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Healthy Lunchbox Meal Prep for Kids: 5 Nutritious Recipes to Try

If the thought of packing lunch every night for your whole family exhausts you, brighten up! Here are 6 tips to make lunchbox meal prep easier and 5 meal ideas you’ll love!

Bento style healthy lunchbox

Aaah, the smell of autumn and pencils in the air….

Every parent knows this time of the year comes with the dreaded question…what will I pack the kids for lunch this week? I had to get more creative recently since my older daughter’s school is now nut-free and we eat a lot of things containing nuts.

(Although I’m not sure which is worse…choosing lunches or dinners!)

With a little planning, you can pack those lunches with ease (including your own) without resorting to bulk boxes of chips and cookies.

A little meal prepping for kids’ lunchboxes can go a long way. It can be a great way to save time and ensure that your child has nutritious meals throughout the week. I don’t do a big meal prep on the weekend because that’s our only family time together. Instead, I’ll squeeze in assembly of items and I may make one extra thing each week. (Like, chocolate yogurt muffins, banana bread, energy balls.)

Grab your Lunchbox Cheat Sheet HERE for easy lunch ideas for you and your kids!

Here are some lunchbox meal prep tips for your kids’ lunches and your own:

2. Plan ahead: Have a flexible lunch plan for the week. Pick a “main dish” for each day, then prep or buy easy sides like granola bars, whole fruit, and yogurt cups to use all week. Consider where you may have dinner leftovers that can double as lunch. Soups, stews, and chillis can be frozen and used for lunch another day, as well.


After my 8-year-old’s lunch kept coming home untouched, I asked her to make a menu so I’d know what she’d like. It had to have a protein, a carbohydrate, and a fruit or vegetable. I also ask my daughters to pick out their snacks the night before. They place the snacks in the lunchbox or in a special section in the fridge. (This is so I don’t forget to take it out of the fridge in the morning…and so my husband doesn’t eat it instead :)

4. Prep ingredients in advance: Cut up fruits and vegetables, boil eggs, or cook proteins like chicken or beef in advance. Portion out trail mix, crackers, and dry snacks in baggies ahead of time. This will make it easier to assemble lunches quickly during the week (and easy for your kids to pack their own lunch, as well. Independence is paramount to relieving yourself from some of this work.)

5. Invest in good storage containers: Use reusable containers that are easy to open and close and keep food fresh. Bento-style lunchboxes with compartments can help keep different foods separate and fun.

These are some bento box-style lunch boxes and thermoses I like:

These are glass storage containers I like:

6. Get creative: Try different combinations of foods to keep things interesting for your child. Include a variety of colors, textures, and flavors to make their lunch more appealing. Also, sprinkle in some fun fruit cut shapes or sandwich cutters – lunchers of all ages like to eat fun shapes. (C’mon, don’t you get excited to eat star-shaped honeydew in an Edible Arrangement??)

If you love Uncrustables, you’ll love these sandwich cutters!

A sandwich

I do love Uncrustables as they come in just the right PB combos we enjoy, especially the chocolate-flavored hazelnut spread. (And, for any who knows me, I could live simply off of that brand name Ferrero delectable hazelnut spread.) AND these little frozen sandwiches have truly decent ingredients (my only complaint being that I’ve gotten my family used to natural peanut butter.) BUT, they are more expensive than making them yourself - if you have a few extra minutes on the weekend, make a bunch, throw them into baggies, and freeze them.)

These are fruit cutters that have been adding fun to our end-of-summer watermelon:

So here are five ideas for balanced lunchbox meals for kids:

1. Turkey and Cheese Skewers: Skewer chunks of turkey and cheese together for a protein-packed snack. Pair it with yogurt, watermelon, a mini oatmeal muffin, and a love note. (I always add the love note :)

2. Ham and Cheese Roll-Up: Roll up a slice of ham with half a slice of muenster cheese. Serve it with unsweetened applesauce and raw carrot sticks.

3. Sunflower Seed Butter and Strawberry Wafflewich: Spread sunflower seed butter on a waffle, top it with sliced strawberries and make a sandwich. Include hard-cooked egg whites and cucumber slices as sides.

4. Chicken Salad in Whole Wheat Pita: Fill a whole wheat pita with chicken salad. Serve it with red grapes and cucumber rounds.

5. Pizza Kabobs: Assemble tortellini, pepperoni, grape tomatoes, and green bell peppers on skewers to create pizza kabobs. Include marinara sauce for dipping and serve with red grapes.

Remember to consider your child’s preferences and any dietary restrictions they may have, or the school has when planning their meals. With a little bit of planning and preparation, you can ensure that your child has healthy and delicious lunches throughout the week.

Grab your Lunchbox Cheat Sheet HERE for easy lunch ideas for you and your kids!

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