Healthy Real Food School Lunch Ideas

This year is my first experience packing lunches for school. My daughter is 3 1/2 and has just started pre-school. I have to admit it’s a little overwhelming at first. The school lunches I had as a kid mostly consisted of sandwiches. Since we eat a low-grain and gluten-free diet, a sandwich everyday doesn’t really work. As a real food school lunch newbie, I started searching the web for ideas…

The Lunch Box

First I was on the hunt for a lunch box that would suit our needs. The lunchbox needs to be…

  • Eco-friendly, meaning it replaces the need for plastic bags or plastic wrap. 
  • Non-plastic, preferable stainless steel. I don’t feel comfortable sending my 3 year old with glass.
  • Easy to open, something a young child can open and close on their own.
  • No mess (or low mess), if I were to pack something like applesauce I don’t want it to get all over everything else. 
  • Easy for Mom to pack quickly, the less parts the better, easy to clean
After searching through my options and reading some reviews from other Moms, I settled on the Planet Box. At first glance it seems a bit pricey for a lunch box which was my initial reaction but after more research it didn’t seem so bad. I had to purchase a zipper lunch box case either way which would be around $20-25 and then I would need containers. All my containers at home are glass and I don’t want to send that with my 3 year old. The individual containers cost anywhere from $8-$20 and I would need a few of them to pack different items. After adding up the individual things I had to buy it was almost the same amount of money as just buying the Planet Box. The Planet Box also supposedly lasts very long so it can be used multiple years. It is a no fuss lunch box because it is only one thing to open, everything is separated in its own compartment, and it is super easy to clean by hand or in the dishwasher. Some of the other options I considered:

What to Pack

Packing a non-sandwich lunch is almost like packing multiple different healthy snacks consisting of different proteins, vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. This is helpful to keep in mind because the things you are packing can’t be heated up at lunch time so snack type items work well. Some simple ideas include hard boiled egg, cut up carrots & cucumber, sliced apples, nuts, etc. To make things more interesting, there are a number of recipes that can be made ahead of time on the weekend and used in lunches all week.


Here are some recipes that I have used so far for lunches that were successful (meaning they were eaten)…

Recipes on my list to try for lunches…

More helpful posts on Healthy School Lunches


  1. shannon says

    The grain free pumpkin muffins are my breakfast staple! Delicious!

    Great healthy lunch ideas. I’ll caution it may only get more difficult. Michael and I are constantly battling over the “healthy” meals school hot lunch has to offer. I fail to see the nutritional value of frozen corn dogs, but tell that to an 8 year old whose other mother calls that gourmet…

    Keep strong with it! Your daughter will grow to make the right nutritional choices and you’ll be so amazed at the decisions she’ll make for herself!

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