For the last twenty days, I’ve been taking pictures of every lunch I’ve served to my kids. I wanted to share how easy it can be to serve up “real food” lunches that kids will enjoy. These are all real lunches and, by that, I mean they are easy, simple, and realistic lunches that anyone can throw together quickly. And that’s exactly what I do! Literally, almost every day, I just serve whatever I can find from the refrigerator or pantry. It works for us. These aren’t fancy lunches and they’re all put together without much thought or planning. I meal plan for my dinners, but not lunch (or breakfast, for that matter). Read below to find out what I served my three kids for lunch over the course of the last twenty days!
I know we all tend to get in ‘lunch ruts’ sometimes and don’t know what to feed our kids. There is nothing overly unique in this list of lunches, but maybe you’ll find some new ideas or remember some old ideas that you had forgotten about! I don’t put much focus on the elements of each lunch: i.e. protein, grains, dairy, veggies, and fruit. I feel like I do a pretty good job of serving items from all food groups, so my assumption is that by the end of the week, it all balances out.
Many of these lunches could also easily be packed into school lunch boxes, too (some might require a thermos). I know I’ll probably regret saying this, but I’m actually looking forward to packing my daughter’s lunch when she starts Kindergarten next year! I think it will be a fun challenge to come up with foods that she enjoys and looks forward to eating…especially because I know it won’t be long before she’s asking why she doesn’t buy school lunches like some of her friends!!
So, here they are…
20 Real Food Lunch Ideas for Kids:
Note: Many of the foods below are organic. Also…keep in mind that these pictures are almost always just the first serving. My kids are BIG eaters for their age and usually ask for seconds (and thirds)!! As long as they finish eat item on their plate, I’m happy to give them more until they’re content.
- String cheese, nitrate-free turkey slices, oranges, cucumbers, bell peppers
- Grilled cheese sandwich, sliced celery, raspberries
- Toast with butter, string cheese, strawberries, apple slices, bell peppers
- Nitrate-free turkey slices, clementine, raw cashews, bell peppers
- ABC muffin, apple slices, cheese, cucumbers
- Leftover shredded chicken, mustard, applesauce with cinnamon, celery, whole wheat tortilla with melted cheese (“cheesy roll-up”)
- “Ants on a log” (celery with natural peanut butter and raisins), clementine, dry roasted peanuts and raw pumpkin seeds, bell peppers
- Non-GMO pretzels from Whole Foods, cheese, celery, bell peppers, clementine
- Scrambled eggs, leftover broccoli, toast with butter, clementine
- Apple chocolate chip granola bar, celery, clementine, dry roasted peanuts, blackberries
- Celery and carrots to dip in peanut butter, Annie’s cheddar bunnies, bell peppers
- Peanut butter and raw honey on my homemade bread, celery, bell peppers, cucumbers, carrots
- Oatmeal with maple syrup, cinnamon, & raisins, apple slices, celery, bell peppers, cucumbers
- Greek yogurt with homemade granola, apple slices, carrots
- Baked potato with a little butter and melted cheese, apple slices, carrots, clementine
- Air-popped popcorn with butter and salt, apples, carrots, clementine
- Peanut butter & jam sandwich on homemade bread, mango, leftover corn, clementine
- Peanut butter & raw honey on homemade bread, banana, carrots, cheese slices
- Apple cinnamon waffles with maple syrup and a banana
- Whole wheat tortilla with melted cheese, leftover taco-seasoned (grass-fed) ground beef, & chopped tomatoes, shredded cheese, carrots, applesauce with cinnamon
So, there you have it! Twenty very simple lunch ideas…most of which were thrown together at the last minute without any prior thought. Sometimes I eat the same thing as the kids, sometimes I eat leftovers from the previous night’s dinner, and sometimes I make a variation of what the kids are eating. I keep all of our lunches very easy and uncomplicated.
My tips for lunchtime success:
- Serve small portions of each item to start. When kids are hungry, they’re more likely to eat the healthier foods at which they might usually turn up their noses.
- I don’t allow my kids to have seconds of anything unless they’ve finished their entire plate. I think this teaches kids not to be wasteful, as well as making sure they eat a good balance of foods each day. (Note: I never make my kids eat something if they don’t want to. I just don’t allow seconds until they do. And they can be finished eating at any point in the meal if they say they’re done. However, if they hardly eat anything, I tell them they can’t have a snack later if they don’t eat at least a little more. That almost always gets them to focus on the meal again…instead of wanting to get down early to play.)
- Cut up raw veggies and fruit for every lunch. Super simple and I’m always surprised at what my kids will eat…simply by putting it in front of them and walking away!
- If I’m serving a couple vegetables that I know my daughter isn’t as crazy about, I let her pick what she would like. If I say, “Do you want carrots?,” she’ll usually say no. However, if I ask her, “Do you want carrots or peppers?,” then she’ll usually say she wants carrots. When I place the carrots in front of her, she knows that she requested them and is more likely to eat them. I love how that can work to my advantage! 🙂
- Encourage kids to eat their crust, whether it be from a sandwich or pizza. My kids always eat their crust and actually wouldn’t even consider not eating it (unless they were full and it was their second or third helping). Again, we don’t like our kids to be wasteful, so they’ve never gotten another half of a sandwich or a second slice of pizza unless they ate ALL of the first one. This is just a ‘kid pet-peeve’ of mine and I wanted to share my thoughts on the subject. Kids will eat their crust if you set that precedent early on in the feeding ‘game!’
So, what do you think? Do you feed your kids ‘random’ lunches like this or do you meal plan lunches? I find that it’s easiest and least stressful for me to “wing” my lunches, but plan out my dinners. Again, this it what works for our family!
Make sure to Follow me on Facebook to see what else I serve my kids for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I’m always sharing EASY and kid-approved ideas there! And make sure to checkout my first roundup of SCHOOL LUNCHBOX ideas here: Real Food School Lunchbox Ideas and my second one here: Real Food School Lunchbox Ideas: Round 2.