Coming up with kids school lunch box ideas, it’s a bit of a balancing act really between packing something that’s as equally nutritious as it is interesting - so your kids actually eat it. Last thing you want is discovering a stash of mouldy sandwiches at the bottom of a backpack! And in saying that, packing a lunch box where a sandwich isn't the main even can be pretty challenging at times.
That and kids can be super picky, so can schools. It’s not uncommon to find classrooms are nut-free because of other kid’s allergies – say goodbye to muesli bars and snack balls then! And then to add to the stress, some schools inspect lunch boxes too, which can be a bit of a mere.
Equally important though, besides packing nutrient dense foods that will fuel your kids throughout the day, is being able to prep a lunchbox fast - either the night before or first thing in the morning. Another time saver - if you're yet to embrace the bento, these boxes make it super easy to pack nutritious lunches loaded with wholefoods, and not plastic wrap.
Scroll on for 20 plant based wholefood heavy lunch box ideas that will give kids all the energy they need without consuming too much of yours!
Rice cakes & rice crackers with hummus
Hummus is an excellent dip for kids for a couple of reasons - one it tastes great, and secondly is thick enough to not be messy. Rice cakes and rice crackers are probably a staple for loads of parents, our best sellers that parents love are our super plain Black Rice Crackers Original and Original Rice Cakes – no added anything, just 2 ingredients – rice and a pinch of salt! And so kids won't find this lunch box addition to be super bland, add a delicious hummus. We love this almond tahini hummus here.
Dips and vegetable sticks
Sure it can be challenging getting kids to eat vegetables, but colourful dips like this carrot tahini hummus, or this beet and miso cheese below paired with fresh veggies all of a sudden seem pretty exciting.
Snack food has gotten a bit of a reputation for being over processed rubbish. So, make your own! Buying more specialty foods like baked chickpeas and vegetable chips can bump the average price up for filling a lunch box – but not if you do it yourself. Baked chickpeas can be super affordable snacks if you buy dry over canned and make these up in bulk. These are great for kids too, not greasy and easy for little hands too. Simply bake in a hot oven with any of your kiddies favourite herbs or spices.
Simple pasta vegetable salad
Reduce your lunch box prep time by making up a big pasta salad and spreading it out over 3 days. Pasta salads are great for lunch boxes because you can easily use what ingredients you have on hand, or make use of your left overs'. What is really great about pasta salads, is they're still amazing chilled, simply toss with a tahini or vinaigrette dressing for a delicious wholesome lunch. We love this green tabbouleh recipe by Megan May below. We hear kids love it too. For more salad ideas, check these out.
Clean green sandwiches
The lunch box staple, but not quite your regular. Rather than some sorry butter and jam combo these clean green sandwiches are layered with almond tahini hummus, mayo, avo, greens, shaved cucumber and loads of sprouts on a crusty bread. Get ready for some serious sandwich envy.
2 ingredient banana coconut cookies
No excuses here. All you need is bananas and desiccated coconut. It's quite possible the laziest cookie recipe ever! Just mash the bananas, add the coconut and bake for 25 minutes! Kids will love them. Get the recipe here.
Banana coconut loaf
The loaf is a great mid-morning snack option for kids - more cake than bread and it's absolutely delicious. Another reason to love this loaf - you don't need to blend or beat anything! You can get away with using just one large bowl, and most of the make time here is oven time. You just need 15 minutes or so to mix everything together. This loaf isn't crumbly so it's perfect for lunch boxes. Get the recipe here.
Oatmeal raisin cookies
Made from super wholesome like rolled oats, raisins, coconut and banana, these cookies sound like breakfast, and they're nutritious enough to be for sure! And much like a bowl of oatmeal, these oat cookies will provide your little one with long lasting energy, offering a nutritional upgrade on white flour. Make them here.
A quick iodine fix here, we often forget to eat foods from the sea, but seaweeds such as kelp, nori, and wakame are some of the best sources of iodine you can get your hands on.
Nori nutrients include calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, zinc and then some! Not to mention nori can contain up to 10 times more calcium than milk so another great way to get calcium into kids!
Gluten free almond meal cookies
Cookie perfection – soft, chocolate gooeyness! No equipment, just a couple of bowls, some mixing and 30 minutes oven time. Because these cookies use almond meal instead of flour, they're not only gluten free but they're also nutrient dense – with all the good fats, protein and other nutrients you'd find in whole almonds.
We've used dark chocolate here too so there's not the sugar content you'd otherwise find in milk chocolate – plus it's dark chocolate that contains all the antioxidants! Make them here.
5 ingredient no blender bliss balls
If you do have the time to whip up your own, these bliss balls require no equipment and can be more economical in the make versus buy scenario. Rather than a nut base, sun-flower flour is used here and if you need to make these nut-free, switch the peanut butter out for sunflower butter or tahini. Seeds are packed with protein, and essential vitamins and minerals like copper, vitamin B1 and E, that little bodies need. Check out the recipe here.
Chocolate tahini cookies
Another nut-free recipe here, and again no equipment, just some mixing and 10 minutes in the oven! These super simple cookies use tahini instead of nut butter, so they're not only providing little ones with healthy plant based fats, but calcium too. Sesame seeds actually contain more calcium per gram than milk, making these cookies a delicious way to help kids reach their RDI of calcium! Get the recipe here.
Raw goodness bars
For when you really don't have time but want to add something sweet to your kids lunch – without the refined sugars. Our Raw Goodness Bars are just dried fruits and nuts smooshed into a bar, like something you'd make yourself but you didn't have to. This delicious Coconut Cacao Rough bar is paleo, vegan and raw with no added sugars, preservatives and haven't been heat-treated. Plus they're energy dense so even half a bar will be enough for little ones.