4 Lunchbox ideas that are perfect for easy kid-friendly meals

Apr 13, 2015 at 8:00 a.m. ET

Do you find yourself struggling to get your little one to eat a good lunch? These lunchbox ideas are sure to get even the pickiest eaters to eat a wholesome midday meal.

If you're a mom, I am sure you will agree that getting your kids to eat a healthy lunch is important. I have packed my boys' lunches for as long as I can remember, and not for one day do I regret it. While I have nothing against the occasional school lunch, I honestly prefer to make it and send it from home.

lunchbox ideas for kids

Buying your own ingredients and making your lunches at home keeps you in control of what goes into those little tummies and should give you the peace of mind as to what they are consuming. These four lunchbox ideas are a few I make on a regular basis. The fun colors and containers really attract kids and give them the desire to eat what you make for them. Follow these recipes, or use them as bases, allowing you to get creative with what you have on hand.

1. The vegetarian lunchbox

This box is full of vegetarian-friendly options complete with a homemade vanilla sea salt almond butter and jelly pita sandwich. (Assemble your lunchbox the night before, and store it in the refrigerator for the next school day.)

Homemade vanilla sea salt almond butter recipe

Creamy, slightly sweet and with a hint of vanilla, this homemade almond butter rivals the store-bought versions any day.

Yields 12 servings

Total time: 10 minutes


  • 2 cups roasted almonds
  • 2 tablespoons raw organic coconut oil
  • 4-6 tablespoons maple syrup (depending on desired sweetness)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt


  1. To a food processor, add the almonds, and pulse until they start to become creamy.
  2. Using a spatula, scrape the sides of the bowl, and add the oil, maple syrup, vanilla and sea salt.
  3. Continue to pulse until you have reached your desired consistency.
  4. Store the almond butter in a jar with a lid in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Almond butter and jelly pita sandwich recipe

Serves 1

Total time: 5 minutes


  • 1 pita bread, cut in half and sliced open
  • Strawberry preserves
  • Homemade vanilla sea salt almond butter
  • 1 banana, sliced


  1. Fill each half with strawberry preserves, homemade vanilla sea salt almond butter and bananas.

To assemble this meal, add the following to a clean lunchbox:

  • Almond butter and jelly pita sandwich
  • Cucumber slices with tzatziki dip or hummus
  • Pretzels
  • Organic grapes
  • 1 packet vegan-friendly fruit snacks (such as Annie's Organic fruit snacks)
  • Chocolate plant-based milk box

2. The Mexican lunchbox

Turn your little one's lunch into a fiesta with this easy, Mexican-inspired lunchbox. A healthy mashed bean salad burrito is served with guacamole, whole-wheat tortilla chips, fresh red pepper sticks, apples and an organic grape juice drink. (Assemble your lunchboxes the night before, and store in the refrigerator for the next school day.)

Homemade bean salad burritos recipe

Full of protein and fresh ingredients, this healthy bean salad burrito is perfect for little hands and for making ahead of time.

Yields 2

Total time: 15 minutes


  • 1/4 cup pinto beans, mashed
  • 1 teaspoon taco seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons diced tomato
  • 1 tablespoon diced sweet onion
  • 2 tablespoons salsa
  • 2 tablespoons grated pepper jack cheese
  • 1 tablespoon plain Greek yogurt
  • Romaine lettuce
  • 2 whole-grain tortillas


  1. To a bowl, add the mashed pinto beans, taco seasoning, tomatoes, onions and salsa, and mix well.
  2. Spoon the filling into the center of the tortilla, and add the shredded cheese, Greek yogurt and romaine.
  3. Roll up the tortilla as tightly as possible, folding in the sides to keep the filling from spilling out.
  4. Wrap the burrito tightly in plastic wrap, and store in the refrigerator until ready to prepare the lunchbox or ready to eat.

