10 Healthy, Nourishing School Lunches

Looking for healthy school lunch ideas? School lunch has quickly become one of the most deplorable American meals – comprised of low-cost, commodity items like CAFO-raised beef, canned fruit and vegetables. Standard lunches of chocolate milk, overcooked peas and mealy french fries lack versatility in nutrients, flavor and, most importantly, they lack inspiration.  So, per reader request, I’ve put together a list of ten satisfying, flavorful and nourishing meals that can be easily packed in a lunchbox, thermos or bag along with a bottle of chilled milk, fresh cider, water kefir or even milk kefir. So print this post and pin it to your fridge in preparation for next week’s lunch plans, then share your favorite and healthiest school lunches.

Day #1: Salmon Cakes

Day #2: A Roast Beef Sandwich

Day #3: Ham and Melon Roll-ups

  • Pasture-raised ham and melon roll-ups with fresh mint
  • Homemade crackers with raw cheddar cheese
  • Carrot sticks

Other Posts on Kids and Food

Day #4: Black Bean Soup and Muffins

Day #5: Egg Salad Sandwiches

Day #6: Leftover Pot Roast

Day #7: Almond Butter and Banana Sandwiches

  • Roast almond butter and banana sandwiches on sprouted wheat bread
  • Carrot and celery sticks
  • Raisins

Day #8: Chicken Nuggets (The Real Food Way)

Day #9: Hummus and Lamb Kebabs

Day #10: Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

Don’t forget to share you favorite, healthiest school lunches in the comments!

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What people are saying

  1. Brandy says

    I needed more lunch ideas and these are great- thanks! What the cafeteria serves in our elementary school is just sad. We had funnel cake on our breakfast menu the other day. Unbelievable.

  2. says

    Great ideas!

    How about wild-caught Pacific salmon salad sandwiches? With homemade mayo, onions, red peppers, on sprouted grain bread or wraps.

    Hummus with a bunch of chopped vegetables.

    Homemade chicken corn chowder or cream of potato soup with pastured bacon or ham. Homemade crackers.

  3. Soozer says

    And pizza can always be made healthy and tasty. Use whole wheat dough, fresh chopped tomatoes, basil, low fat skim mozzarella and ricotta cheese and turkey sausage topping….the list of healthful things to top it with is endless. Not to mention fresh veggie soup with whole grain crackers. I rage at the Lunch Ladies on Jamie Oliver’s show. This is not rocket science.

  4. Lisa says

    These look great!
    We can’t do meat dishes in our school because of kosher issues, so it does limit my options tremendously. My kids love Caeser Salad with sprouted bread croutons and I also pack them cucumber sushi with the fermented soy sauce.

  5. says

    Thanks for putting this together. It seems I’m always trying to find enticing new meals for my kids to eat and we get tired of the same old thing. Hummus with veggies is a regular for us as well as the almond butter banana sandwiches, but a lot of the other ones are new ideas. Awesome, thanks!

  6. Joann says

    Love these lunch ideas! I needed them so much! Lunch time can be crazy in our homeschooling house. Everyone is so hungry. Thank you for the inspiration.

  7. Jenny says

    Joann – 

    I’m glad you like the lunch ideas!  Soups are frequent lunches here, and it’s always good to share what works, you know?

    - Jenny

  8. Jenny says

    Rebecca -

    I loved your idea about salmon salad sandwiches!  That sounds seriously yummy.  I might make some for supper tonight ;).

     – Jenny

  9. says

    Those look awesome, but you can’t heat up soups and other dishes in typical school settings, so that might present a problem. With our younger elementary children, we really try to stick with (travel-friendly) less messy foods for practical reasons, too – less work for the teachers, too.

    And lastly (I’m such a pain in the butt, I know!) we really need to watch sending nuts to school, just in case of allergies with other kiddos. Sometimes the schools won’t publicize a child’s severe allergies to other parents for “privacy reasons” I have learned, so it never hurts to be extra-careful.

    I’ll eat it all, though! Mmm!

    • Nattie says

      You can put the soup in a small travel thermos to stay worm
      Warm and to create less mess add broken up good bread, or brown cooked rice. Yes nut issue is sosomething most of us have to think about. Try dried chickpeas instead of nuts with a seed mix and leave out the walnuts.

  10. says

    I can come up with cooler weather lunches just fine, but what about warm weather lunches? My little ones will eat only so many salads.

  11. Merrie says

    I need help with school lunches! It is way too hot for soup here, and she is getting bored with frittata and sandwiches. Our school also has a no nut policy. Pizza is a good idea. Anyone got anything for me?

  12. says

    I know this may sound boring but we usually just send leftovers with my daughter to school kept warm in her thermos. We are usually in such a rush in the morning and I try to focus on giving them a healthy breakfast that lunch is usually over-looked as a special meal. I am going to try making the chicken nuggets in large batches and freeze them, and I also love the hummus idea! They only have 15 mins to eat lunch (horrible, I know) so it has to be something she can eat fast. Plus my kids are pretty picky eaters. Now that I have another kid starting school next fall and another one after that I need to start putting more thought into their lunches. Great post Jenny!

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