12 Healthy (And Yummy) Pre-Packed School Lunch Ideas For Kids

Photo: baibaz / Shutterstock
healthy meals for kids lunch

School is back in session, which means packing your kid’s lunch is once again part of your daily regime. That seems simple enough, but what you pack your kid for lunch is important. Your child needs certain essential nutrients to be the best they can be, including a solid serving of vitamins, carbs and protein. 

But you don’t just want to send your kid off with a bag of chips! With a healthy, nutritional meal your child will be prepared to tackle the rest of the day.

According to Health Coach Lisa Newman, “While making good nutritional choices are key, it’s also important to consider health beyond the lunchbox, such as the importance of your child eating enough, enjoying the options provided, and not putting food into categories of good and bad.”

Yumble is here to help by providing a wholesome, kid-friendly food delivery service with their newest nutritional meals that come fully cooked and ready to eat. So, worry no more with a little help from Yumble to make feeding your kids healthy options stress-free and super easy. 

Below, a quick guide of tips and tricks you can use to help your child eat better. 

12 Healthy Lunch Ideas and Recipes for Kids

1. Hide their veggies!

Getting your kids to eat their vegetables can be hard, but it won't be hard when they don't even know they are eating them! Check out Yumble's Chicken N' Cheddar Sandwich Meal, which has special veggies hidden on the sprouted grain bun. Pack your child this meal with dried apple rings and they won't even notice they are eating healthy. 

Your child will be getting vitamins, fiber and nutrients all wrapped up within one healthy meal, all the essential components for growing and developing kids. 

RELATED: 9 Expert Tips For Making Quick, Healthy Meals In Minutes

2. Pack a lean protein lunch.

When it comes to getting your child to eat protein (and not just any protein but lean protein), be sure to pack it in the first place. Lean protein, besides doing the obvious essentials of building and maintaining muscle and tissues in your child's body, actually helps maintain many bodily processes. This certain type of protein even promotes satiety, meaning your child will feel full after they are done eating.

A solid recipe to use for a lean protein lunch you can pack for your child is chicken meatballs. They combine a great balance of carbs and protein that can help with your child's energy levels during the day, and increase the quality of their sleep at night.

3. Model the behavior you want.

For many parents, it's hard to get children to eat certain items-especially vegetables. "Parents need to love veggies and to cook and get creative to make children eat vegetables," says Expert Keya Murthy.

If the child sees you doing it, they are most likely to reciprocate that and imitate you. "Children model what they see. If you are a parent who eats vegetables, you are more likely to have children who eat them too," says Registered Dietitian Janis Roszler.

That's why if you want your child to eat something, you should probably eat it first. Here's your excuse to try out Yumble's Presto! Pesto Chicken Sandwich Meal. It's a protein-packed chicken sandwich with mozzarella and parmesan cheese, a hint of basil, and a selection of great veggies, served with veggie chips and apricots. This meal is one Yumble promises your kids will not be able to resist (and likely you as well).

4. Set a clear goal.

Children should always be working towards a goal. If your child becomes a picky eater, try setting a goal for them to help them work through it. When you introduce a new vegetable, ask your child to eat the number of pieces that match their age," Roszler suggests. "Many children like to try something new when it is presented in this fun way." 

You can implement this technique with a nutritional meal of homemade fish fingers and minty smashed peas. Make this simple recipe that can feed four comfortably and has only 388 calories. It cooks in 30 minutes. 

5. Get creative. 

Getting your picky eater to chow down on some healthy food can be difficult, but experts encourage parents to get creative with their tactics.

Some parents have ended up with their children in the kitchen with them as they prepare their meals. Try to show them how you prepare their food. Walk them through a recipe you intend on packing for them and they may be more inclined to put it in their bodies. If that doesn’t work, change tactics.

