10 min read

20 Fun and Healthy Back-To-School Lunchbox Ideas

It’s back-to-school time! That means crafting your kiddos’ daily lunches again -- so why not consider making lunchtime more fun when you work these adorable and healthy ideas into their lunch boxes? You can even get the littles at home to help. They’re sure to keep them smiling all day while providing a burst of energizing nutrition at the same time! Some of these are so delicious that adults in the house may want to have extras around for their lunch, too!

*For some of our favorite creations, an insulated container would be ideal. Something like a bento box, stainless steel lunch container, or a thermos would be great, so long as it is insulated. Look for whatever works best for you with this in mind: you’ll want something sturdy to protect the shape of some creations, which will keep some cold, and others hot. (Just so you know, we don’t receive anything if you click on a link below. We just want to provide some fun, healthy ideas for your family!)

To make any of these recipes healthier, opt for sprouted, whole grain or sourdough bread. Check ingredients to be sure there aren’t a ton of added sugars. (Peanut butter, jelly, yogurt, and even bread can be terrible culprits of hidden added sugars.)

1. Woodland creature sandwiches

It just takes a few extra minutes to make these adorable, protein-rich goodies for your kiddo’s lunch box. All you’ll need are a few cookie cutters, a pinch of fruit, some different colored breads and a couple of high-quality proteins of your choice, and voila! A critter-filled lunchbox to surprise them at the lunch table.

How to make it

2. Butterfly snack bags

Pack healthy fruits, nuts, crackers, and cereal mix in super cute style when you use this fun idea! Paula from Beauty through Imperfection shares her method of beautifying otherwise boring lunchbox contents with pretty painted butterfly clothespins.

You’ll need 8 simple supplies (including scissors, ziplock baggies, and the snacks themselves), several of which you likely have at home already. Set aside an afternoon crafting with the kiddos before they start school, and they can help you make these -- then it will be extra special when they see them in their lunches for the first time! It can help them remember to recycle their snack bags, too.

How to make it

3. Lunch kabobs

4. Pizza muffins

5. Banana sushi

Give them a nice dose of potassium and vitamin B6 with this yummy mid-day treat. A fresh variation on the old school peanut butter and banana sammie, this healthy lunchbox creation makes a great side to just about any main you pack it with.

*If you want to keep your bananas looking fresh until lunchtime, try gently tossing them in a little fresh-squeezed lemon after you slice them (but before you construct the sushi rolls, of course).

You can also turn these into a healthy dessert by adding 1 dark chocolate chip to the center of a slice

How to make it

6. Colorful bento box ideas

Based on a Japanese tradition of packing healthy boxed meals on the go, bento boxes are now a hot new trend for American lunchboxes, especially fun if you buy the dividers and sauce cups to go with them. You don’t have to buy the expensive kind -- just make sure they’re made of a safe material like stainless steel or BPA-free plastic and start crafting creative lunches--and keep it colorful!

Here are some of our kid-friendly favorites:

Mini-pancakes with fruits & veg
Taco bento box
Reading time bento box
Hearty pasta & meatballs w/peas and sides
Shel Silverstein-inspired bento box
Mermaid bento box with pasta and quinoa
Italian orzo pasta salad w/fruit, cheese & pistachios
Bird’s nest bento box

7. Healthy pinwheel sammies

8. Homemade lunchables

9. Homemade uncrustables

You’ll need a nifty gadget like this (unless you’ve got a better idea) to make uncrustables at home. You could also try this kind that is a little cheaper. There’s also this one, which keeps the square shape of the bread. In a pinch, you could just use the rim of a glass to press in for the circle shape, cut your sandwich out, then press all around the edges with the tines of a fork.

Once you get your gadget, you can start making your uncrustables and freeze them until you’re ready to pack lunches. Check below for some of the best ideas we could find:

How to make it

Copycat uncrustables - pizza, PB&J, and turkey (these are made with a waffle maker and biscuit dough, and don’t need the sandwich sealer)
Banana & Cinnamon, Avocado w/Tomato & Hummus, Tuna Fish uncrustables (do not freeze)

10. Healthy no-bake rice Krispy energy balls

11. Mason jar lunches

12. Homemade hot pockets

13. Under the sea fish snacks

With only 5 ingredients needed (the creator also adds a smidge of blue coloring, but you could probably leave it out if your blueberry yogurt is blue enough) -- which you can easily grab at any major grocery store.

If you’ve got the right kind of container that can protect their design and also keep them cool, you’ve got a great dessert for your lunchbox.

How to make it

14. Easy lunchbox noodle wraps

15. Homemade SpaghettiOs

Only 7 ingredients are needed (and 2 of them are optional) to make this delicious lunchtime classic in your own kitchen. If you make it the night before, just heat it up in the morning, spoon some into a thermos to keep it warm until the kids go to lunch, and make sure to throw some soft breadsticks or crusty bread in the lunchbox to go with it.

This is superb comfort food for the cool fall days coming up. This recipe makes 4 servings.

How to make it

16. Fruity fish with pretzel rod poles

17. Flip flop sandwiches

These cute flip flop sammies will bring back fond memories of their summer adventures so they can share stories while they munch at lunch. A refreshing hint of cucumber and some protein-packed hummus meet up with a light, crustless bread and thick cheese sticks for the win.

You can also add a little layer of turkey underneath the cuke, remove the cucumber completely if your kiddo doesn’t like them (although they might change their minds if they try it in this sandwich!), use a different piece of fruit on top (small red grape, blackberry) or some pretzel sticks instead of cheese sticks. Hold it all in place with a pinch of tahini paste or something edible of a similar consistency.

How to make it

18. Super fun veggie bug snacks

Assemble these cuties in just a few minutes using fresh produce and proteins inside the crunchiest celery you can find -- a perfect side dish in any kid’s lunch. The creator uses organic cream cheese to fill the celery, but suggests you can also use hummus instead if you want a variation, a different flavor, or just to veganize it. Peanut butter or sunflower butter might work all right, too.

Serve them next to any type of sandwich, soup, homemade hot pockets or pinwheels.

How to make it

19. Apple slice donuts with healthy cream 
cheese instead of icing

How to make it

20. Rainbow grapes

How to make it

At Jungle Roots Children’s Dentistry & Orthodontics, we strive to provide the highest comprehensive pediatric and orthodontic dental care in a unique, fun-filled environment staffed by a team of caring, energetic professionals. We believe the establishment of a “dental home” at an early age is the key to a lifetime of positive visits to the dentist.

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