Some days, it can be hard enough to figure out what you want for lunch, never mind your kids. And, let’s face it, sometimes healthy and exciting lunch box ideas can be hard to come by.

You know you need to pack a nutritious lunch for your kids in order to keep them sharp and help them power through their day. But whatever you put into their lunch box better also be tasty, or they won’t give it a second look and will gladly munch on their friends’ extra cookies and crackers instead.

So what’s a time-pinched, busy mom with school-aged kids who need to eat healthy, delicious meals to do? Check out our three simple lunch box ideas, of course!

3 Quick and Healthy Lunch Box Ideas for Kids

Peanut Butter & Jelly

Old school processed peanut butter and sugary jelly squished between white bread is a nutrition nightmare. However, this lunchtime staple can be transformed into a nutrition powerhouse before you can say YUM! Here’s how to make over this old standby: 

  • Upgrade the sugar-heavy processed peanut butter with a natural peanut butter or other nut or seed butter (think almond butter, cashew butter, or even sunflower seed butter). 
  • Swap ultra-processed white bread for whole grain bread, Ezekial bread, or high-fiber crackers. 
  • While you’re swapping, why not switch out a store-bought, sugar-filled jelly with freshly sliced strawberries, an all-fruit spread, or even dehydrated fruit for a little crunch? Dehydrated fruit pulls out a bunch of the sugar and takes nutrition up a notch with vitamin C and fiber. Just be sure to watch for added sugars in store-bought varieties—if you can dehydrate the fruit at home, that’s even better.

Rice & Beans

It’s challenging to improve on rice and beans, but even the most devoted legume and whole grain lover has to admit that cooking time is a factor in making this perfect pair. Not only that, but white rice and your same ole beans deserve to be leveled up a notch. 

  • If your modern self doesn’t have hours to labor over those beans, whip up some quinoa in the 20 minutes it takes to help your daughter decide on her outfit du jour and pair it with faster-cooking legumes, like lentils or peas, for a delicious balance of fiber-rich, nutrient-dense flavor.
  • In a real time crunch? Lean on BPA-free canned lentils. They’re just as delish, and it doesn’t get much faster than opening up a can.
  • Top your concoction with avocado, salsa, sriracha (if you have a daring kid!) or sour cream to turn it into a meal. While this speedy-prep option is a time saver, it also offers all the fiber, B vitamins, and nutritional benefits of the classic version, so you’re not losing a thing by taking a shortcut. 

RELATED: Try These 5 Healthy Snack Ideas that Require NO Skills

Milk & Cookies

While nothing could possibly replace the taste and comfort of this yummy duo, nutritional improvements are easy to sneak in with no loss of flavor. Small swaps and substitutions go a long way, and your kiddos will never notice the difference.

  • At the very least, make your cookies at home versus leaning on store-bought varieties. This small trick alone is a major healthiness upgrade. 
  • Halve the sugar in your cookie recipe.
  • Spoon in some flax meal and replace all purpose flour with almond flour. 
  • Upgrade your milk by making it organic or switching to unsweetened almond milk. 

Ready to take things a step further? See if you can get your kiddos on board with Three-Seed Energy Balls and a beautiful green Iced Almond Matcha Latte for a combo full of plant-based protein, fiber, antioxidants, and healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Sweet, satisfying, and healthy—sounds like a win to us! 

While not every lunch box idea will be a home run, we bet these three options will end up on regular rotation. Here’s to happy, healthy kiddos… and happy, healthy mamas!

About Nutritious Life Editors

The Nutritious Life Editors are a team of healthy lifestyle enthusiasts who not only subscribe to — and live! — the 8 Pillars of a Nutritious Life, but also have access to some of the savviest thought leaders in the health and wellness space — including our founder and resident dietitian, Keri Glassman. From the hottest trends in wellness to the latest medical science, we stay on top of it all in order to deliver the info YOU need to live your most nutritious life.

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