School Lunch Ideas Kids Will Actually Eat

Pack great meals that nobody will want to trade

Shutterstock / joannawnuk

The secret of a great school lunch? Balance healthy options with special treats thrown into the mix.

You want your little one to be excited to rip through that brown paper bag or flip open that lunchbox to see what special treat you carefully prepared just for him or her. Packing a school lunch properly requires some foresight. You need to consider what will keep unrefrigerated, what is easy to heat in a microwave (if available), what is nutritious, and, of course, what is delicious.

Click here for 11 lunchbox ideas kids will eat (slideshow).

What you don’t want is your kid looking for the nearest person to trade her unappetizing meal to, or for him to be ostracized to a faraway table because of that smelly tuna fish sandwich. Choose foods your kid will actually eat — a plate of vegetables probably won’t go over that well, unfortunately. You won’t trick your kid into eating healthy foods that way. Instead, she’s likely to ditch lunch, barter for unhealthy snacks, and find the pains of hunger make it hard to concentrate in math class.

Instead, balance healthy options with special treats thrown into the mix. Pack nutrient-rich granola with dark chocolate, add hearty greens to mac and cheese, include radishes in a cream cheese sandwich, or pack fiber-rich muffins that double as dessert.

Your kids will thank you for considering their wants and helping them become the envy of the cafeteria with these kid-approved meals.

BBQ Chicken Mac and Cheese

Shutterstock / Joshua Resnick

The protein in this mac and cheese will keep your kid full throughout the day. You can also make this recipe gluten-free with quinoa pasta.

Click here for the BBQ Chicken Mac and Cheese recipe. 

Brainy Brownies

Shutterstock / Letterberry

These chocolatey brownie delights have a dark secret. Hiding inside those batter beauties are blueberries, spinach, and oat bran.

Click here for the Brainy Brownies recipe.


Angela Carlos in The Daily Meal Cook Editor. Find her on twitter, and tweet @angelaccarlos.