25 Healthy School Lunch Ideas

Written by Anna Pashkova, MS, RDN, LD, ACSM-EP / Reviewed by Chef Julie Andrews, MS, RDN, CD, FAND

It’s that time of year again to think about healthy back-to-school recipe ideas for kids – whether that’s portable or at-home options (either way it’s wise to pack lunches and snacks ahead of time!).

What makes a healthy school lunch?

When I’m crafting recipes that are lunch box friendly, I think of things that will reheat well, are no-cook (meaning they also don’t need to be heated up) and they provide nourishment for growing bodies. Things like pasta salads, roll-ups, sandwiches and egg bites can easily fit in a lunch or bento box.

Then, I fill the rest of the box up with fruits and veggies and easy items that have protein, like string cheese or yogurt. Crackers are also a great thing to toss into a lunch box.

So, I’ve compiled several lunch box-friendly main dishes, sides and snacks that’ll keep the kids full and satisfied – and they’re delicious, too!

P.S. Even the adults will love these!

Crispy Baked Chicken Nuggets

This recipe for crunchy and tender chicken nuggets will absolutely please kids of any age and adults alike. Serve it with a 2-ingredient honey mustard, any favorite sauce or just by themselves!

They make a great snack or entree and can easily be reheated under the broiler.

Chicken nuggets as a healthy back-to-school recipe idea

Chorizo & Hash Brown Egg Muffins

For rushed mornings, make these quick and simple chorizo & hash brown egg muffins ahead of time and have them ready to eat for the entire week. They can be either frozen or refrigerated.

Tasty, satisfying and filled with protein, these egg muffins will make you look forward to mornings!

Chorizo & Hash Brown Egg Muffins on plates (a great back to school recipe idea)

Carrot Fries with Chipotle Aioli

Who doesn’t love fries? These are a take on your traditional French fries, but made ‘healthier’ by roasting or grilling the carrots (your choice!)

Pair them with chipotle aioli or any favorite dipping sauce to make an awesome side dish for a lunch or after school snack.

Carrot fries for a back-to-school recipe for snacks or lunches

More Healthy Back-to-School Recipe Ideas

Mini Chocolate Chip Muffins

Mini muffins in a basket as a healthy back-to-school recipe idea

Ham, Cheese & Veggie Pinwheels

Mini snack plates on white marble backdrop (one of the back-to-school healthy recipes)

Roasted Veggie Mac and Cheese Cups

A healthy back-to-school recipe of veggie mac and cheese cups in a muffin tin.

Chocolate-Dipped Peanut Butter Cereal Bars

Chocolate-Dipped Peanut Butter Cereal Bars

Oat, Coconut & Walnut Bars

Oat, Coconut & Walnut Bars stacked.

Broccoli Cheese Egg Muffins

Overhead shot of broccoli cheese egg muffins

Blueberry Date Muffins

Blueberry Date Muffins in a bowl

Soft Batch Breakfast Cookies

Soft breakfast cookies stacked on top of one another

The Ultimate Veggie Sandwich

Side shot of a veggie sandwich on a white marble counter

Antipasto Turkey Roll-Ups

Side shot of antipasto roll-ups stacked on top of each other

Chinese Chicken Salad

Overhead shot of Chinese chicken salad in a white bowl

Caprese Pesto Pasta Salad

Caprese Pasta Salad in a white bowl (perfect for a healthy back-to-school idea)

Green Bean Potato Salad

Green bean potato salad in a white bowl

Italian Sausage, Bell Pepper, and Spinach Pasta

Overhead shot of sausage, pepper, and spinach pasta for a back-to-school recipe.

Healthy Back-to-School Recipe Ideas from Around the Web

Check out these other amazing kid-friendly recipes that are perfect for back-to-school from other dietitian bloggers:

Hope you enjoy these healthy back-to-school recipes and walk away with a few go-to favorites for the year ahead! 🙂


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