Ham and cheese. Bologna. Tuna. Your kids want more “exciting” lunches (whatever that means), but you’re in a rut. What can you give them that won’t end up coming back home, warm and smushed? We turned to food pros to get their (fast, easy and healthy) lunch ideas so that everyone will be happy—and eat, gosh darn it!
Photo: Cooking With Elise
Cube deli meat, pieces of bread, grape tomatoes and veggies, and place on a skewer (just make sure to cut off the sharp tip for safety). Serve with a tiny side of mustard or whatever condiment your kid loves.
Cool buy: CuteZCute Mini Condiment Mayo Container (set of 4 for $5.25 at Amazon.com).
Recipe courtesy of CookingWithElise.com
Photo: Cheryl Style
Peanut Butter and Jelly Puffs
Elevate PB&J to the next level with these yummy puffs. They’re great for kids who eat breakfast on the go. Just bake, let them cool, then pack for lunch.
Cool buy: Keep food smush-free in this Green Sprouts by i play. Alligator On Safari Bento Lunch Box ($7.99 at Kohl’s).
Recipe courtesy of CherylStyle.com
Photo: Eating Made Easy
Waffles + peanut butter + banana = an awesome meal anytime of day.
Cool buy: The reusable cotton LunchSkins Pears Sandwich Bag ($8.95 at Crate & Barrel) will save money—and the environment.
Recipe courtesy of Eating Made Easy
Photo: Jessica Spengler/FlickrWrap lettuce, tomatoes and guacamole in a whole wheat tortilla for a lunch that’s delicious and easy to eat.
Tortilla Sandwich Wraps
Fill tortillas with anything from peanut butter and jelly to ham and cheese, or try hummus and cut-up veggies, cream cheese and cucumbers. They’re easy to transport, hold and eat.
Photo: My Fit Foods
Grazers will love having their own mini picnic in the cafeteria with small portions of almonds, dried cranberries, cheese, apple slices and crackers.
Cool buy: Pack the perfectly sized portions in a colorful Spencer Bento Box Container ($16.50 at Pottery Barn Kids)
Recipe courtesy of My Fit Foods
Photo: Food Network
10-Minute Tomato Soup
Just add a cheese sandwich and voilà, you’ve got the perfect lunch—in 10 minutes. Seriously.
Cool buy: The Thermos Foogo 10-Ounce Leak-Proof Food Jar ($17.99 at Bed Bath and Beyond) keeps food hot for five hours.
Recipe courtesy of Food Network
Photo: The Grocery Game
Peter Rabbit Pizza
Pack rice cakes, finely chopped veggies, tuna and grated carrots with a little lemon Dijon dressing so they can assemble their own healthy lunch easily.
Cool buy: Easylunchboxes 3-Compartment Bento Lunch Box Containers (set of four for $13.95 at Amazon.com).
Suggestion courtesy of The Grocery Game
Photo: Sharon Palmer
Whole-Grain Tortilla Wrap
Add tahini, nut seed butter, sprouts, shredded carrots and raisins to a whole-grain tortilla for a flavorful and filling lunch.
Cool buy: Sharon Palmer’s new book, Plant-Powered for Life: Eat Your Way to Lasting Health With 52 Simple Steps and 125 Delicious Recipes ($13.39 at Books-a-Million), has ideas to get the whole family eating more fruits and vegetables.
Suggestion courtesy of dietitian Sharon Palmer
Photo: Jesa Henneberry
Tahini Caramel Fruit Dip
Some kids just don’t like sandwiches. Don’t sweat it. Dips with fresh fruit or veggies are a great substitution.
¼ cup unsalted tahini
½ cup unsweetened applesauce
3 pitted Medjool dates
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch sea salt
1–2 tablespoons water to thin if necessary
Place in the bowl of a food processor and blend until smooth, adding water to thin to desired consistency. Serve with your child’s favorite cut-up fresh fruit.
Cool buy: Keep dips from touching fruit until it’s ready to eat with a Fit & Fresh Fruit And Veggie Bowl ($9.99 from Bed Bath & Beyond) or Fit & Fresh Kid’s Container Set With Removable Ice Packs ($14.99 at Bed Bath & Beyond).
Recipe courtesy of private chef Jesa Henneberry
Great Sides (Beyond Chips and Gummies)
RW Garcia’s Tortatos
Half-potato chip, half-corn chip, Tortatos have 25 percent less fat than traditional potato chips. They’re made with stone-ground, non-GMO corn, contain no additives or preservatives and are gluten-free.
Stoneridge Orchards Cherries Dipped in Greek Yogurt
All of Stoneridge Orchards’ products are free from artificial colors, flavors, hydrogenated oils and sulfites.
Use this salty snack as the basis for any number of combinations: hummus, peanut butter or light sour cream.
Kohl’s: Through August 27, enjoy 15% off sitewide.
Crate & Barrel: Save up to 60% on select summer clearance items.
Pottery Barn Kids: Free shipping on all backpacks and lunch bags.
Bed Bath & Beyond: Get up to 75% off clearance items plus free shipping on purchases of $50 or more.
Amazon.com: Take 20% off kids’ clothing and shoes when you spend $50 or more.