How To Pack Healthy School Lunches and Snacks Kids Will Eat

Recipes and Food

Here at Help! we figure we’ve made about a million school lunches between all the moms and caretakers on staff. We know it’s hard to think outside the sandwich, especially when you’re trying to pack a lunch that’s healthy in a hurry.

Tips for Packing Healthy Lunches Kids Love

  • Keep a list of your kids’ favourite foods on the wall in the kitchen to remind you what they like, for days you’re feeling rushed or uninspired.
  • Know your age-old food groups and make sure kids get food from each one. Download Canada’s Food Guide cheat sheet here.
  • Think about colour: packing your child’s lunch full of food in an array of colours (ones that occur naturally, that is) often means a nutrient-rich meal
  • Don’t forget the snacks.Kids need something to keep them going through to lunch and after lunch until pick-up time. As we plan snacks, we try to think of them as a mini-meal that includes two of the four food groups.
  • Get kids involved in the planning and packing. (Eventually, you may never have to make another lunch again!)

If you can stay on top of things, easy, delicious, healthy lunches are simple to make. Now for some of our favourite tried-and-true lunch ideas.

Never-Boring, Always-Eaten Lunch and Snack Ideas

Here’s a list of items that have been hits with our kids, including some not-so-ordinary sandwiches and wraps, plus smaller tasty tidbits that can work as snacks or can be combined for a tapas-style lunch for kids who like to graze.

  • whole-grain bread with cream cheese and strawberries
  • falafel sandwich in a whole-grain pita
  • fajita wrap
  • banana slices with pea-butter in a pita or tortilla
  • frittata slices on whole-grain bread
  • fresh-cut fruit or vegetables with a Greek yogurt dip
  • whole-grain pretzels and a cheese stick
  • nut-free trail mix (dried fruit, granola, puffed brown rice)
  • yogurt
  • hard-boiled eggs
  • whole-grain mini muffin
  • cheese and fruit kabobs
  • whole-wheat pita wedges with salsa and refried beans for dipping
  • pieces of cold, cooked beef or chicken with bread or crackers on the side
  • frozen berries mixed into yogurt with cereal to mix in on top
  • bread sticks and cheese sticks
  • veggies with hummus dip
  • French toast with maple syrup on the side
  • chickpea, tomato, and green-pepper salad
  • tofu cubes with barbecue sauce
  • pasta salad

Go-To Weekly Grocery List

Pantry Items
whole-grain breads
ready-to-eat cereals
whole-grain crackers
canned fruit (packed in water)
dried fruit
canned tuna and salmon
canned legumes like chickpeas, black beans, baked beans in tomato sauce
canned and stewed tomatoes (an easy pasta or dipping sauce!)
100% juice, in juice boxes or poured into single-serving containers (freeze them to keep lunches cool!)

Refrigerated Items
yogurt (varieties with real fruit rather than lots of added sugar; better yet, buy plain and mix in fresh or frozen fruit—-plain yogurt can also be used for dips)
cheese (block cheese, cheese strings, cottage cheese, cream cheese)
non-dairy milk (almond, rice)
fresh vegetables and fruit

Frozen Items
whole-grain pita and tortillas
frozen fruits for smoothies and yogurt, or to add as ice cubes to juice
dinners that make for great leftovers (chili, lasagna, meatballs)
single-serving soups

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