Schools are starting all across the country this month and into the next, which has a lot of us parents scrambling to get lunches packed for our kids every morning. I don’t know about you, but it’s important to me that my kids eat healthy food that will stick with them throughout the day. That’s why I put together this list of healthy lunch box ideas to make things easier.
Do Kids Need To Be Low Carb?
Ok, first off let’s talk about kids and low carb eating, since this is a list of lower carb healthy lunch box ideas.
Kids do not need to be on a ketogenic diet (unless that’s prescribed by a doctor to treat specific diseases, like epilepsy) but I believe even kids can benefit from lowering their overall carbohydrate intake.
Why? Because generally speaking our society has gotten really far away from eating real food and on the whole we consume exponentially more sugar now than we’ve ever consumed before.
We know that carbohydrates spike insulin, and we know that chronically high insulin is what causes insulin resistance. Add to that the knowledge that sugar and refined oils are highly inflammatory, and that inflammation is a direct cause of disease, it’s very important to me to try to get my kids to eat healthier.
Also: stable blood sugar and increased satiety (a direct result of eating fewer carbs, adequate protein, and healthy fats) are great for improving focus throughout the school day.
That being said, I think it’s also important not to give my kids a weird complex about food. I don’t want to be that mom who slaps food out of their hands at a party because it’s “not healthy.” So balance is key for me.
That’s why I put together lunch ideas that my kids will actually like (and won’t complain about) that are also full of protein and healthy fats with no added sugar.
Find out more about kids and low carb eating here.
Healthy Lunch Box Ideas
Let’s take a look at the actual lunches, shall we?
If you follow me on Instagram, you know that sometimes I am that parent who makes ridiculously cute lunches for my kids. But I do this maybe three times a year. The rest of the time I focus on having stuff I can make ahead and letting them put their own lunches together. #teammeanmom
It’s my goal to make school lunches that are easy and not full of lots of expensive, exotic ingredients. Oh, and ones my kids will eat.
I’ve presented all of these lunch ideas in these lunch boxes, which is what we use on a daily basis. We’ve had these for three years and they’ve held up exceedingly well, with no damage at all.
One of my kids’ favorite foods for lunch are sandwiches. Since typical bread is high in carbs, a substitute here is called for. However, most low carb breads are not that great if I’m perfectly honest. And trying to get a picky kid to switch the regular bread they’re used to for a low carb alternative? Nice try.
However, a waffle sandwich is super exciting and feels like a treat rather than a mediocre alternative. I use my Belgian Waffle recipe and cook it in this mini waffle maker. The best part is, for making these mini waffles I skip beating the egg whites separately and just throw it all in the blender.
Then I just slapped some PB&J on two waffles to make a sandwich. Our school allows for nuts, but I know some don’t. You can still make this with Sunbutter if that’s a rule where you are.
For best results, use some no-sugar-added jam or make your own if that’s your thing.
If you’d like to pull ahead as their favorite parent, use chocolate nut butter instead of peanut butter.
These waffles freeze really well and are great for both waffle sandwiches and quick weekday breakfasts. Just pop them in the toaster to reheat.
For a low carb bread option my kids actually like, check out this low carb foccacia recipe.
I got these these super cute silicone square cupcake liners and they’re perfect for making extra compartments for lunch items.
This is especially great for pickier kids as it gives more options and food doesn’t have to touch if that’s important to your little one.
Here I’ve put together meat sticks (I like chomps), string cheese, baby carrots, cucumbers, and apple slices. I also threw in some toasted coconut and sugar-free chocolate chip as a treat.
These are examples of things my kids like– cucumbers and carrots are the favorite veggies here, which is why you’ll see them make several appearances. However, you can swap out any veggies your kids will eat (think celery, peppers, tomatoes, snap peas, etc.) and your kids’ favorite proteins.
Mini Cheese Loaf
This is a recipe I found over at Ditch The Carbs. It’s for mini cheese loaves. I make them in this pan. I love this because they taste good enough that my kids will eat them without complaint, they’re easy to make, they’re good for you, and you can make a bunch and store them in the freezer. You can warm them up lightly before packing them, and then they’re ready to go.
Then I added a side of cucumber sticks and apple slices.
A note: Apples are not the lowest carb fruits, and for that reason I don’t eat them myself. But since I’m not worried about keeping my kids under 20 grams of carbs a day like I do for myself, this half of a small apple is ok as far as I’m concerned.
Savory Waffle Ham & Cheese
Ok, this one is another waffle sandwich but I switched it up into a savory ham and cheese waffle sandwich.
I saw this recipe on Instagram– all you have to do is put some shredded cheese in your waffle iron. Add scrambled egg, then top with more cheese. Close the lid and you have a crispy cheese waffle.
I added some onion salt to my egg mixture for extra flavor. Then spread the waffles with a little cream cheese before adding a slice each of ham and cheese.
Sides: more cucumbers and some blueberries. Berries are a great choice for low carb fruits!
–>These waffles also make a mean grilled ham and cheese if you’re making something to eat at home.<–
Ham & Pickle Roll-ups
My 8-year-old has suddenly become obsessed with pickles so he was excited when I pulled out this lunch idea.
Take some ham slices, spread with cream cheese, then wrap around baby dill pickles. Then I cut them into thirds because my kids seem to think bite-sized food is extra great.
Ok, maybe I do, too.
I threw in some tomatoes from our garden and some low carb coconut clusters for a treat.
Cheese & Crackers
A perennial favorite in our house: cheese and crackers. Think of this as the healthier version of lunchables. They can create their own cracker sandwiches with meat and cheese, or just eat them separately.
Sides are more cucumbers and carrots, plus some blackberries.
I like to use the gluten-free crispbread from Trader Joe’s. Each crisp bread is just 3 net carbs. I cut it into quarters to fit.
Ham & Cheese Wrap
The last one we have is another favorite in our house. My kids just call these roll-ups. For this I used low carb tortillas from Gnom-Gnom. The texture of these is really nice and my kids don’t ask what’s wrong with them. 😂
Note: this tortilla recipe contains almond flour, so it would not be suitable for nut-free environments. You can substitute sunflower seed flour, or look for low carb wraps that are made with coconut flour. You can also find low-carb wraps in stores, just be sure you check the ingredients and are comfortable with them.
My kids like ham and cheese in their roll-ups, but you can swap that out with turkey or salami and add some lettuce and tomatoes if that’s your kids’ thing. I spread cream cheese on the tortilla first to help keep it together, but do whatever your kid likes.
Veggies and ranch on the side is always a favorite. Feel free to swap out for hummus if your kids like that and use whatever veggies they’ll eat.
There you have it! I hope this has given you some inspiration for making healthier lunches for your kids (or yourself!)