When children sit down to eat their lunch at school each day, it’s important that they get food that’s both filling and nutritious, not to mention food they enjoy and will actually eat.
While that sounds like it shouldn’t be too difficult, try multiplying that by 180, because it’s your responsibility to make sure your kids are taken care of every single school day of the year. But moms, there is a silver lining. If you plan your hungry children’s weekly menu ahead of time, you can make things much easier on yourself while also ensuring that your little ones enjoy the healthy school lunches they find in their lunch box.
Regardless of whether you’re looking to try meat-based meals, a few vegetarian and vegan options, or deliciously suitable snacks, here are some healthy school lunch ideas in each category for every school day of the week.
Monday — Meat Option: Lunch Box Pizzas
Make your children’s Mondays a little brighter by sending them to school with Lunch Box Pizzas. “When you have these fun-to-make mini pizzas, it’s no challenge finding lunch fare that the kids enjoy. Plus they pack nicely in sandwich bags and travel well, so there’s no mess,” says Rhonda Cliett of Belton, Texas, according to Taste of Home.
All you need is a tube of refrigerated buttermilk biscuits, tomato sauce, pepperoni, Monterey Jack cheese, and Italian seasoning to make these delicious bites. However, you can customize them with whatever toppings your little one prefers.
Monday — Vegetarian/Vegan Option: Cauliflower Pizza Bites
If your child sticks to a vegetarian or vegan diet, then try Cauliflower Pizza Bites from Jessica in the Kitchen. Not only will they “satisfy your [kid’s] pizza cravings,” they’re also low-carb and gluten-free. These sauce-covered pizza bites are also a great option if you happen to have a picky eater on your hands, since this meal is “packed with hidden veggies.”
Monday — Snack: No-Bake Granola Bars
Send your snacky student to school on Mondays with these No Bake Granola Bars. This simple recipe from Tastes Better From Scratch promises to result in “thick and chewy” bars that can be adapted to include things like chocolate chips, nuts, dried fruit, coconut, and peanut butter.
However, if your child attends a school that bans certain foods that might cause serious allergic reactions, it might be best to skip the nuts and peanut butter.
Tuesday — Meat Option: Turkey Taco Salad
Taco Tuesday can be the inspiration for your child’s second lunch option of the week, Turkey Taco Salad. With a five-star average in the Taste of Home reviews section, this recipe includes salsa, peppers, and ground turkey (among a handful of other ingredients) and will add a kick to your kid’s midday meal.
Tuesday — Vegetarian/Vegan Option: Vegan Sushi Bowl
Put together this Vegan Sushi Bowl as a delicious addition to your child’s plant-based meal plan. According to It Doesn’t Taste Like Chicken, all you need to do to create this nutritious nosh is “chop up all your veggies. Yep, lots of chopping, but it is so, so worth it. Then just put some rice in a bowl, layer all your veggies around, sprinkle with some sesame seeds, and serve with soy sauce and Sriracha.”
Tuesday — Snack: Apple Cinnamon Chips
Choose a sweet option on Tuesday with healthy Warm Apple Cinnamon Chips from Jessica in the Kitchen. Although these treats can be served right out of the oven while they’re still warm, they’re also a great school snack that will remind your little one of delicious apple pie or tasty apple turnovers.
Wednesday — Meat Option: Power Pita
Fuel your child’s Wednesday activities at school with Power Pitas. Parents.com suggests stuffing “[two] mini whole wheat pita pockets with grilled-chicken strips and veggies.” However, this is another meal that you can adjust to cater to your kid’s particular preferences.
Wednesday — Vegetarian/Vegan Option: Chickpea Salad Sandwich
“Mashed chickpeas create a texture very similar to flaked chicken,” according to Oh She Glows. Find out if you (and your child) agree by mixing up and trying out some of this yummy Chickpea Salad before spreading it on some bread to put together a sandwich for your kid’s Wednesday lunch.
Wednesday — Snack: Homemade Fruit Roll-Ups
If your child likes fruit roll-ups or fruit leather, then try making this homemade version from The Best Ideas for Kids. Using only a few ingredients — including whatever sort of fruit you prefer or is in season as well as some lemon juice — these goodies are sweetened with honey, which you’ll want to leave out if you’re preparing this snack for a child who’s vegan.
Thursday — Meat Option: Turkey Ranch Wraps
For the second-to-last day of your child’s school week, try Taste of Home’s Turkey Ranch Wraps, which are super simple to put together. You can stick to a tortilla wrap with deli slices and ranch dressing or add other ingredients to please your son or daughter, such as tomato, lettuce, cheese, or peppers.
Thursday — Vegetarian/Vegan Option: Hummus and Veggie Wraps
You can also wrap up a delicious menu item for students who would rather not eat meat. Try Lauren’s Latest recipe for Hummus and Veggie Wraps that takes fresh produce and turns it into a meal that your little one will love. This healthy lunch option is ready in 10 minutes with no cooking required.
Thursday — Snack: Applesauce Oat Muffins
Little eaters will likely be thrilled to find these Healthy Applesauce Oat Muffins included in their lunchboxes as a schooltime snack. These creations from Tastes Better From Scratch — made “with simple ingredients including rolled oats, unsweetened applesauce, and whole wheat flour” — are freezer-friendly, which is great if you want to prepare these snacks ahead of time.
Friday — Meat Option: Classic Chicken Noodle Soup
If you don’t already have one, pick up a leak-proof thermos so that you can send your child to school with a nice, hot lunch on Friday. Make some Classic Chicken Noodle Soup from Lauren’s Latest so that your little one can enjoy a warm meal on the last day of the school week.
Friday — Vegetarian/Vegan Option: Chickpea Noodle Soup
For students who love soup but don’t eat chicken, opt instead for Chickpea Noodle Soup. Umami Girl’s recipe is apparently “quick and easy and satisfying.” Your little one will likely love this “vegan comfort food,” and you’ll surely love that you can make it “without a hint of hassle.”
Friday — Snack: No-Bake Brownie Energy Bites
Help your child end the school week right with No-Bake Brownie Energy Bites. This recipe from Jessica in the Kitchen serves up little dessert-like morsels made from only five ingredients. This sweet treat is both vegan and gluten-free, and it might become your child’s new favorite school snack.