If you have kids then you know lunch can be artful negotiation mixed with repetitiveness or persistent reinvention. Kids often want to eat PB&J, pasta, chicken nuggets or a sandwich. And they want it over and over.

If you’d like to add some variety to your kid’s lunch that packs a healthy punch, then this post is for you.

Three Ideas for Swapping the Sandwich

  1. Just like the comedian Jeff Dunham’s character Jalapeno on a Stick, food can be more interesting and fun on a stick too. Imagine chicken skewers or sausage kebabs. You can put some of their favorite vegetables on there to add some variety and color. Pair your sticky lunch with rice, fruit and a cheese stick or yogurt.
  2. Tortilla makes a great substitute for bread and kids usually love it. There are a bunch of different kinds of tortilla, like spinach and tomato, but go with something your kids like and experiment as you go. You can make quesadillas, flatbread or just pair tortilla with a healthy dip, like avocado or even chicken salad. Try adding pineapples and tomatoes for healthy fruit and veggie options.
  3. Ditch the bread and roll with it. Meat roll-ups, that is. Take your favorite lunch meats and roll them with cheese and even some lettuce or spinach. Pair your roll-ups with pretzels, cucumber and apples to balance out this tasty lunch option.

Brinner but for Lunch

Kids love breakfast so why not pack it for lunch? You can make tiny pancakes (or buy some) to pack with fruit, a cheese stick and a hard boiled egg. Play with the combos that best fit your kid’s pallets but this one is sure to be a fan favorite.

That’s a Wrap

If you like wraps instead of subs, then maybe your kids like wraps too. Take that tortilla you have from experimenting with swapping the sandwich and make a wrap. Then cut the wrap into small slices and, vaiola, you have awesome pinwheels. Try one or two of their favorite (or tolerated) vegetables and pair with cheese or deli meat.

It’s Still a Salad

Pasta salad might not be the salad you envisioned your kids eating, but you can make a healthy and hearty pasta salad your kids will love. Try using roasted chicken and roasted vegetables mixed with olive oil or pesto with a bit of oil. You can include some greens like lettuce or spinach and even a little fruit. To balance out the lunch box, include some strawberries and a yogurt.

The Bento Lunch Box

If you already have a to-go container with 3-5 compartments you have the beginning of a bento box. You want to cover the essentials like protein, carbs, veggies and fruits so ideally you want about five spots. Chickpeas and pita are a great combo and pair well with cucumber and grapes. Feel free to add a dipping sauce like a yogurt-based ranch or a spinach and artichoke dip. They won’t even know they’re eating a Mediterranean medley of deliciousness.

The Re-invented PB&J

Kids love PB&Js. We love PB&Js. But how many PB&Js can one eat in a single week? If you want to add a twist to an old time favorite, try replacing the peanut butter with almond butter and the jelly with strawberries. Almond butter is a healthier substitute for peanut butter and fresh strawberries sidestep the added sugars and preservatives in jelly. You can even add banana if you’re feeling spunky.

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