35+ Healthy Lunch & Snack Ideas (Kids Will Eat!)

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35 Easy Real Food Lunch and Snack Ideas
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We’ve talked about what to pack in kids’ school lunches for healthy food, but healthy snacks are important too! It’s taken many years to get this area of life down, and we’ve made a lot of strides. Here is our ever-growing list of our favorite healthy snacks that aren’t heavy on sugar and contain lots of healthy nutrients that help kids learn, focus, and grow.

Combine several of them and you have a healthy lunch as well!

Here we go…

Beyond the Sandwich: Easy Snack & Lunch Ideas for the Whole Family

It seems like it should be enough of an accomplishment to shop, plan, and prep healthy weeknight dinners, but alas… there are those pesky breakfast and lunch times (and in between times) to plan for as well!

For this reason, I try to repurpose dinner leftovers as much as possible so I have to purchase fewer ingredients and do less prep throughout the week. Still, sometimes you just need a more portable or presentable snack when you’re on the go (or when the neighborhood pack of kids wanders into your living room… be warned: they come back more often if you feed them!).

I’ve grouped my favorite healthy snacks by category, starting with the most prep-intensive (it’s on my kids’ chore list to prep snacks for the week) and ending with my favorite convenience and pantry snacks to buy.

Snacks Kids Can Make

Kids are more capable of making meals and snacks than we give them credit. One of the best things I ever did was purchase this online kids’ cooking course that taught them safe knife skills, measuring, and more. Here are some of my favorite snack recipes that are easy for kids to make themselves:

Smoked Salmon Dip

This smoked salmon dip recipe is easy and packed with nutrients. It’s very easy for kids to make too, despite sounding fancy. I love this dip for a party or a quick snack or lunch. I always like including seafood whenever possible since chicken and beef can get boring.

Homemade Trail Mix

We love mixing up a batch of trail mix for quick snacks. Toss some nuts and dried fruit in a container and store in the freezer. Here are some ideas to include:

  • Nuts: walnuts, cashews, almonds, etc.
  • Dried fruit
  • Unsweetened coconut flakes
  • Chocolate chips
  • Carob chips
  • Barukas nuts

(I find Thrive Market has the best prices and quality for these. It is a membership-based service but totally worth it!)

Lettuce Wraps

I make variations of these all the time with whatever leftover meat I have in the house, wrapped in romaine lettuce (I add hot sauce). Other favorite variations to wrap in lettuce are:

Lettuce wraps are easy to make, especially if you already have the insides prepared.

Guacamole and Sliced Veggies

Most days, this is an easy snack to throw together in just a couple of minutes. I make easy guacamole by mashing avocado and salsa. Slice carrots, cucumbers, and celery for dipping and you are set. My one year old usually just eats the guacamole by the handful, but with all the nutrients in avocado, I don’t mind at all!

Hummus and Sliced Veggies

My kids love this hummus with roasted red pepper, and I love all the healthy fats and fiber it contains!

Celery With Almond Butter

This is one of my personal favorite snacks (or breakfasts when paired with hard boiled eggs!). Almond butter is less allergenic and has a higher nutrient profile than peanut butter (peanuts are actually a legume). I just slice celery and smear on almond butter. You can always add some raisins for the “ants on a log” look.

Fruit Kabobs

This healthy snack is easy for kids to make on their own and fun for them to eat too. You can use any fresh fruit you have on hand, but for a really beautiful presentation check out this recipe. Serve with full-fat (not fat-free or low-fat) Greek yogurt to dip for added protein and fat.


Whether you’re headed out the door to an after-school activity or need something quick for a car ride, these snack recipes for kids are healthy as well as low mess.

Homemade or Nitrite-Free Beef Jerky

Who doesn’t love beef jerky? My kids would eat it by the pound if I kept enough of it around. It is high in protein, and good versions don’t have any chemicals or artificial preservatives. Stores like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods often carry healthy versions, and you can easily make your own.

Wellness Bars

I make these all the time and my kids call them “candy bars.” These granola bar alternatives are made with a base of nuts and Medjool dates and variations can include anything from cinnamon to dried fruit to dark chocolate. (My favorite is the basic recipe with organic dark chocolate chips… tastes like a cookie!). These are easy to make and a fast snack on the go.

