The Healthy Lunchbox

I will be the first to admit packing a lunch five days a week for a finicky child has its challenges. You see, I was torn between needing her to eat a good lunch and being limited by what she considered “acceptable” food. Continuing to make her a sandwich was not the solution; in fact, it was a limitation. Just by changing the look of the sandwich, I could include a few of her favorite foods while sneaking in a few others. Despite the extra effort, the solution worked. Amen!

Creative Entrées:

Peanut Butter and Apple Roll-Ups

A sandwich is just a sandwich. There’s nothing exciting about it. But what if you spread peanut butter in a tortilla and placed four apple wedges down the center? Roll up, brush with melted butter and bake at 400 degrees for ten minutes. Yes, instantly, it’s something familiar, but with a twist. While you could add jelly to the ingredients, sometimes it becomes prudent to avoid foods made with high fructose corn syrup. Keep thinking. What else would your child love to discover rolled up in tortilla bread? Once cooled, wrap one end in parchment paper to contain any food from sliding out.

I tried serving it first on a Saturday afternoon. At first glance, my daughter loved seeing her food wrapped in parchment paper. She thought it was “restaurant quality” and “delicious.”


A fan of cheese and bread will love a variation of pizza, namely the quesadilla. A protein could be as simple as adding thin slices of chicken, turkey or ham. With compact freezer cubes in a variety of sizes, parents no longer have to worry about food spoiling. A secondary option is to freeze. As an experiment, determine how much time is needed for the quesadilla to thaw. (There’s nothing worse than a child who discovers her lunch is still frozen.)

A chicken and cheese quesadilla or slice of Hawaiian pizza is always consumed in my daughter’s lunch. I love it when she says, “Lunch was yummy, today!”

Bento Boxes

A Bento box comprises individual compartments for each food group. For example, it should have one dairy, one fruit, one vegetable, one protein, and some grain. You won’t forget about a food group using a Bento box. While it will be easy to occupy the dairy, vegetable, and fruit compartment, creative lunches can include favorite foods served the night before. Ask yourself, “What food did my child enjoy the most?” Put a spoonful of sweet potato inside a small pita pocket or slice up several strips of chicken with a sprinkling of shredded cheese. Voila! Sometimes, the proof of a great lunch is discovered once the lunch box is opened.


Have you ever noticed your children’s most requested pre-packaged snack contains high fructose corn syrup? While the convenience is appreciated, there are better options to consider.

  • Combine apple slices (sprinkled with lemon juice to avoid browning) with Nutella. “LunchBlox” makes the perfect-sized container for dipping sauces, and includes a kid-friendly lid.    
  • Imagine the creative ingredients you could hide in a single serving muffin. Include flavors your child knows and loves, such as blueberry or pumpkin, banana nut or sweet potato. Without the preservatives, these muffins may last three days, if not frozen.
  • What are your child’s favorite fruits or vegetables? With every lunch, include one favorite, such as carrot sticks, ants on a log made from celery, an orange, banana, or a small bunch of grapes.
  • Alongside a lidded container of guacamole, include crackers or carrot sticks.

Making Great Choices:

Lunch does not have to be a surprise each day. One of the best “teachable moments” is having your child assist in making snacks and preparing the main entrée. By talking about foods, ingredients, and how they’re packaged, children are learning how to distinguish between quality, real foods and poor fillers. With the creative, healthy choices now available, today’s parents can take pride in the simple act of watching their child walk into school holding a lunchbox.

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