To assemble this meal, add the following to a clean lunchbox:

  • 1 homemade bean salad burrito
  • Whole-wheat tortilla chips
  • Fresh guacamole
  • Red pepper sticks
  • Fresh apple slices
  • 1 chocolate cookie
  • Organic grape juice drink

3. The Italian lunchbox

Try swapping out regular pasta with fresh zucchini and summer squash "pasta." This is a healthy way to sneak in veggies without the kids knowing it. Serve them raw or lightly sautéed for this easy, healthier spaghetti lunch.

Homemade veggie spaghetti with turkey marinara sauce recipe

This pasta dish actually has no pasta at all. Fresh vegetables mimic the look of pasta and can be served raw or cooked if desired.

Serves 2

Prep time: 20 minutes | Cook time: 5 minutes| Total time: 25 minutes


  • 1/2 cup extra-lean ground turkey breast
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasonings
  • 1 cup marinara or spaghetti sauce
  • 2 tablespoons fresh grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 large zucchini
  • 1 large yellow summer squash


  1. Heat a nonstick pan over medium heat.
  2. Add the ground turkey, seasonings, tomato sauce and Parmesan cheese. Cook uncovered for 5 minutes or until the turkey is completely cooked, then set it aside.
  3. Using a vegetable peeler or a spiral slicer, make noodles out of the zucchini and squash.
  4. Place the "noodles" and the sauce into separate airtight containers until ready to assemble your lunchbox.

To assemble this meal, add the following to a clean lunchbox:

  • Fresh veggie noodles topped with the turkey marinara and garnished with fresh parsley (in the largest compartment)
  • 1 all-natural fresh baked roll
  • Sliced tomato wedges
  • Diced mozzarella cheese
  • Fresh red bell pepper sticks
  • Balsamic salad dressing for dipping
  • Fresh organic blueberries
  • Organic pink lemonade drink pouch

4. The snack lover's lunchbox

Have a little one that loves snacking? This lunchbox is full of assorted snack-size bites, including organic salami, cheese and turkey mini skewers, fresh fruits, whole-grain crackers, vanilla birthday cake yogurt and a yummy fruit drink.

Easy organic salami, turkey and cheese skewers recipe

Healthy and protein-packed, these bite-size turkey, salami and cheese skewers are perfect for little mouths.

Serves 4

Total time: 10 minutes


  • 1 (7 ounce) package all-natural, organic roasted turkey breast slices (I used Applegate Farms brand)
  • 2 ounces all-natural, organic Genoa salami (I used Applegate Farms brand)
  • 4 thick slices havarti, Swiss or white American cheese
  • Small wooden toothpicks


  1. Divide the turkey and the Genoa salami into 4 equal-size portions.
  2. Cut the lunch meat in half and then in half again, making 4 smaller servings.
  3. Separate the meat and cheese, roll each up tightly, and then skewer them onto the toothpick. Repeat with the remaining ingredients until all your skewers are made.
  4. Place in an airtight container until you are ready to eat or to assemble your lunchbox.

Homemade French onion dip recipe

Creamy Greek yogurt keeps this dip super healthy and low in calories.

Yields 3/4 cup

Total time: 5 minutes


  • 1/2 cup plain 0 percent Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons dried French onion soup mix
  • 1 tablespoon minced sweet onion
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar


  1. To a small bowl, add all the ingredients.
  2. Mix well, and transfer to an airtight container.
  3. Chill for 30 minutes before serving.
  4. Unused dip may be kept in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

To assemble this meal, add the following to a clean lunchbox:

  • A serving of lunch meat skewers
  • Fresh sliced organic strawberries
  • Fresh organic snap peas
  • Cucumber slices
  • Whole-grain crackers
  • Strawberry birthday cake yogurt (mix together Greek yogurt, vanilla stevia and colored sprinkles)
  • Organic fruit punch drink pouch

More fun lunchbox ideas

8 Dippable lunchbox ideas
Wholesome lunchbox snacks
Hip and healthy lunchbox snacks