47 Easy School Lunches Nutritionists Love
Balancing nutritious and tasty is tricky, especially when it comes to kids. These nutritionist-approved lunches—and lunch components—will solve all your problems this school year.
Pita with hummus and cucumber slices
"As a mom, my first priority is to make sure my kids eat! I never thought that would be my first goal but that's my reality," says Brooke Alpert, MS, RD, and author of The Detox Diet. "As a rule of thumb, I try to make sure that there is always a protein and fiber option in my kids' lunches." Check out these 7 unique hummus recipes.
Almond butter and fresh strawberries on banana bread
"I think it's so important to let your kids have a say in what goes in their lunch. I like to set out a few different choices—baby carrots, string cheese, yogurt, popcorn, snack bars, applesauce, etc.—and let them pick two or three options to put in," says Alpert.
This smoothie includes banana, peach, collagen protein powder and a handful of spinach. "I also love to think outside the lunchbox too—sometimes leftovers from dinner work great, or I can make healthy muffins with my girls and use that as a main course option—they love banana almond flour muffins," says Alpert. Kefir happens to be one of the 7 best probiotic foods for your gut that aren't yogurt.
Maggie Savage, nutritionist and blogger at She Let Them Eat Cake, told Reader's Digest that she likes to give her kids a smoothie that's green grapes, mango, and avocado.
"Ants on a log"
Arianne Perry, co-founder and CEO of Sweet Defeat and a certified health coach, says to put natural peanut butter on celery sticks with raisins for a fun-looking, delicious snack. "[It's] a delicious combination of protein, healthy, fat, and fiber," says Perry.
Peanut Butter Banana Wrap
This isn't your normal peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Lisa Moskovitz, RD, advises putting natural peanut butter or Sunflower seed butter with sliced bananas, cinnamon, and a drizzle of honey on a whole wheat tortilla. "A healthy lunch for kids is one that includes at least two to three food groups and offers a variety of vitamins, minerals, protein, and fiber," says Moskovitz. Tired of stirring that natural peanut butter? You need this simple trick.
Moskovitz suggests making a meal like a personal pizza with whole wheat pita, shredded cheese, tomato sauce, and a vegetable your child likes, such as green peppers or spinach. "The key is to keep meals simple yet fun," she says. Moskovitz even suggests preparing foods in fun shapes, including messages, packing lunch in bags that feature your kid's favorite cartoons or sports and allowing your kids to eat with their hands. She also recommends pairing healthy things with something more indulgent, like fruit with chocolate.
Turkey Swiss Pinwheel
Joy Bauer, MS, RDN, and founder of Nourish Snacks, tells Real Simple that she makes these with whole grain tortilla, turkey, and Swiss cheese. By the way, if you're avoiding carbs, you should check out these 7 science-backed reasons you should eat more whole grains.