5 Tips for Planning Healthy Lunches Kids Love! 3

5 Tips for Planning Healthy Lunches Kids Love!

Research shows that kids' attention spans depend on getting a good nutritious lunch. The good news is packing a wholesome lunch doesn’t have to be difficult. All it takes is a little preparation and some great ideas to get a smooth routine in place for packing healthy whole food lunches that are both quick-n-easy, as well as delicious!

By Kelly, Contributing Writer

Back-to-school season is almost here! And whether you homeschool, or your children attend school outside of the home, having a plan for what to serve (or pack) for lunch makes getting ready for the busy school year a whole lot easier!

In fact, taking the time to get organized and plan healthy lunches for your kiddos not only ensures they have something wholesome to fill their little tummies – research clearly shows that children’s attention span, concentration and memory are all impacted by the daily nutrition they receive, which makes packing a healthy whole food lunch all the more important.

Yet, if trying to come up with a variety of nutritious lunch options makes you feel a bit overwhelmed, don’t worry – you’re not alone! Many of us struggle with breaking out of the same old, same old lunches rut!

The good news is packing a wholesome lunch doesn’t have to be difficult. All it takes is a little preparation and some great ideas to get a smooth routine in place for packing healthy whole food lunches that are both quick-n-easy, as well as delicious!

5 Tips for Planning Healthy Lunches Kids Love


Inspiring Lunch Ideas1. Get Inspired!
Great ideas for planning wholesome and fun lunches are just a mouse click away – so, you don’t have to go-it alone! A quick google or pinterest search will uncover a ton of helpful resources for breaking free from the same-old, same-old lunches.

So be sure to take a few minutes each week to go online with your kids and seek out some new ideas to make lunch not only healthy, but fun!

To help you get started, here are my top 10 favorite healthy lunch ideas:
• 6 Strategies for Super Healthy Lunches
• 10 Easy Swaps for Healthier Lunches
21 Healthy Grab-n-Go Snacks
• Back-to-School Lunch Box Ideas & Healthy Snacks!
Healthy Ideas for Packing School Lunches
• Homemade Fruit Juice/Smoothie Pouches
• How to Make Healthy Homemade “Lunchables”
• How to Pack Hot Lunch Foods
How to Pack Eco-Friendly Lunches for Kids
• How to Choose the Right Lunchbox Food Storage System

Back to School Meal Plan2. Make a Meal Plan.
Making a weekly meal plan not only helps to ensure that your family eats healthier but it will also save you time, money and stress. That’s because once your meal plan is complete, you can go on auto-pilot – simply executing the meal plan day-by-day without having to stress over what’s for lunch (or dinner) and without making multiple trips to the market.

Time-Saving Tip: When making out your meal plan, consider which dinners lend themselves to also being a great lunch. And rather than just serving the same thing you had for dinner again for lunch, think of ways to re-purpose your leftovers, such as turning leftover grilled chicken breasts into super easy chicken salad sandwiches.

3. Create a Master List of Lunches.
Whether you opt to meal plan or not, this time-saving strategy will save you a ton of time in the long run – no more racking your brain to try to think of what you should make for the lunch. That’s because you’ve taken the time to make a list of your kids’ lunch favorites, including side dishes and snacks. Then when it’s time to plan lunches for the week, simply look at your Master List of Lunches. And, as you start trying new recipes, remember to add the ones your family likes to your list.

Plan a Prep Day with the Kids4. Prep Ahead {with your kids!}
Just a little prep time over the weekend can go a long way in making things quicker and easier for you to provide a healthy homemade lunch during the busy week ahead!

And it’s even more fun (and educational) when you invite your kids join you.

Use your prep time to prepare as many things ahead of time as possible, such as:
• Making various sandwich fillings and healthy dips
• Slicing up your favorite fruits and veggies for use as lunch sides throughout the week ahead
• Creating your own healthy snack mixes
• Baking a a batch of healthy muffins or cookies and freezing them for lunch box treats

Easy Cookie Cutter Sandwiches5. Remember, keep it simple!
There are lots of awe-inspiring lunch ideas out there – some of which look like a professional artist sculpted them. But rather than get caught up in the cute-factor, focus instead on preparing whole food based lunches with affordable fresh ingredients and easy assembly.

And if you do want to get a little fancy without spending a lot of time or money, simply use your favorite cookie cutters to quickly cut sandwiches and other soft lunch items into fun shapes for a touch of “wow” without a lot of fuss.

What are your favorite tips for preparing healthy lunches kids love?

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  1. Cookie cutters are a big one for me. This past year, my pre-schooler was always telling me she “doesn’t like sandwiches” (she’d prefer a bagel or pasta for lunch – I’d pick her up from school right at lunch time, so I liked things I could give her right away in the car). BUT, if I cut the sandwich into a fun shape, she is guaranteed to eat at least half of it! Half-way through the school year, my unpicky toddler (who gets a PBJ nearly every day) started asking if I could “make it a star, please?”

    Seriously, it takes 30 seconds, creates minimal waste, and reduces the battles over what my kids are getting for lunch. SO worth it!

    1. Isn’t it funny that something so simple can create excitement and a willingness to eat a healthy food. My boys love wraps – I can put so many foods that they “don’t like” in a wrap and slice the wrap into little bite-sized circles and suddenly they’re excited to eat it. LOL! I agree … if it works, it’s definitely worth the extra minute or two! Thanks for taking the time to share your story! Blessings, Kelly

    1. Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a kind note, Christine! I think we all hope our kids will eat more veggies!! 🙂

  2. These tips and great and truly needed with school starting soon. Thank you for sharing these great ideas.

    1. Thanks, Stacy! I hope they help! Appreciate you taking the time to leave a kind note! 🙂

  3. My best tip is make the kids pack their own! It’s so frustrating to see a lunch come back basically uneaten…so I stock the fridge, give them some guidelines (and help for the little one) and let them prep their own in the evening. The basic guidelines are: two fruits or veggies minimum, one carb, one protein, one dairy 🙂

    1. Such good advice, Ann! Couldn’t agree more that getting kids involved from planning to prep to packing is a great strategy for ensuring lunch gets eaten and they are learning about healthy real foods’ role in nourishing the body. Thanks for taking the time to share your recommendations! Blessings, Kelly

  4. Thanks for these great tips! You are so right, planning is the key. And thanks for permission not to have to be so cute with it all of the time. I needed that! LOL! Lisa~

    1. aww, Liz! You are such an encourager. Thank you so much for your kind words! What a blessing you are! In HIM, Kelly

  5. Thank you, thank you, thank you! My first daughter started all-day school last year and she had a turkey and cheese sandwich with fruit and nuts EVERY day. She was very picky and I was stuck in a lunch rut. I think this year we are both ready to try some new things!!! Because of this post, I have come up with over 20 different healthy lunches in just 90 minutes. I am so grateful. I love your weekly meal plans too and use your meals several days each week.

    1. I am so thrilled to hear this, Kendra! Thank you so much for taking the time to leave an encouraging note! I am honored to be able to offer some inspiration – praise be to God for how He can use us to encourage one another! Lots of blessings, Kelly

  6. I really liked your advice on having a master list of lunches so that whenever I am having troubles deciding on what to prepare for the child, I can just take a look at it. Though there are times when I really have no time to prepare anything since I am extremely busy. Surely there are some moms in the school that are like me. Perhaps, we can have a meeting and ask the school to have someone to prepare lunches for kids whenever the parents can’t.

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