Real Food Tips: 10 Ways to Switch Up Your Kid’s Lunch

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This is the first post in my new “100 Days of Real Food Tips” series. Enjoy!

Think Beyond the Sandwich Bread…

  1. Pinwheels (pictured)

Rolled up whole-wheat tortillas filled with:

    • Cream cheese*, thin cucumber slices, and dill
    • Goat cheese* and roasted red bell peppers (sold as pimentos)
    • Peanut butter* and banana slices
    • Sunflower butter* and all-fruit spread (similar to jelly)
    • Egg salad
    • Hummus, cheese, and grated carrots

*Easiest to spread when the tortilla is warm…don’t forget the fun toothpicks!

  1. Apple Sandwiches (pictured)

I got this idea from Williams-Sonoma and all you have to do is slice the apple*, cut out the core with a small round cookie cutter, knife or corer, and fill with:

    • Peanut or sunflower butter
    • Raisins
    • Raw rolled oats (optional)

*Can also squirt apple with a little lemon juice so it doesn’t turn brown

  1. Whole Grain Crackers

Top with all the usual sandwich fillings or use two crackers to make little sandwiches.

  1. Whole-Wheat Waffles, Banana Bread or Biscuits

Whole-Wheat Zucchini Muffins

Any of these options would be a fun stand-in for the typical sandwich bread. The waffles and banana bread would be especially delicious with some plain or flavored cream cheese in the middle.

  1. Whole-Grain Muffins

Forget a sandwich all together and send in some homemade whole-wheat muffins – like zucchini (pictured) or blueberry – in place of bread. Most muffins can be made in advance and pulled out of the freezer the night before school.

Other Lunch Ideas…

  1. Whole-Wheat Non-Deep Fried Donuts (pictured at top)

When I brought home a little plug-in donut maker (similar to a waffle maker) from Target my husband said, “Oh great, another appliance to find room for.” But my children devour these little donuts and feel like they’re getting an extra special “treat” so I think it was well worth the purchase. You can also make an extra big batch of these mini-donuts and freeze the extras for later. If you buy one try this recipe for 28 donuts: 1 cup whole-wheat flour, 3 tsp baking powder, 1 egg, 1/2 cup milk, 1/4 cup pure maple syrup, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, 4 tablespoons oil (I used coconut oil).

  1. Fruit Kabobs

    Whole-Wheat Pizza Toast

Incorporate fruit and cheese that you know your child likes as well as one new item. Everything is more fun on a stick!

  1. Whole-Wheat Pizza Toast

This is much faster than making regular pizza from scratch and just as delicious. Simply top regular whole-wheat sandwich bread with sauce and cheese then pop it in the toaster oven….and voila!

  1. Warm Lunch in Thermos

A Thermos is a great way to switch things up when it comes to packing lunch. Try soups, oatmeal, brown rice or whole-grain pasta dishes, and leftover dinners.

  1. Homemade Freezie Pops or “Gogurts” (pictured)

    Homemade Smoothie Pops

I’ve been talking about these reusable freezie pop holders for a while now, but I love them so much I just couldn’t leave them off the list. I fill them with everything from smoothies to plain yogurt mixed with homemade berry sauce to store-bought applesauce and then stick them in the freezer. They are usually semi-frozen by the time my daughter eats lunch at school and she devours them every time!

If you have any other fun lunch ideas you’d like to share please leave them in the comments below.



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162 comments to Real Food Tips: 10 Ways to Switch Up Your Kid’s Lunch

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  • Judy

    We make “pizza skewers”. We save a little extra sliced sausage from pizza or sauce, and alternate sausage, fresh mozzarella cheese balls, and little tomatoes on the skewer. Then I make small breadsticks (just use your pizza dough recipe, brush tops with a little olive oil, garlic & Parm cheese, and bake). It’s one of the kids favorite lunches, and they like helping to assemble too! :)

  • Kim

    Here’s a donut recipe I use in the donut maker:

    1 cup protein powder (vanilla)
    1 cup of baking mix–the gluten free
    1 egg
    1 cup almond milk (can use reg)
    1 cup apple sauce–unsweetened
    1 tsp vanilla
    2 tsp baking powder
    Chocolate chips

    Mix together and chill in the refrig and then use.

  • Alison

    We are about to try making our own veggie sushi at home for my dd’s lunches. We’ll let you know how it works out but since she already loves sushi I figured the next logical step is to try it at home in hopes that it can become a regular. I am using a youtube video to guide me but it looks pretty straightforward (famous last words……)

  • Christy D

    Your kid lunch ideas are great! I also pack lunches for myself and my husband regularly. I often take leftovers that I can heat, but that’s not possible for my husband who is always on the road. He’s also not thrilled when I pack things in a thermos because he says they’re luke warm at best by the time he gets to them. I’d love some other ideas for him other than sandwiches. Unfortunately, muffins, cold pizzas and cheese and crackers don’t really cut it for my husband who is constantly on the go!

    • Rosina

      Trying filling your husbands thermos with boiling hot water before adding his lunch to it. This way your container is hot before adding the food. It works for me every time .

  • Christy D

    Thank you, I’ve tried that, but he still complains about it not being warm enough!

  • […] I would add some turkey pepporonis to this lunchable and my girls will love to make their own!  Pinwheels, Apple Sandwiches, Wheat Donuts100 Days of Real Food We have made these apple sandwiches before, my girls call them “apple […]

  • […] have traded cigarettes for healthier eating. And (gasp!) I have even gotten my kids to agree to try whole food mac and cheese and apple sandwiches. And so far, it has been pretty easy. Know why? The folks I am surrounding myself with make it […]

  • Darlett

    I made the blueberry scones…My first item from this website. My 15 year liked it. I added more honey then I liked it. Any comments on the apple sandwiches? I wanted to know if any teenagers may have liked it or just kids in general…never heard of sunflower butter…on a mission to find it

  • […] on her kids’ lunches than I do, I was able to glean some relatively easy and fun ideas from her “10 Ways to Switch up Your Kid’s Lunch” list and her “Nut-Free School Lunches” list. Here are some of my […]

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