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A box of True Lemon Kids Wild Watermelon is on top of an assortment of school supplies such as a pencil pouch and notebooks.

School Lunch Tips: Lunch Box Ideas For Kids

Fall means a drop in temperatures, a change in colors, and fun activities. And it’s all wrapped up in the back-to-school season!

If you’re like most, super busy and always on-the-go, packing school lunches may present a struggle. It can create an unnecessary battle between picky eaters and convenience seeking parents. It can be challenging to come up with fresh ideas and fun variety to keep the kids happy and satisfied! After all, no parent wants to open up that lunchbox after school and see their child took only a few bites of all their hard work and preparation.

That’s why we’re here with a little inspiration! From toddlers to teens, we’ve got some healthy, tasty, and kid-approved ideas for meals. Plus a few tips to get you started. Use these ideas for an easy school lunch, at home meals, or anytime you need a dose of balanced and nutritious!

An image of a children's lunchbox on stairs. There is a children's water bottle and a children's lunch pack. Next to this is a box of True Lemon Kids Pink Lemonade.

Tip 1: Don’t overthink it.

Meal planning doesn’t need to be complex. Keep it simple, easy, and delicious. Getting a good balance of nutrients is what will keep your child’s energy going all day long. (Not that they need more help with that!) This makes it so easy to make sure they get a good variety of foods for healthy lunch. Pick one item from each category below to round out the lunch:

  1. Protein
  2. Whole Grain or Starchy Veggie
  3. Vegetables and/or Fruit
  4. Fun or Tasty Treat

An image of a children's packed lunch that includes grapes, popcorn, a sandwich, and a packet of True Lemon Kids Pink Lemonade.

Tip 2: Make a list of foods.

Jot down a list of foods for each category. This will give you a starting point for grabbing items to pack your kid’s lunch box. As you get into a good routine, you’ll find it gets easier to mix and match. But the list is also a great backup tool for when you get overwhelmed and need a quick starter list for ideas. Start with the foods you know your kids will eat and add items over time. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Proteins: shredded chicken, tuna salad, boiled eggs, deli meat, pepperoni, bacon, meatballs, nut butter, yogurt, beans, cheese, cottage cheese
  • Whole Grains/Starchy Veggies: multigrain crackers, whole grain bread, bagels or tortillas, sweet potatoes, quinoa, brown rice, granola, pretzels, oatmeal
  • Vegetables: bell peppers, broccoli, butternut squash, carrots, cauliflower, celery, corn, cucumber, tomatoes, peas, zucchini, edamame
  • Fruit: apples, bananas, grapes, watermelon, mango, grapefruit, kiwi, honeydew melon, oranges, clementines, pears, pineapple, berries, peaches, plums
  • Fun/Sweet Treats: trail mix, homemade energy balls, yogurt pretzels, chocolate covered raisins, graham crackers, mini muffins, fruit leather, applesauce

An image of a young boy sitting in front of a kitchen counter holding a box of True Lemon Kids Crisp Apple. On the counter is a glass of True Lemon Kids Crisp Apple as well as a bowl of strawberries and lemons.

Tip 3: Get the kids involved!

  • Get help from your little ones and plan a day to prep lunches together. There are so many great reasons to get them invested in what they eat! It gives them an opportunity to make their own choices. And if you have picky eaters, this may even help them start trying new things.
  • The more the kids help, the more they will learn about nutrition and how to create a balanced meal that makes them feel good. Plus, it’s just fun! This is a great chance to bond with your kids and check a box of the task list at the same time.
  • Making homemade snacks and sweets is another great way to make sure the meal stays within the guidelines you want to set for nutrition. Making your own sweet treats helps ensure you control the ingredients and shy away from too much added sugar and unnecessary fillers. (Remember, a little goes a long way!)

10 Lunch Box Ideas

After you make your list and start prepping, it’s time to put it all together. Here are some sample pairings to get you started on your packed lunches! But you can mix and match anything that makes sense for you – the combinations are endless here!

  1. Option 1: Hard boiled eggs, cheese, popcorn, carrot sticks, grapes
  2. Option 2: Shredded chicken quesadilla on whole grain tortilla, bell pepper slices, clementine, cookie
  3. Option 3: Turkey sandwich with avocado spread, celery, apple slices, chocolate covered raisins
  4. Option 4: Pepperoni and cheese slices on multigrain crackers, mozzarella and tomatoes, trail mix
  5. Option 5: Tuna salad, pretzel sticks, cheese cubes, pineapple,
  6. Option 6: Scrambled eggs, spinach, berries, homemade muffin
  7. Option 7: Ham wraps, sweet potatoes, watermelon, sliced cucumbers
  8. Option 8: Chicken salad on whole grain bread, cucumber, peaches
  9. Option 9: Whole grain bagel with peanut butter, yogurt parfait, granola
  10. Option 10: Rice and beans, chips and salsa, yogurt pretzels

An image of four boxes of different True Lemon Kids on a patch of grass and a picnic blanket. There are assorted toys around the boxes of True Lemon Kids.

Once you’ve got the meals planned, all you need to throw in is a little tasty hydration! A reusable water bottle and a True Citrus kids drink mix gives them the delicious boost they need for staying refreshed and energized, with no artificial sweeteners. (Plus, each packet has a bit of their daily dose of vitamins A, C and E to boot!)

Things to Remember For School Lunches

These tips give you a way to get started. But you can customize your school lunches any way you need. Mixing it up gives you an easy way to substitute items and modify for food allergies without too much complexity or special containers. And remember – don’t overthink it! An easy lunch packing method is to utilize leftovers from dinner to start your lunches for the next day. Is it taco night at home? Throw some taco meat in your child’s lunch box with cheese, chips, salsa and a few mango slices and you’re all set! There’s no need to make multiple meals every single day. Make it even easier by taking some time each week to plan and prepare. (This is super easy to add in if you’re already meal planning for meals at home!) Jot down some ideas for lunches, make your grocery list and plan a time to prep. This could mean batch cooking meats, chopping veggies, pre-bagging fruit or portioning out snacks. Then, when it comes time to pack lunches, you just grab and go! Looking for more recipe inspiration? Check out more back-to-school tips here and our recipe page for all the great ideas!

This blog brought to you by True Lemon Kids
True Lemon Kids Crisp Apple Featured Image
This blog brought to you by True Lemon Kids
  • NO Artificial Sweeteners
  • 92% Less Sugar Than Juice and Soda for an 8oz Serving
  • Simple, Non-GMO Ingredients
  • 25% of Daily Vitamins A, C & E
  • 10 Calories Per Packet
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