20 Easy and Healthy Lunch Box Ideas for Kids - Delicious mostly "real food" lunch box ideas that your kids will actually eat!

20 Easy and Healthy Lunch Box Ideas That Kids Will Love

By Rachel Tiemeyer
August 28, 2016
Delicious mostly "real food" lunch box ideas that your kids will actually eat and are a snap to put together!

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As a big proponent of feeding my family mostly “real food”, making kid lunches for all three of my kids on school nights is just part of our routine.


But, it can also be a LOT of work to keep up with on top of sports schedules, homework, making dinner, and housework in the evenings! So, over the years, I’ve come up with a regular rotation of 20 easy, healthy lunch box options that my kids love.

Where Do You Buy Ingredients for Healthy Lunches?

I buy most of the ingredients or convenience items listed below each week at Hy-Vee, so we can have them on hand for lunches. The products I recommend below are ones that I feel have a higher nutritional value and/or avoid many of the processed ingredients and the yucky stuff (trans fats, HFCS, additives, etc) that often come in pre-packaged foods.

What Kind of Lunch Box or Bento Box Should I Buy?

We’ve curated some of the best lunch boxes and Bento boxes on Amazon to make lunch prep easy. From your smallest or your biggest eaters, we found boxes that work for all ages and genders.

kid lunch boxes and bento boxes

The Bento boxes, especially, have been a big game changer for our family, when it comes to making lunch packing simple and healthy. Even my kids can pack their own healthy lunches now.

20 Easy and Healthy Lunch Box Ideas That Kids Will Love…

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1 – Make-Your-Own Lunchable

Making your own lunchable is so easy that your kids can do it. Plus, it’s much healthier when you control the components that go in. Here’s all your need to include in your pack or one of our recommended Bento Boxes.

Summer Sausage

Hy-Vee carries this great Organic Uncured Beef Summer Sausage by Organic Prairie that my kids love and I feel better about serving them. Thin slice some of this sausage to include.

summer sausage

Uncured Turkey Pepperoni

Another meat option that works for homemade lunchables are these Applegate Uncured Turkey Pepperonis for an easy lunchable topper. They are delicious and free from preservatives!


Cheese Slices

Save money and buy a block of cheese to slice up like Kraft Colby Cheese Brick.


Or buy pre-sliced cheese and cut it into squares, like the Hy-Vee Colby Jack Cheese Slices or Provolone Cheese Slices.



I honestly like Triscuits the best. They are affordable, whole grain, and only contain 3 ingredients. They make for a solid cracker sandwich foundation, too.


2 – Homemade Yogurt Parfaits

I send Homemade Yogurt Parfaits often with my kids. You can easily divide the ingredients in a stainless steel container like this one (featured above) or use a medium-sized glass container with lid. Here’s how we make ours at night ahead of time.

Layer 1

In my glass container, I fill the bottom with our favorite Chobani Greek Vanilla Yogurt. I usually buy the large container to save money, but you can certainly buy the individual servings for convenience!


Layer 2

I add a layer of fresh or frozen blueberries and fresh or frozen sliced strawberries.

Layer 3

I top the fruit with granola lastly. There are so many great options in store aisles, if you don’t want to make your own. One thing to watch out for is how much sugar packaged granola contains. Some that are a bit lower in sugar are:

Hy-Vee Granola


Bear Naked Vanilla Almond Fit Granola


3 – Turkey (or Ham) and Cheese on Wheat Bread

Here are the components I use:

Applegate Naturals Roasted Turkey Breast or Uncured Black Forest Ham


Hy-Vee Colby Jack Cheese Slices or Provolone Cheese Slices


Wholesome Harvest Wheat Bread (or Oatmeal or Nine Grain)


4 – Tomato Soup

My kids love when I make a big batch of Tomato Bisque, top it with a little grated Parmesan, and send it in their stainless steel BPA-free thermos. And I love knowing that they are getting at least a few servings of vegetables just from the soup alone. But, if you don’t have time to make your own, there are some really great organic options at Hy-Vee. My favorite is this one:

Amy’s Organic Cream of Tomato Soup


5 – Whole Wheat Mac and Cheese

I like to make a large portion of mac and cheese for dinner one night and send all the kids with leftovers the next day in their thermoses. It’s always a hit! If you don’t have time to make our delicious Homemade Mac and Cheese with Sneaky Sweet Potato, try this one in the HealthMarket section at Hy-Vee:

Organic Whole Wheat Shells & White Cheddar


6 – Fruit Pizza Roll-Up

My daughter often requests this in her lunch. I do recommend to make this the morning of or to leave off the bananas if making ahead.

Fruit Pizza Roll-Ups recipe: An easy lunch for kids!

Some great wraps for this are…

Tumaro’s Low Carb Multigrain Wraps


7 – Make-Ahead Lunch Wraps

Make Ahead Lunch Wraps

I love this lunchbox option, because you can make a bunch ahead of time and freeze them. They are so easy to throw together and wrap individually in foil. To send in the lunch, thaw overnight in the fridge and in the morning, just heat them in foil in a 350 degree oven for about 10-15 minutes (until very hot) and wrap in a kitchen towel to keep it insulated in the lunch box. Below is all you need to fill up this healthy, substantial wrap. Feel free to leave out any ingredients your kids don’t like.

