If I get stressed, bored or hormonal, I have a built in mechanism that seeks out packaged foods.

Food manufacturers know this, and are happy to fill my needs (damn you, teddi bear shaped graham crackers!).

While I can talk myself out of bad decisions (most of the time), my two and a half year old daughter can’t.

Cheddar bunnies, mini-crackers, snack bars and cheese-filled anything are her four favorite food groups.

Feeding a toddler healthy food is no joke, my friends.

healthy school lunch

Schools and birthday parties do not make it any easier for us parents trying to help our kids make good food choices. While I love giving my daughter treats every now and then, I don’t always like the cupcakes and popsicles that seem to lurk around every corner and are the “go-to” snack at pre-school.

There was actually a Coca-Cola truck parked outside our local elementary school this morning! Can someone PLEASE tell me what in the world a soda company is doing in an elementary school?!

Life is full of snacks and sugary treats just waiting to land in our laps. I am no stranger to their pull – remember the frosted animal cracker incident? – and am by no means 100% healthy all the time. But I do want to teach my daughter the difference between foods that nourish and foods that are just an occasional treat.

My daughter only goes to school two half days a week. I pack a snack and meal for her each of those days, following the school requirements of no warming or refrigerating necessary and no nuts. I’m lucky I’m only dealing with those two days for now. My sister-in-law packs snacks and meals for two kids every day of the week!

Which led me to this post.

I figure many of you are in the same boat, needing healthy school lunch ideas for your kids. Whether you are parents or not, you are most likely packing meals and/or snacks for yourselves or your little ones during the week. You want something healthy that is also tasty. You need it to be somewhat portable and clean, especially if you have a 28 month old who tends to put food in her hair (anyone else or is that just me?). You also most likely have either school food rules or your own food guidelines you try to follow.

In honor of back to school and those of you nodding your head because you understand the true anxiety packing daily food can bring, I thought I would share my favorite things to pack for school snacks and lunches.

These are all items that work great for my young daughter, and for my grown husband and I as well!

I’ve also included a few links at the bottom for some additional ideas. It takes a village, and I am thankful for all the ideas I can get! (If you have any, please share them in the comments below!)

Healthy School Snacks and Lunches for Kids (and Adults!)

Typical lunch for my daughter (we use bento style food containers):

Sandwich on whole wheat bread with sunflower seed butter and homemade chia seed jam (I have started blending in raw spinach or kale with the jam to add some greens)

Whole wheat wrap with hummus, organic turkey, organic cheese, baked sweet potato (I love spreading baked sweet potato on any sandwich or wrap for some veggie power)

Whole wheat spinach pancakes – you can cut one in half and spread it with nut butter or sunflower seed butter for a fun sandwich alternative

Fruit – I recommend fruit that doesn’t require any peeling and is fairly resilient. We love grapes, apple slices, blueberries and peeled mandarin oranges.

Snacks:

flourless chocolate zucchini muffins

chocolate zucchini muffins
air popped plain popcorn
raisins
gluten free zucchini muffins 
freeze dried fruit
3 ingredient pancakes
half hard boiled egg
vegan beet banana bread
string cheese
more fresh fruit

More Amazing Links

Gina has a 3 1/2 year old (and another on the way!) and has some amazing ideas for school lunches and snacks. I love the idea of using a thermos for soups and warm items once my daughter is old enough to handle a thermos and spoon. And I’m definitely stealing the cookie cutter idea!

Giselle has an adorable boy and I loved her post about healthy breakfasts on a busy school or work morning. The sweet cinnamon scramble was awesome! It sounds strange, but you’ve got to try it.

Super Healthy Kids is a phenomenal website packed with healthy recipes for kids and toddlers. Their ideas always blow me away. I especially loved this post about 15 healthy after school snacks.

Share Your Thoughts!