Life's busy, especially for parents during the school year, so it's easy to get stuck in a rut when it comes to filling the lunch box. So, if you want to make your kids' lunches a little healthier without a whole lot of fuss, here are a few quick and easy ideas you can try with lunch box classics you're probably already packing.

Amp Up the PBJ

Sweet 'n Creamy Peanut Butter Apple Sandwich
Try this recipe: Sweet 'n Creamy Peanut Butter Apple Sandwich | Photo by lutzflcat
| Credit: lutzflcat

Here are three easy ideas that take that familiar lunch box sandwich in a little healthier direction:

  1. Ditch the jelly. Use fruit to add sweetness instead. Sliced bananas are a time-honored tradition, but be creative and mix it up with sliced apples, pictured above, diced strawberries or whole blueberries. Try peeled and sliced kiwis (jam-packed with Vitamin C). Any or all of those make for a Berry Good Sandwich.
  2. Sneak in some healthy crunch. Try recreating a deconstructed Ants on a Log between two slices of whole grain. Chopped celery complements the creamy butter and the chewy raisins.
  3. Change up the bread. Use a whole grain bread as a base for your sandwich. It's a small change, but it adds extra fiber and nutrition to every bite.

Lighten Up That Favorite Sammie

California Club Chicken Wraps
Try this recipe: California Club Chicken Wraps | Photo by Molly

Apply these easy-to-follow tips for cutting saturated fat and sugars from sandwiches.

  1. Just a little less cheese. Use lean protein such as chicken, turkey or ham, and trim the amount of cheese by one-third. Instead of two slices, for instance, go for one. The calorie savings add up.
  2. Veggies rule! Try hummus as a sandwich spread, topping with sliced cucumber, bell peppers, sprouts. This Veggie and Cilantro Hummus Sandwich recipe is a great starting point.
  3. Go for healthier carbs. Build sandwiches on the thin bread or rolls now found in most supermarket bakery departments, or roll fillings into whole wheat or veggie-based tortillas.

Healthy Up Hot Classics

Healthier Homemade Mac and Cheese
Try this recipe: Healthier Homemade Mac and Cheese | Photo by Allrecipes Magazine

Many kids crave the warming comfort of a hot meal, but what's dished up in the lunch line isn't always the best thing for them. These better-for-you creations fit neatly into an insulated container:

  1. Healthier Homemade Mac and Cheese is made with whole wheat noodles and low-fat milk and cheese. Whole grain bread crumbs add texture and crunch. You can toss in a few vegetables, too, if you like.
  2. Simple Turkey Chili cuts fat by using ground turkey instead of beef, and is made with kidney beans for fiber.
  3. Healthier Slow-Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup is an easy recipe you can pop into your slow cooker for dinner and pack up leftovers for lunch. Put the baked tortilla strips in a bag so your kid can add them to the soup come lunchtime.


Explore more healthy lunch recipes.