Coming up with school lunch ideas for kids that are healthy and appealing can be tricky, but it doesn’t have to be as hard as it sounds. Gluten-free and paleo meals don’t have to be limited to your own diet, they are also excellent options when looking for healthy lunch ideas for kids, but you may have to use some creativity in order to get your kids on board.
Because a paleo diet strictly includes only fresh foods – meats, fish, nuts, leafy greens, local veggies, and seeds – it can be somewhat difficult to come up with unique packable lunches that will keep until lunchtime. A good tip for getting your kids excited about a paleo diet is to focus on the presentation and packaging. A packable school lunch that looks fun to eat will have far more success than those that are lacking in creativity. Let’s face it, kids can be picky eaters and often lose interest in certain meals quickly, the main reason why it is essential to have an encyclopedia of healthy school lunch ideas for kids that won’t leave them bored and hungry.
From including your kids in the meal-planning process to ensure you are leaving them with food items they will actually eat and like, to getting creative with the presentation, to steering clear of the same ‘ol meals week after week, there are a plenty of things you can do to make these healthy school lunch ideas for kids as fun as they are healthy.
Here are ten paleo and gluten-free inspired lunch ideas for your kids that won’t have your kids turning up their nose every time they pull out that Spiderman lunchbox.
1. Zoodles and Meatballs
The fun isn’t all in the name of our first kid-friendly, paleo lunch idea. Zoodles, or noodles made from zucchini, will have your kids giggling while they shovel down this delicious healthy lunch option. In addition to zucchini noodles, this meal includes meatballs made from bulk Italian sausage. Give your kids their fruit quota for the day with some freshly made pineapple and strawberry kabobs. The great thing about this healthy lunch idea for kids is that it can all be made the night before, making your life even easier in the morning!
2. Roast Beef Roll-Ups and Mixed Berries
Pick up a package of organic or locally packaged roast beef, or get it freshly sliced at the counter, and a bunch of crunchy veggies to slice up for this easy and yummy meal. Veggie options include peppers, grape tomatoes, cucumbers, and carrots, but feel free to improvise! Use the meat as a wrapper and secure the roll with a sprig of chive, ensuring your meal won’t fall apart before lunchtime. Add a fun dipping sauce, such as guacamole, mango salsa, or dijon mustard, and a mixed berry medley to round out the meal.
3. Cucumber Sandwiches
Choose your kids’ favorite lunch meat to make these healthy, gluten-free mini cucumber sandwiches. In addition to the sandwiches, add apple slices with almond butter, cherry tomatoes, and pickles for a well-balanced, bite-sized healthy lunch option.
4. Hard-Boiled Eggs, Chicken Sausages, and Grapes
Hard-boiled eggs are an excellent source of protein, and an easy lunch item to make the night of, or even at the beginning of the week if you’re really motivated. Saute a handful of mini pre-cooked chicken apple sausages (just until they are warm) as an additional punch of protein. Throw in a clump of grapes and a handful of cherry tomatoes for a colorful and delicious school lunch.
5. Prosciutto-Wrapped Frittata Muffin
Don’t be scared by the fancy name, these muffins are not any more time consuming than any of our other healthy lunch ideas for kids. Make an egg muffin loaded with whatever veggies and/or protein you have handy, try cherry tomatoes, spinach, kale, bacon, ground beef, or mushrooms, depending on what your kids like. Wrapped in a crispy prosciutto shell, these little guys are not only filled with a healthy ingredients, but your kids will love being able to eat them with their hands! Include a sliced apple and your favorite nut butter to satisfy that sweet tooth.
6. Chicken Salad
Whip up a batch of chicken (or egg) salad with homemade paleo mayonnaise as yet another healthy lunch option your kids will love. Paleo mayonnaise is made from egg yolk, dijon mustard, lemon juice, white vinegar, and either macadamia nut or avocado oil, bookmark your favorite recipe for a measurement reference. Add grapes to your mixture as a fun bonus and a meal your kiddos will surely be asking for week after week.
7. PB & J
A healthier option to this classic and kid favorite is to use gluten-free bread (such as Rudi’s, Udi’s, or Canyon Bakehouse) and almond butter in place of traditional peanut butter. Pick up a jar of your favorite organic jam or jelly to make this go-to meal whenever you are in need of a fool-proof option. One way to include the necessary fruit serving is by adding some banana slices to your sandwiches, or slice up a pear, peach, or apple if your kids aren’t into that idea!
8. Leftover Grass-Fed Taco Salad
When Taco Tuesday comes around, cook up more meat than you’ll need for dinner and use as a salad topper for the kids’ lunch the next day. Seasoned grass-fed ground beef on a bed of spinach or mixed in with cooked asparagus will give a new twist to last night’s dinner, especially once you include some fun fruits and veggies on the side. Try nectarines, strawberries, plums, grapefruit, pickles, or an avocado to spice up this mid-week option.
9. Chicken Leg and Roasted Potatoes
Another great use of leftovers, pack your kiddos’ lunch box with a well-seasoned chicken drumstick and those yummy rosemary potatoes from a previous night’s dinner (you can substitute healthier sweet potatoes if your child will eat them). Roasted cauliflower, mangoes, and a mixed berry medley make for delicious sides that aren’t over used.
As a gluten-free option, pickup a package of gluten-free waffles (or make from scratch) and the lunch meat of your choice (avoid processed deli meats) as the main ingredients for these fun, two-hands-needed sandwiches. Include a sliced apple on the side. Note: Frozen waffle-wichs don’t qualify as a clean, healthy snack – just thought it was a fun picture!