There can be a lot of balls to juggle when it’s time for the kids to go back to school, but don’t make one of them lunch.
Having some ideas for lunch The recipes will make school days easier, whether spent at home or in the classroom.
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Healthy lunch box recipes may seem tricky, but there are so many unique tips and exchanges to make sure kids have fun with their food and, more importantly, eat it all. From classic lunchtime dishes like PB&J or charcuterie sandwiches to nutritious sides and pre-packaged meals, these are some of TODAY Food’s kid-friendly breakfasts.
Fun turns on sandwiches
PB&J Sushi Sandwiches by Brandi Milloy
Serve children a lunch staple with an inventive touch. By rolling the bread flat, this PB&J sandwich turns into fun sushi rolls to eat with a fork and knife or chopsticks.
Mini Monster Sandwiches by Brandi Milloy
Halloween will be here before you know it, so why not give a ham and cheese sandwich a spooky makeover with olive eyes? It only takes a few minutes to cut shapes out of cheese and bread for a totally silly creation that kids will love to gobble up.
I Heart Panini by Brandi Milloy
The contents of this toasted panini can be replaced with any type of cheese or cold cuts you have on hand. The sweetest part? This dish is shaped like a heart.
Message in a Sandwich Bottle by Brandi Milloy
Take cookie cutter letters and cut out love notes for little (or big) children. Whether you write “Good luck on the exam” or “I love you to the moon and back,” it’s easy to feel appreciated when Mom or Dad sends a personal note. When look for ways to avoid allergens like peanuts, replace the nut butter with sunflower seed butter suitable for the cafeteria.
Sunflower Butter Raisin Sandwich by Frances Largeman-Roth, RDN
So many kids love PB&J, but sometimes the sugar content of jam and the need for a peanut butter alternative (many districts don’t allow peanut products these days) require some kind of different sandwich. Nutritionist Frances Largeman-Roth replaces the high fructose jelly with freshly sliced grapes and uses sunflower butter.
Minion Bento Sandwich by Brandi Milloy
These Minion characters look like the artwork of a pastry chef, but all parents really need to master this sandwich design are orange and yellow cheese, nori wrappers, and kitchen scissors. Decorating Minions with different facial expressions is also a fun activity for kids to do if they are at home and can help make lunch on their own.
Easy starters for children
Easy Oven Chicken Fillets by Frances Largeman-Roth, RDN
Rather than reheating frozen nuggets or frying fingers, simulate the crunch of classic chicken fingers with this baked recipe. Prepare ahead and serve cold or reheat quickly in the oven or microwave.
Healthy English Muffin Pizza by Frances Largeman-Roth, RDN
We’ve given this kids classic a makeover that still hits all flavor marks and is super easy to make for parents (or older kids). Instead of using beef and pork pepperoni, use turkey pepperoni, which has fewer calories and less fat. Do not hesitate to garnish the mini pizzas with colorful vegetables that your children will enjoy.
Kids Rainbow Pasta Salad by Frances Largeman-Roth, RDN
Increase the nutritional value of the pasta salad by using one made from chickpeas, then sprinkle it with colorful vegetables. For an extra dose of protein, try adding canned tuna or leftover diced chicken.
Mini corn and ham frittatas by Sur La Table
Frittatas are an easy all-in-one meal to enjoy any time of the day. This recipe is packed with vegetables and gets a lot of protein from eggs and ham. You can make it ahead of time and freeze a large batch to thaw it later in the week.
Peanut Butter and Jelly Empanadas by Alejandra Ramos
Empanadas usually contain a mixture of meats and potatoes, but this version has a sweeter side. Bake PB&J empanadas ahead of time to pack them into lunch bags throughout the week, or serve them hot out of the oven as an after-school snack. You might want to double the recipe as this one is a hit with kids and adults alike.
Simple sides for a healthy lunch box
Heart Shaped Pita Chips by Michèle Olivier
Pita chips are a great container for many nutritious dips. This is a great recipe because little kids will love using cookie cutters to make fun shapes – and they’ll love to eat them, too!
Hummus with vegetables by Michèle Olivier
This vegetable filled hummus dip is an amazing recipe that will grow with your child. You can serve it as a puree for a young baby or use it as a dip for a toddler and older children. Made with carrots, sweet potatoes and chickpeas, this recipe is so good you’ll want to eat it too.
Broccomole Dip by Joy Bauer
Sacred broccomole! It’s a delicious dip that’s packed with vitamins and minerals. If your little ones love avocado, they’ll love this cheerful take on Joy Bauer that’s made with a sneaky ingredient: broccoli. There are simple tips for keeping guacamole fresh and green until lunchtime, then try them with this recipe.
Gridiron Green Goddess Dip by Frances Largeman-Roth, RDN
Serve sandwiches or any staple protein for school lunch with colorful veggies. Kids may be more inclined to devour carrots, snow peas, or radishes if there is a tasty dip. This version of Green Goddess Dressing season high protein Greek yogurt and cottage cheeses for a touch of flavor that toddlers of all ages will enjoy.
Siri’s Peanut Butter and Cocoa Energy Bites by Siri Daly
Pack a dessert in the lunchbox that will provide an energy boost rather than a high sugar level. These quick, no-bake bites are sweetened with dates, maple syrup and cocoa for a rich flavor that will make it easy to consume satiating protein and healthy seeds.
Joy Bauer’s Broccoli Tots by Joy Bauer
Say goodbye to freezer burnt bags of tater tots. This homemade version is easy and delicious. By replacing the potato with broccoli, Joy Bauer cuts down on carbs and calories without sacrificing texture and flavor. Five Fat Toddlers contain only 100 calories and make for a crisp and flavorful side dish.
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