Healthier Lunchbox Ideas

Thursday, September 20, 2012

After dealing with my son's major health issues this past year, I have been adamantly searching for ways  to give him (and my other kids) every chance possible for them to stay as healthy as possible.  Part of that meant making more food from scratch, avoiding food dyes and preservatives whenever possible, and making sure that we always ate whole grain bread products.  Although we'd already been doing a lot of that in previous years, this year I wanted to step it up a notch and also wanted to ensure that their lunches contained a lot more variety than in year's past.    I knew that it was going to take more effort and planning on my part, but it was something that I knew I needed to do for my own peace of mind. 

My major resource in this effort was 100 Days of Real Food, which not only provided me with the encouragement to make the changes, but also provided many of the ideas, which is where I always struggle.  I found that for items that I could not make from scratch or simply don't have the time to make from scratch that I could almost always find healthier options, especially at stores like Trader Joes (my favorite) and Whole Foods.

I used these divided Ziploc containers which fit perfectly into their Land's End lunchboxes, but can also be squeezed tightly into a normal brown paper lunchbag.  We also decided not to use plastic utensils anymore, so we got this inexpensive silverware set for their lunches. It's nice enough to use over and over, but cheap enough that if they lose a piece that it's not the end of the world.   

Stay tuned for more ideas on how to make simple changes to improve your family's diet! 

Here's a glimpse at some of our lunches this year: 
Homemade pizza lunchable.  Whole grain mini pizza crust was below the baggies of cheese and pepperoni.  Sauce was packaged in a small container on the side.  Also included was apple slices and homemade fruit leather. 
 Hummus, cheese, and lettuce tucked inside whole wheat pita bread, along with a hard-boiled egg, orange slices, and light kettle corn.

 Leftover homemade Thai chicken pasta, homemade fruit roll-up, cupcake from the freezer, grapes. I included an ice pack with their lunch this day. 

 Turkey lunchmeat (organic and without any nitrates), cream cheese, and lettuce rolled into a whole wheat tortilla, bag of fresh strawberries, whole grain muffin from the freezer, and sunflower seeds mixed with brown rice krispies.

 Makeover chicken crescents (pulled straight out of the freezer), homemade fruit leather, baked potato chips, grapes and kiwi. 

 Whole grain crackers, baggies of sliced Swiss cheese and organic turkey lunchmeat, orange slices, and homemade fruit leather

 Whole grain cheddar cheese pancakes with cream cheese and peach preserves, baked potato chips, carrot sticks, and sunflower butter* for dipping. 

Hummus, cheese, and lettuce pita sandwich with a bag of grapes, celery sticks with sunflower butter* and dried craisins (ants on a log), and whole grain cookie. 

 Sunflower butter and jelly sandwich on homemade whole wheat bread, baked tortilla chips, a fresh peach, and a hard boiled egg. 

Whole grain corndog muffins (halved hotdogs cooked in your favorite cornbread recipe), carrot/celery sticks, hummus for dipping, and yogurt without artificial flavors or colors (from Trader Joes). 

Refried beans, cheese, and lettuce wrapped in a whole wheat tortilla, ranch dressing for dipping, fresh raspberries and grapes,  and baked chips. 


Chicken pasta salad, popcorn, strawberries, and sugarfree applesauce

Graham crackers and peanut butter sandwiches, homemade fruit leather roll-up, hard-boiled egg, apple slices (dipped in orange juice to keep from browning).

Homemade oatmeal dinner rolls and cheese, grapes, pretzel bites, and homemade fruit leather.

*Just a note:  My kids do not have any food allergies, but because one of my kids likes to sit at the peanut-free lunch table with a friend, we have been using sunflower butter in place of peanut butter this year.  We serve nuts and peanut butter to them at home. 

Another note: 
My kids range in age from 7-17 and the amount you see here is meant for my older elementary school aged kids (4th and 6th grades).  My younger daughter gets slightly less and my high school aged kids get a little more. 



Bonny,  September 20, 2012 at 4:06 PM  

So great, Lara! We switched to "real food" about a year and a half ago because of some health challenges here and it has been SUCH a blessing in our home. More work, for sure, but the benefits are so worth it! The Weston Price Foundation is a fabulous resource, and there are lots of great real food bloggers out there that follow their guidelines and have tons of great recipes. Here are their dietary recommendations (all read food), if you haven't come across this already: You can click on the link on that page for the pdf booklet. It's a great resource. "Nourishing Traditions" by Sally Fallon and Dr. Mary Enig is a WONDERFUL resource with lots of great info at the beginning, and then tons of recipes.

Margarita,  September 20, 2012 at 11:25 PM  

Great ideas, thanks!

Katie September 20, 2012 at 11:58 PM  

Wow, A+! So many great ideas here!

SnoWhite September 21, 2012 at 9:01 PM  

Great ideas, Lara!!! These are very yummy looking.

Kim September 22, 2012 at 1:57 PM  

I know exactly what you mean about needing peace of mind. I'm trying to do the same thing you are with school lunches and it is time consuming, but so worth it. For the moment I only have to pack lunch for one (my son is only in half day Kindergarten). I commend you for taking on the big task of packing all those lunches!

You have some great ideas here.

teresa September 25, 2012 at 8:09 PM  

i SOO needed this. now that i strictly only send lunch from home, i'm often lost knowing how to keep it interesting. i'll be referring to this a lot!

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About This Blog

My name is Lara and while I'm definitely not a gourmet cook, I do love preparing tasty, healthy meals for my family. Finding new recipes to try and sharing the ones we've already fallen in love with is a passion I've had since college and the reason why I've started this blog! With five kids, I'm usually in a hurry, so you'll find most of these recipes kid friendly and simple to make.

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