Summer is here. And if your kiddos are home or you’re packing lunch for campers, it might be time to summer-rize those brown bag ideas? My oldest son is happy with the same lunch everyday. But, when my middle child came home from his second day of camp he complained: “Mom, you packed me the same lunch as you did yesterday!” Whether they’re eating at camp or home, we’ve got 4 simple ways to create a healthy mid-day meal that also inject a little fun into your kids’ lunchbox.

Get even more ideas here.

1. Kabob Lunch.

Let’s face it: food on a stick is simply more fun! Threading ordinary lunch items onto a kabob gives them a magical makeover. Here’s some combination inspiration:

  • Peanut butter sandwich squares, banana slices, and strawberries
  • Bite-size pineapple and ham chunks
  • Tortellini, cherry tomatoes, and mozzarella balls

2. Shrink Lunch.

Making mini versions of your child’s favorite meals is a fun way shake up your lunchbox routine. It also makes the packing easier on you because tonight’s dinner leftovers can do double duty as tomorrow’s lunch. Bake your favorite meatloaf recipe in a muffin tin for mini meatloaves, try our mini egg bakes, or make the macaroni muffin recipe below. Bonus: these mini meals are freezer-friendly, so you’ll always have a healthy lunch option on-hand.

3. Think Beyond the Bread.

If your kids are tired of the same ‘ol sandwich routine, it’s time to think outside the bread! Many healthy foods can serve as sandwich slices:

  • Slather peanut butter between two apples slices.
  • Slice a banana length-wise, spread with sunflower seed butter and freeze.
  • Spread hummus between thinly sliced carrots.
  • Smear pear slices with a spreadable cheese and wrap with sliced turkey.
  • Transform leftover pancakes or waffles into sandwiches with a smear of jelly and nut butter.
  • Combine refried black beans and cheese and spread on a whole-grain tortilla, roll-up and slice into “wheels.”

4. Get Snacky.

Kids love finger foods, so crafting a lunch composed of bite-size nibbles will win their hearts and stomachs. Get lunch containers with dividers (see below) or use silicone cupcake cups and fill each section with snack-size portion. Some ideas: mandarin oranges, pretzel sticks, cheese squares, chicken chunks, red pepper slices, pickles, snap peas, popcorn, quesadilla wedges, mini bagel sandwiches. Dips are the perfect accompaniment to “snack” lunches and can enhance your child’s willingness to chow down. Send salsa or black bean dip with cheese quesadilla wedges and peanut butter-yogurt dip with fruit.

Check out our favorite YumBox lunch boxes. They’re the perfect container for snack-based lunch ideas.

 

While it might be an additional task to pack lunch, at least you’ve got the ability to pack up some good nutrition that tastes great!

Jennifer McDaniel

Jennifer McDaniel is a Registered Dietitian, Media Spokesperson, and co-author of Prevention's Mediterranean Table Cookbook. She and her team of Registered Dietitians aim to help their clients go further, make change last, and unlock their potential. She lives in St. Louis, MO with her husband, and three young sons. If you are interested in working with Jennifer, please visit our contact page.