Whole Wheat Wrap

I love this healthier soft wrap, which I mentioned above…

Tumaro’s Low Carb Multigrain Wraps


Kidney or Black Beans

Go for canned beans that are in a BPA-free can like…

Eden Organics Kidney Beans or Eden Organic Black Beans

kidney beans

Shredded Cheddar Cheese

Look for the one that’s on sale or shred your own cheese to save money.



Just grab your favorite, but be sure to read the ingredients to avoid preservatives and additives. Hy-Vee Organic Salsa is a good choice.


Cooked Brown Rice

I just cook up some Hy-Vee Instant Brown Rice.


8 – Homemade Peanut Butter Crackers

You can easily skip the packaged cracker packs and make your own. I just have my kids make these at night. Here are our favorite products to get the job done:

Back to Nature Classic Round Crackers

It’s hard to find a truly healthy cracker at the store that tastes good, so I settle for this delicious one with no preservatives, additives, or trans fat.


Peanut Butter or Almond Butter

Look for organic or just peanut butter that only has peanuts in it. You can always grind your own peanut butter at Hy-Vee or my kids like this brand (but it does have some added sugar):

peanut butter

9 – Turkey and Cheese Roll-Ups


This lunch is so easy to make. Just spread some cream cheese on a tortilla and add turkey slices. Roll up and slice into “sushi rolls” like the picture above. They fit nicely in a Bento Box. Like I mentioned a few times already, I really love Tumaro’s Multigrain Wraps and Applegate Naturals Roasted Turkey Breast.

10 – Cereal, Milk, and Fruit

Yep, you read that right. Occasionally when I am in a huge hurry or out of options, I send a well-sealed thermos with milk, a healthier dry cereal in a medium-sized glass bowl with lid, and a spoon so the kids can pour the milk over it. Add in some fresh blueberries or strawberry slices to put on top and it’s actually not that bad of a lunch…and my kids think I’m the bomb. Here are some of our favorite healthier (not perfect, but at least a little healthier than most) cereals:

Nature’s Path Heritage Flakes


Kashi Autumn Wheat Cereal


Multigrain Cheerios 

I know these aren’t perfect but at least they have some whole grains and aren’t too sugary.


11 – Sugar Snap Peas

I don’t know about you, but finding vegetable options to go in the lunch box isn’t easy. But, my kids do down these sweet, crunchy sugar snap peas. I like that they come in a convenient, pre-washed pack in the produce section.


12 – Petite Baby Carrots with Hummus

Another favorite vegetable of kids are carrots, but my kiddos particularly love the petite baby carrots with a little hummus for dipping.


It’s hard to beat the flavor of Hy-Vee’s Original Hummus in my mind, but if you want a completely whole food version of hummus you can always make your own.


13 –  Finger Food Fruit

There are a few no-brainer fresh fruits to include in the lunchbox, and fresh is always a better choice than the little fruit cocktail cups. Great grab-and-go fruits are Clementines (aka Cuties) or Apples (Fuji or Honey Crisp are the only ones that are worth it to us!), because other than rinsing them off, all you have to do is toss them in the lunch box.


GrapesBlueberries, and Strawberries are another lunchbox favorite, because they are easy to eat with your hands.

15 – Unsweetened Apple Sauce

Skip the dessert and offer apple sauce as a sweet treat, especially the unsweetened kind to avoid more sugar and additives. You can buy it in bulk, like the Hy-Vee UnSweetened Apple Sauce, or in pre-portioned containers, like the Musselman’s Unsweetened Natural Apple Sauce. I prefer to save money and dish them out in advance into 1 cup glass containers. It’s so easy and reduces waste.


16 – String Cheese

What kid doesn’t like playing with their food? That’s what makes string cheese so fun. Plus, the Sargento Snacks String Cheese has no additives or food dye and tastes great! I love throwing these in lunch boxes for a quick protein-rich addition to the meal.

string cheese

17 – Trail Mix

There are several excellent pre-made trail mixes in store at Hy-Vee to choose from. A few recommendations:

Back to Nature Harvest Blend Trail Mix (or other varieties) 


Hy-Vee Dark Chocolate Cranberry Mix (or other varieties)


However, it’s so easy to mix up your own nutritious and tasty trail mix according to what your kids like. Here are some of our favorites to include in a homemade trail mix:

Girardelli Dark Chocolate Chips


Lighty Salted Peanuts


Organic Raisins


Sunflower Seeds


18 – Granola Bars

Not all store-bought granola bars are created equal. Many are actually loaded with as much sugar and additives as a candy bar…some are even worse. So, I look for granola bars that have all recognizable ingredients and are lower in sugar. Here are a few of our favorites:

Kashi Dark Mocha Almond Chewy Granola Bars


KIND Healthy Grains Oats and Honey Bars


19 – Hard Boiled Eggs

Sometimes I’ll boil and peel half a dozen eggs at the beginning of the week and stick one or two in a kids’ lunch. Use our Instant Pot Method for the easiest boiled eggs ever! Eggs are a great source of protein and full of so many other important vitamins and minerals–almost the perfect brain food! Hy-Vee carries a great selection of local eggs in the HealthMarket.

20 – Popcorn


Popcorn is full of fiber and a much better side option than chips in a lunchbox. Our family’s favorite store-bought pre-popped corn is Skinny Pop Naturally Sweet Popcorn. But, it’s hard to beat the taste and price of this Homemade Popcorn recipe. Just use your favorite popping kernels (here are mine), make a big batch, and store in an air-tight container for up to three days. 

Now it’s your turn! What do your kids love in their lunchbox?

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