Healthy Lunch & Snack Ideas for the New School Year

August 18, 2015

Healthy school lunch ideasNo matter how prepared for the new school year you think you are, it can always be challenging to figure out what to pack for school lunches and snacks. Trying to balance healthy, nutritious food and things the kids will actually eat can be difficult, too.

Here are a few of my family's favorite lunchbox treats that are not only good for you, but delicious and fun to eat, too. The kids love to help make them—I find that they usually eat food they prepare themselves (even vegetables!), so I usually let them help out in the kitchen when I can, especially when we're making their school lunches.

Tortellini Skewers

My daughter absolutely loves cheese tortellini (and what kid doesn’t?) so we make these neat little skewers for a lunchtime treat.

You’ll need:

  • 1 8-ounce package of fresh cheese-filled tortellini
  • 1 8-ounce container small fresh mozzarella balls (ciliegine)
  • Whole black olives
  • Cherry tomatoes

Take bamboo or wooden skewers and thread onto them tortellini, mozzarella balls, olives, and sweet cherry tomatoes. Use different colored tomatoes for a festive look. Use two to four tortellini per stick and alternate them with tomatoes, cheese and olives. Feel free to leave off tomatoes or olives if your kids won’t eat them, of course.

I also use a pair of kitchen shears or wire cutters to snip off the sharp pointed ends of the skewers before they go into lunchboxes, for safety’s sake.

Healthy school lunch ideasHealthy school lunch ideas

Fresh Fruit Skewers

While you have your skewers out, try this fresh and healthy variation: thread different pieces of fruit onto a skewer: strawberries, pineapple chunks, grapes, melon pieces, banana slices—whatever you can think of or have on hand. I often include some low-fat vanilla yogurt as a dipping sauce for the fruit. It’s delicious and sweet and the kids don’t even realize it’s good for them, too.

Roll-up Sandwiches

Roll up some roast turkey with whole-wheat flatbread and kid-friendly vegetables for a tasty lunch.

Ingredients:

  • Whole-wheat lavash bread or flour tortillas
  • Thinly sliced roast turkey from the deli counter
  • Whipped cream cheese
  • Shredded carrots
  • Thinly sliced hot-house cucumber

Place a sheet of whole-wheat lavash or a whole-wheat flour tortilla on a cutting board and spread with cream cheese, leaving about one inch on each side uncovered. Layer with shredded carrots, cucumber, and turkey, then roll up into a cylinder. Cut in half on the bias.

You can also cut them up into half-inch wide pinwheels, which kids love, too.

Healthy school lunch ideasHealthy school lunch ideas

Oatmeal Muffins

Low in fat, high in fiber, and lightly sweet, these oatmeal muffins are a treat the kids love to get these in their lunchboxes or after school; they make a great play date tea party snack, too.

Ingredients (makes 1 dozen regular size muffins or approximately 20 mini muffins):

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • ½ cup raisins
  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup milk

Preheat oven to 425ºF. Mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Stir in oats and raisins. Add oil, egg, and milk, then stir until moistened.

Spoon the batter into greased or papered muffin tins. Bake for 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Healthy school lunch ideasHealthy school lunch ideas