By Catherine McCord

How to Make Easy & Healthy School Lunches for Your Kids: Tips & Recipes from

  |  Health Advice & Tips  

Here are a few tips on how to give your kids healthy (and economical!) school lunches. Easy recipes included from!

two young girls eating lunch at school

Your kids' idea of back-to-school time: old friends, new clothes, bright book bags, freshly sharpened pencils, pristine notebooks, and growing up (what a difference the next grade year makes!). Your idea of what's around the corner: approximately 180 days of making school lunch!

Coming up with a diverse array of nutritious foods to feed our little ones can feel overwhelming. Plenty of moms believe they have no choice but to buy the popular, prepackaged school lunch snack foods they likely know aren't great choices, but given the lack of time and a tight budget are often an unavoidable last resort.

There's no reason that money or time should get in the way of making sure our kids head off to school with good stuff in their lunch boxes. With just a bit of planning ahead and a few easy tips at your disposal, packing an economical, well-balanced school lunch can actually be a breeze. 


Eat This, Not That

  • Rather than packaged dips or those cheese 'n' cracker combo packs filled with a host of ingredients you probably can't pronounce, try making some hummus (this recipe, which uses beets to add vitamins-plus a vibrant color-is below). It will give your kids a protein boost and you can serve it alongside carrot or celery sticks, healthy pita chips, or whole grain crackers.

  • Fruit roll-ups may seem like a healthy choice but look on the side of the box of most store brands and you'll find additives, preservatives, and dyes that do a body anything but good. Instead, try sending your kids off with sliced fresh fruit or berries, applesauce, or even homemade strawberry fruit leather. My recipe is super-easy to make and lasts for weeks (unless your kids finish it all before then)!

  • Sweet treats are okay in moderation, but I've seen things in kids' lunch boxes that scare me. Pudding snack packs can look enticing on supermarket shelves, but they're also laden with ingredients none of us need to be consuming. The same goes for most store-bought cookies. Try making your own naturally sweet versions of these goodies like Tofu Chocolate Pudding or oatmeal raisin cookies. One of the great things about homemade cookies prepared with wholesome ingredients is that you can freeze the cookies before you bake them, so when you're ready to use them you just take out what you need.

  • Potato Chips are an inexpensive way to fill up a lunch box, but they also fill up small bellies with empty calories. Instead, try baking delicious homemade sweet potato, carrot, or even kale chips. They're crispy, delicious, and good for you, too.


Food for Thought...

chocolate tofu puddingRed Beet and White Bean Hummus Recipe

Strawberr-Wee Fruit Leather Recipe

Chocolate Tofu Pudding Recipe

Homemade Kale Chips

Get a few more time- & money-saving ideas

Catherine McCord from

Catherine McCord, mom to Kenya (4) and Chloe (2), posts her own quick, nutritious recipes daily at her acclaimed blog The ease of her recipes, which rely on fresh but minimal ingredients, make her blog a go-to destination for busy parents who want to make the most of their time and still feed their family well.



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