School lunches get a notoriously bad rap. They are photographed, posted to social media, envied, and ridiculed. Homemade packed lunches do not escape this treatment, with Instagram photos of incredible bento boxes made by star parents, cookie cutter crust-less sandwiches, and other mouthwatering delights made by parents for their children’s school lunch.
If you are struggling for ideas and need some inspiration, do not fret. There are countless recipes to fall back on. Rather than relying on packaged, processed, highly refined foods (the kind that children tend to love), work a few of these easy and tasty meals into your weekly repertoire and know that you are sending your children to school with a lunch that will fuel them through their day.
Meatballs are delicious whether they are hot or cold. This recipe comes together in a flash, so you can effortlessly send your child to school with a nutritious packed lunch. Meatballs are a great place to hide vegetables from the wary and suspicious eyes of a child. Simple throw a few of your favorites into the food processor and add the resulting mash to the meatballs before you shape them for a sneaky meatball that’s loaded with healthy vegetables.
Who doesn’t crave something sweet after lunch? For a sweet treat you won’t feel guilty for packing, try these apple wedges. Peanut butter and apples go fabulously together, and who could possibly complain about a drizzle of chocolate on top!?
Like apple wedges, banana “sushi” is a great, healthy dessert to pack in any lunch. The Nutella in this recipe can be substituted with any other favorite spread — try peanut butter and jelly for a new twist on a childhood classic.
Send your child to school with former President Obama’s favorite’s tuna salad sandwich. If it powered Obama through two terms, surely it can power your kid through their afternoon math test
Create these versatile flatbreads in 15 minutes for an easy, delicious, and satiating school lunch.
Let your child cherish the taste of s’mores without sending them into a sugar coma with these caramel apple treats.
For a breakfast on the go or a satisfying afternoon snack, these muffins, full of healthy chia seeds, are the brain food your children need.
Sweet things don’t have to be terrible for the body. These breakfast bars, chock full of naturally sweet dried fruit, are delicious — and vegan to boot.
These bars are full of wonderfully fueling ingredients. Make a batch of these on the weekend and send you kid to school with a lunchbox full of energy.
A thermos full of tomato soup is just perfect for lunch on a chilly day. Pack a small cheese sandwich alongside this soup for a joyful dipping experience.
For a healthy snack that is much more interesting than potato chips, make this fresh trail mix. A blend of fresh fruit, nuts, and chocolate will satisfy any kind of sweet craving that might strike after lunch.
These classic peanut butter and jelly sandwiches have a sneaky but healthy secret. Add a few sprinklings of chia seeds into the sandwich for a healthy lunchtime brain boosting addition.
To feed a crowd, make this giant stuffed sandwich and serve everyone a slice, perfect if you are making packed lunches for the whole family.
This sandwich incorporates colorful vegetables, light protein, and condiments of your choice. Make it ahead of time for the optimum pressed panini-like texture.
Hide vegetables in these child-approved mac and cheese cupcakes. All the fun flavor of a favorite comfort food with all the ease of a hand-held snack.
A quesadilla is always a popular lunchbox inclusion. This one pairs mango with milky provolone cheese to please your child’s taste buds no end.
Small pizzas for small hands. These mini pizzas will go down well and can be topped with favorite toppings for an effortless lunchbox item that takes little time to prepare.
For a fun take on a traditional PB&J, make these spiral roll-ups that kids will love.
Kids will love this cool and creamy noodle salad. Fill it with their favorite veggies and watch this recipe become a lunchbox staple.
Make these little sweet bites as an occasional sweet treat. They are so simple to make that you can even make them with your child on the weekend — get them involved in the process and excited about cooking!
Pesto is a wonderful way to inject flavor and green goodness into a pasta salad. You can easily sub in your household’s most loved veggies for this colorful and wholesome lunch time dish.
Pasta salads are sustaining and delicious, a perfect way to fuel an afternoon of classes.
Not everyone loves trail mix, but if you hide it in cookies, your kids will benefit from the healthy fats, vitamins and antioxidants of dried fruits and nuts without even realizing it.
These turkey pinwheels are made of just four healthy ingredients and can be made in advance for a tasty component in a well-balanced lunch box.
Wholesome bananas and antioxidant-packed blueberries along with whole-wheat flour and a minimal amount of brown sugar make these muffins a great sweet cake to include in a healthy packed lunch.