If you're looking to add a healthy twist to a traditional recipe (that's already prepared and ready to go), give Yumble’s healthy spin on the inevitable crowd-pleaser, the BBQ sandwich, a whirl. With Yumble's BBQ sandwich and Superfood Lunch Meal, your child gets a decent dosage of all the nutrients they need from hidden vegetables (it’s in the sauce!), coupled with lean protein and yummy superfood snacks. 

This meal will tingle your child’s taste buds so much, you may not even have to fess up about the secret healthy ingredients. 

6. Add spinach.

Spinach is a great vegetable to put in any dish. Not only does spinach contain nutritional vitamins like Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and Vitamin K, but it is full of iron and potassium.

Adding spinach is a sneaky way to get your child to obtain those nutrients because when it is chopped up and cooked, spinach shrinks exponentially and its taste is subtle. You can easily add this into any recipe where you wish to boost the nutritional value. For example, you can sneak in spinach to chicken fried rice, pasta, lasagna and more. 

7. Don't give up.

If your child doesn’t eat a certain food, don’t force them. However, you shouldn’t just give up. Keep trying in different ways or at different times.

Lisa Newman, a health coach specializing in eating behavior and body acceptance, says, “children often need to be exposed to a new food multiple times in order to feel comfortable, and they go through stages rapidly.”

So never give up getting your child to eat healthily. You can try giving your child the Tutti-Fruity Turkey Lunch Meal from Yumble that provides beneficial nutrients in creative and tasty ways.

RELATED: How To Train Your Taste Buds To Love Healthy Foods

8. Top it with cheese.

Who doesn't love some cheesy goodness, especially kids? "Once topped with cheese, most kids will eat most stuff,” says Murthy. “Prepare the veggies before adding them to your kid's favorite dish.” 

She continues, “If you want your child to just eat the veggies, top the veggies with 2 times the cheese and your child will love it.”

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Join now for YourTango's trending articles, top expert advice and personal horoscopes delivered straight to your inbox each morning.

9. Link eating healthy to pop culture references.

This tip or trick is a great hidden gem for parents to use. For example, try linking eating healthy to being a superhero. You see eating right with proper nutrients like proteins, vitamins, fiber, and carbs helps children gain strength and energy. 

Correlate this to being super fast or super strong and it may just trick your children into eating a vegetable or two. The A-Z Grilled Turkey Lunch is a great meal to send them off to school with that contains just the right amount of proteins, fruits, and veggies to make them a superhero.

10. Make energy balls together.

You can make a super easy snack by mixing peanut butter with oats and forming it into balls. You can add anything to it, like honey, nuts, dates, even chocolate chips can be used to sweeten the deal with your children. 

Newman says, “Energy balls are an easy-to-make treat with protein and fiber making them both nutritionally sound and delicious. Your children can even help you or make them alone since no cooking is involved.”

11. Keep it simple.

Simplicity can be a great starting point when trying to get your children to eat healthily. The problem with simplicity is that it often isn't filling enough. 

However, with Yumble's Pepperoni and Provolone Bagel Lunch your child will feel full hours after eating it.

The meal includes a sesame bagel filled with pepperoni and provolone cheese accompanied by a tortellini salad. The meal provides a well-balanced meal of carbs, veggies, and protein.

12. Offer healthy options when they're hungry.

Is your child fussing over eating their veggies? Offer them the meals when they are hungry. If a child isn’t hungry, they likely won’t eat something they know is good for them, but if they are hungry the chances are they'll be more open to trying something new. 

Newman learned this tip from her own experience. “I found that offering my child a food I wanted him to like went way better if he was hungry. For instance, he wouldn’t touch eggs, and then on a camping trip when that was the first thing he was offered they suddenly became delicious.”

-Created in partnership with Yumble

RELATED: 7 Easy Ways To Make Healthy Food Substitutions When Dining Out

Deauna Nunes is a writer and assistant editor who covers lifestyle, food, and pop culture topics. She's been published by Emerson College's literary magazine Generic. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.