Kid-Friendly Lunch Ideas
When it comes to lunch, don't phone it in every afternoon with a cheese sandwich. Here are 20 Clean Eating lunch ideas that’ll have your kids feeling energized and, most importantly, totally satiated every day when the lunch bell rings! Note: If they’re picky about eating certain proteins, refer to our substitution suggestions!
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1. Monte Cristo
They may not remember when the Monte Cristo first had its glory days decades ago, but they’ll love gobbling up our clean version – it might just spawn some lunchtime envy…
SUBS: Chicken, spice-rubbed tofu steaks
See the complete A Better Monte Cristo Sandwich recipe here.
2. Chicken, Spinach & Ricotta Quesadillas
Sneak a little spinach into their lunch box between the folds of these protein-fueled quesadillas. Your little Popeyes will thank you later!
SUBS: Turkey, marinated tofu cubes
See the complete Chicken, Spinach & Ricotta Quesadillas recipe here.
3. Egg & Ham Turnovers
Breakfast for lunch! If your wee ones like their eggs, pop one of our versatile turnovers into their lunch bag. Feel free to switch up the fillings with different cheeses, meats and veggies!
SUBS: Turkey bacon, crumbled sausage, ground tofu
See the complete Egg & Ham Turnovers recipe here.
4. Pasta Roll-ups with Turkey & Spinach
Get the tots involved in preparing this dish by having them roll up the soft pasta strips with tasty turkey and bright green spinach (plus lots of calcium!) Tip: Try baking without the top sauce and pack a side of sauce for lunchtime dipping!
SUBS: Ground chicken, ground tofu, ground pork
See the complete Pasta Roll-ups with Turkey & Spinach recipe here.
5. Pita Paninis with Tuna, Sprouts, Zucchini & Avocado Cream
Pack your pint-sized eaters a pocketed lunch (grilled or not) that’ll have the other kids drooling. Plus, you’ll be laughing all the way home from the grocery store – this recipe is a mere $3.21 per serving!
SUBS: Salmon, nitrite/nitrate-free deli meats, chicken, turkey, spice-rubbed tofu steaks
See the complete Pita Paninis with Tuna, Sprouts, Zucchini & Avocado Cream recipe here.
6. Penne with Chicken Sausage, Tomatoes & Spinach
To keep your kids fueled for the day, send them off with a Tupperware full of goodness in the form of pasta, lean chicken sausage and spinach. They’ll get 41% of their daily value of vitamin A, which helps keep bones and teeth strong!
SUBS: Tofu-based sausage, turkey sausage
See the complete Penne with Chicken Sausage, Tomatoes & Spinach recipe here.
7. Meatball Sub with Roasted Veggies & Tomato Sauce
Our clean and quick meatball sub knocks its fast-food counterparts out of the ballpark! Feel free to add mozzarella if your kids are fans, and mash the meatballs a bit so there aren’t any runaways when the little ones go in for a bite!
SUBS: Eggplant chunks, tofu meatballs, portobello mushroom chunks
See the complete Meatball Sub with Roasted Veggies & Tomato Sauce recipe here.
8. Turkey Paninis with Sun-Dried Tomatoes
Whether you pre-melt them or not, these hearty sandwiches offer over 100% of your kiddie’s daily vitamin K value and a whole lot of midday flavor, despite having only five ingredients!
SUBS: Nitrite/nitrate-free deli meat, sliced chicken breast, spice-rubbed tofu steaks
See the complete Turkey Paninis with Sun-Dried Tomatoes recipe here.
9. Crispy Asian Chicken & Creamy Corn Bake
Tweak this recipe for when the lunch bell rings! Instead of whole chicken breasts, coat chicken strips for fun, crispy fingers (cook for less time, of course). Pack with a side of your favorite natural or homemade teriyaki sauce.
See the complete Crispy Asian Chicken & Creamy Corn Bake recipe here.
10. Personal Pizza with Garlic, Spinach & Mozzarella
You might want to leave out the garlic in this one, for the sake of your children’s teachers, but this personal pizza makes for a fun and yummy lunch – you can even add their favorite cooked protein to the top before baking!
See the complete Personal Pizza with Garlic, Spinach & Mozzarella recipe here.
11. Mediterranean Tuna & White Bean Salad Collard Wraps
Show your young ones that collard greens are just as satisfying as their favorite tortilla wraps when filled with tangy tuna salad! As an added benefit, collards are also hugely nutritious thanks to their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits.
See the complete Mediterranean Tuna & White Bean Salad Collard Wraps recipe here.
12. Grilled Cuban
More adventurous eaters will love this low-cal take on the classic Cuban sandwich, which is bursting with ham, mushrooms, Swiss cheese and pickles. Plus, the fact that one serving of this dish provides your child with 80% of their daily manganese value doesn’t hurt either…
See the complete Grilled Cuban recipe here.
13. Sirloin Beef Wraps
With fiber and protein to spare, your little ones will be ready for the second half of the day after munching on these veggie- and steak-fueled wraps. They’ll especially love our take on the classic honey-dijon dressing!
SUBS: Chicken, turkey, marinated tofu, pork slices
See the complete Sirloin Beef Wraps recipe here.
14. Halibut & Black Bean Burrito Casserole
Last night’s casserole leftovers become today’s lunchtime burrito! And you can try this foolproof recipe with other proteins as well, such as diced chicken or shrimp, depending on your tots’ taste buds.
See the complete Halibut & Black Bean Burrito Casserole recipe here.
15. Chile Chicken Tortillas
This budget-friendly lunch, with its addictive avocado sour cream, is sure to become a favorite (you may want to dull down the spice depending on your children’s preferences)! The best part? It takes a mere 11 minutes to make…
SUBS: Tofu, pork slices, turkey
See the complete Chile Chicken Tortillas recipe here.
16. Creamed Corn & Tuna Spirals
Whip up a big batch of our budget-friendly, protein-fueled pasta salad, peppered with creamy corn, instead of the typical nutritionally bankrupt mac ’n’ cheese – this way you’ll have it on hand for lunches and dinners throughout the week.
SUBS: Salmon, shredded chicken
See the complete Creamed Corn & Tuna Spirals recipe here.
17. Sautéed Fish Sticks with Chips & Slaw
This cheap ’n’ cheerful dish feels like a major treat, with crisp, breaded fish sticks and dilly potato chips! You can imagine your wee ones’ beaming faces when they open their lunch bags – and yours knowing a serving is less than 300 calories and full of healthy omega fatty acids!
See the complete Sautéed Fish Sticks with Chips & Slaw recipe here.
18. Healthy Turkey Sliders with Homemade Ketchup
There’s always something fun about mini sliders, especially for those who are mini themselves! Toss a few of these scrumptious little burgers in a Tupperware for lunch and expect some majorly grateful cuddles after school!
See the complete Healthy Turkey Sliders with Homemade Ketchup recipe here.
19. Smothered Steak Sandwiches
Last night’s flank steak can easily be turned into tomorrow’s lunch with a few simple ingredients: diced tomatoes, onion, bell peppers and a baguette. But don’t worry, this loaded sandwich will taste nothing like your usual leftovers…
See the complete Smothered Steak Sandwiches recipe here.
20. Chicken Egg Rolls with Red Cabbage, Mango & Lime
Egg rolls for lunch? Yup! Your kids will fall hard for these handy chicken- and mango-filled roll-ups, with their deliciously golden crust. You’ll love that they require a mere 10 minutes of hands-on time!
SUBS: Marinated tofu
See the complete Chicken Egg Rolls with Red Cabbage, Mango & Lime recipe here.