Healthy School Lunches & Snacks

Make school lunches healthy and fun with these easy brown bag lunch ideas. Transform classic lunches, from tuna to PB&J to turkey and cheese, into healthier recipes. Kids will also love the healthy snack ideas that will keep them full throughout the day.

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Paula Hible

The simplest and healthiest foods stay extra-yummy when they're tucked inside individual little compartments. That's the idea behind Bentology, the company that sells these cute plastic sets. We filled the containers with a protein, some fruit, a vegetable, and a small treat -- all in perfect-size portions for kids 5 to 8.

All Dressed Up

* 1 cup bow-tie pasta salad with veggies
* 1 cup baby greens salad with 2 tablespoons low-fat dressing
* 3/4 cup watermelon
* 2 fig cookies

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Catch of the Day

Paula Hible

Catch of the Day

Fish-shaped tuna sandwich with lettuce on whole wheat bread

10 baby carrots with 2 tablespoons low-fat ranch dip

Small plum

1/4 cup whole-grain Goldfish crackers

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Pretzel Kabobs

Paula Hible

Pretzel Kabobs

  • Ham, turkey, and cheese rolled up together, sliced, and skewered with pretzel sticks
  • 1/2 cup mandarin oranges
  • 1/2 cup shelled edamame
  • 1 container (4 ounces) fat-free chocolate pudding
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Healthy Lunch Ideas for Kids

Check out our tips for simple ways to upgrade your child's sandwiches.

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Early Riser

Paula Hible

Early Riser

Sliced hard-boiled egg and 2 mini whole-grain waffles

Bell-pepper strips

1 sliced kiwi fruit mixed with a few blackberries

Mini corn muffin

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Finger Food

Paula Hible

Finger Food

String cheese and a handful of whole wheat crackers

1 cup broccoli and cauliflower florets with 2 tablespoons light raspberry dressing

1/2 cup blueberries

Slice of banana bread

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Fiesta!

Paula Hible

Fiesta!

  • 1 cup bean salad
  • 1/2 cup melon wedges
  • Handful of whole-grain tortilla chips with 2 tablespoons salsa
  • 8 cubes of reduced-fat cheddar cheese
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How to Choose a Lunchbox

With so many lunch boxes on the market it can be hard to know what to buy. In this video we provide the pros and cons of many popular options.

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Hole New PB&J

Paula Hible

Hole New PB&J

  • Peanut butter and jelly on a whole wheat mini bagel
  • 3/4 cup cherry tomatoes with 2 tablespoons low-fat Caesar dressing
  • 1/2 cup pineapple chunks
  • 4 mini oatmeal cookies
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Pizza Party

Paula Hible

Pizza Party

  • 1 slice leftover cold veggie pizza cut into squares
  • 3/4 cup cucumber moons with 2 tablespoons hummus
  • 1/2 cup purple grapes
  • 1/2 cup popcorn
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Power Pita

Paula Hible

Power Pita

2 mini whole wheat pita pockets with grilled-chicken strips and veggies

3/4 cup low-fat vanilla yogurt with sliced strawberries

1/2 cup sugar snap peas

8 animal crackers

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Healthy Snacks: Why Kids Need to Snack

Snacking is important for active kids. Find out why and get easy ideas for healthy, appealing snacks.

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After-School Snack Mixes: Sesame Sticks

Paula Hible

After-School Snack Mixes: Sesame Sticks

These creative combos add up to one-of-a-kind after-school treats.

Sesame sticks + chopped cereal-nut bars + dried pineapple

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After-School Snack Mixes: Pita Chips

Paula Hible

After-School Snack Mixes: Pita Chips

Mini pita chips + soy nuts + mini chocolate chips

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After-School Snack Mixes: Mini Pretzels

Paula Hible

After-School Snack Mixes: Mini Pretzels

Mini pretzels twists + cashews + dried cranberries

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After-School Snack Mixes: Low-Fat Granola

Paula Hible

After-School Snack Mixes: Low-Fat Granola

Low-fat granola + sunflower seeds + dried apricots

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After-School Snack Mixes: Dried Papaya

Paula Hible

After-School Snack Mixes: Dried Papaya

Dried papaya + whole-grain cereal + golden raisins

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After-School Snack Mixes: Almonds

Paula Hible

After-School Snack Mixes: Almonds

Almonds + M&M's + dried mango

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Best New Snacks for School: TrueNorth Peanut Clusters

Courtesy of TrueNorth Snacks

Best New Snacks for School: TrueNorth Peanut Clusters

Round out your kid's lunch with healthy, ready-to-go products.

These nuggets of freshly roasted nuts are ideal for slow eaters. Six pieces contain 170 calories and 5 grams of protein ($3.50 for a 5-1/2-ounce bag).

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Lunch Monitor: What Are Kids Throwing Away?

Kids throw away over $1 billion of school lunch food every year. Find out what goes into the trash.

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Best New Snacks for School: Bachman The Puzzle Pretzels

Courtesy of Backman Snax

Best New Snacks for School: Bachman The Puzzle Pretzels

Puzzle-shaped pretzels come in large and individual-size bags ($17 for six 12-ounce bags).

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Best New Snacks for School: Lundberg Family Farms Baked Rice with a Twist

Courtesy of Lundberg Family Farms

Best New Snacks for School: Lundberg Family Farms Baked Rice with a Twist

These crunchy twists in child-friendly flavors like white cheddar and ranch are made from brown rice and packed with whole grains ($3 for a 4-1/2-ounce bag).

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Best New Snacks for School: Back to Nature Granola to Go

Courtesy of Back to Nature Foods

Best New Snacks for School: Back to Nature Granola to Go

Toss a mini bag of this granola -- along with a container of yogurt and a piece of fruit -- into your child's lunchbox. Kids will probably like the honey-almond variety the best ($4 for five 1-1/2-ounce bags).