Lunch ideas so easy your kids can make them — and they should

Aug 24, 2016 at 10:24 a.m. ET
Image: Aparna Balasubramanian/Getty Images

You know what's super annoying? You send your kids off to school with a lunchbox full of food, and they return home with it still full of food. I say, make them pack their own dang lunch! Let me put that a more gentle way: The best way to get your kids to eat their lunches is to get them involved with the prep and packing. That way they're picking things they enjoy, so you know their lunchboxes will come home empty — or at least more likely to come home empty, anyway.

More: Pack a better lunch for your kids

lunch ideas kids can make
Image: Gabriela Arellano/SheKnows

No-bake coconut and date balls

These no-bake coconut-date balls are super easy to make, and they require only two ingredients. Give your kids a bowl of chopped dates mixed with coconut flakes, and have them roll tablespoon-size truffles themselves.

Ham and cheese crackers

Grab your kids' favorite cheese, low-sodium ham and whole-grain crackers like Triscuits, and let your kids make their own sandwich crackers. They’ll be so excited to make own lunch that they may not even realize how healthy their cracker sandwiches are.

Fruit kebabs

In the morning, put a bunch of washed and cut fruit out on the table, and let your kids make their own fruit kebabs (using rounded sticks, not pointed). You can even throw in chunks of cheddar cheese. It's a great way for them to pick fruit they enjoy eating, and it also makes it a little more fun to eat when their fruit is on kebabs.

More: Cool lunchbox ideas

Veggie kebabs

You can do the same thing with veggies! Set out cut and washed veggies, and let your kid pick their favorite ones and put them on skewers. They can even bring salad dressing in a small container with them to school, or it could be the perfect after-school snack.

Ants on a log

Ants on a log is typically celery sticks filled with peanut butter and raisins, but you can make it whatever you want. If your kids are allergic to peanut butter or you want to try something a little different, you can have your kids make ants on a log with ranch dressing, cream cheese or coconut butter. They’ll have fun making them, and you’ll know they're having a healthy snack.

Toast with butter and cinnamon sugar

Making toast is a great way to introduce kids to “cooking.” They’ll learn to not touch hot foods with their bare hands, among other things. They can then add butter with a spoon as well as some cinnamon sugar, and slice into triangles or squares with the safe butter knife.

Pita pocket pizza

Pita pocket pizzas are a great way for your kids to start experimenting with flavors and things they like. Set out low-fat cheese, chopped veggies and microwavable meats. Let them stuff their pita pockets with whatever they like, microwave them for one minute, then allow them to cool before packing.

Graham cracker snacks

Every once in a while, your kids deserve a sweet treat. You can set out graham crackers, frosting and sprinkles or marshmallow fluff and melted chocolate, and allow them to make their own creation (they may even mix and match flavors). It’s all up to them.

Yogurt with fruit and whole-grain cereal

Gather your kids' favorite yogurt, fruit and some whole-grain cereal, like granola. Let your kids make a parfait with their favorite combo in a wide-mouth thermos or bottle. Don't forget to pack the spoon!

More: Back-to-school lunch recipes and ideas