and engaging for your little ones. So, here’s to making lunchtime a colorful, flavorful, and joyful part of your child’s day!

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some easy lunch ideas for kids?

Here are some easy lunch ideas for kids: pasta salad, homemade Lunchables, chicken and guacamole, nut or seed butter cracker sandwiches, deconstructed tacos, chicken salad, ham and cheese roll-up, and leftover pasta. Try these out and see which ones your kids enjoy!

What foods should be included for lunch for children?

Include fresh or tinned fruits and fresh crunchy vegetable sticks with dip, cherry tomatoes, carrot sticks, capsicum, and cucumber for a healthier school lunch.

What are some protein-packed lunch ideas for my kids?

Hey there! For a protein-packed lunch, you can try turkey and cheese roll-ups, or Greek-inspired meal prep bowls with falafel. Enjoy!

Can children with allergies still enjoy a variety of lunches?

Yes, children with allergies can still enjoy a variety of lunches by opting for allergy-friendly options such as avocado chicken salad, grilled chicken with BBQ sauce, or nachos with bean and dairy-free cheese. Give these options a try and see which ones your child enjoys!

What are some eco-friendly tips for packing lunches?

To pack eco-friendly lunches, use reusable containers, choose sustainable alternatives to plastic, compost food scraps, and buy local, seasonal produce. It's an easy way to reduce waste and help the environment.


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