Grain-Free Apple Cinnamon Muffins

This muffin recipe was made when I discovered we only had 5 eggs left for breakfast (nowhere near enough for our family!). This is one kitchen experiment that turned into a regular family favorite. The best part is it tastes and feels like cake but has lots of protein and fiber to keep you full. I also love to make this lemon blueberry muffin.

Coconut Flour Pumpkin Bread Muffins

Another muffin variation featuring coconut flour. It also freezes well so you can make a batch or two and pull them out of the freezer as needed. Make them in mini muffin tins and you have an even lower mess snack!

Homemade Fruit Snacks

Everyone loves fruit snacks! These fruit snacks are made with gelatin and kombucha, making them healthy and delicious. They are easy to pack when you’re running out the door and don’t make much mess (even with your messiest kiddos).

Homemade Fruit Leather

Another fruit recipe, these mock fruit rollups combine strawberries and beets for hidden nutrients. They roll up really easily and are perfect for packing for a trip. Serve with trail mix or nuts and you have a rounded snack.

Cheese Chips

When baked, cheese turns into a crispy and delicious chip! These real food cheese chips aren’t an everyday snack but they are a healthy (and cheaper) alternative to store-bought chips. They are easy to pack and offer healthy fats to keep kids feeling full.

For a Party

Visiting friends and family when you don’t eat many of the foods that are served at parties can be tricky. That’s why I always bring a plate of one of these party favorites:

Zesty Radish Cream Cheese Dip

Full of healthy fat, protein, and a serving of radishes, this creamy but healthy dip is a great way to get kids eating more veggies. Radishes can be too spicy for kids, but the cheese in this recipe makes the bite of the radish more palatable.

Cucumber With Smoked Salmon & Cream Cheese

I could make a meal out of this (and I do sometimes). Simply slice cucumbers and spread on some cream cheese or top with a piece of avocado (or some guacamole). Put a piece of smoked salmon on top and presto- the perfect snack. A healthy fat, protein, and vegetable in one bite!

Deviled Eggs

Full of protein and healthy fats, deviled eggs are my go-to for filling hungry bellies during snack time. This is my tried-and-true deviled eggs recipe, but sometimes I improvise when I don’t have mayo on hand (or the time to make it) by mashing the yolks with avocado and a little salt and pepper. Put some nitrite-free bacon crumbles on top and you have an amazing snack (or breakfast… or lunch…)

Chicken Bacon Bites

These delicious chicken bacon bites are packed with protein (read: filling) and everyone loves them. These are my go-to snack for parties since they’re a crowd pleaser.

Shrimp Cucumber Appetizers

I love seafood and am always looking for tasty ways to get my kids to eat more of it. This shrimp cucumber appetizer recipe fits the bill. It includes healthy fat, protein, vegetables, and even probiotics. It’s a meal in a bite!

For Toddlers

Many toddler snack recipes are full of sugar! These healthier ideas will train their tastebuds to enjoy a whole variety of tastes and textures. See my full list of toddler finger foods here, but here are my favorites:

Chia Seed Squeeze Pouches

It’s no surprise that squeeze pouches are a popular snack for toddlers. They are easy to carry, easy for toddlers to eat on their own (with little mess) and are less likely to cause choking than finger foods. But store-bought pouches are expensive and contain preservatives, little protein, and up to 10 grams of sugar or more! This chia seed recipe is an attempt to make a healthier version for on-the-go. Chia seeds are a great source of calcium, omega-3s, and antioxidants, making this recipe delicious and healthy.

Fruit and Whipped Cream

This is a simple one but is delicious and filling. Add a spoonful of whipped heavy cream (unsweetened) to organic berries or sliced fruit (like apple slices). The fat in the cream will help kids stay full and the fruit adds just enough sweetness.

Homemade Healthy Jello

I grew up eating the sugar and chemical laden jello at my school, but I didn’t want my kids to eat it. So I came up with a healthy version using fruit juice and grass-fed gelatin. It’s not an everyday snack but is a healthier choice than regular jello.

Kale Chips

In my opinion, kale chips are the most kid-friendly way to serve kale. For toddlers, this is an especially good choice because it helps to expose them to greens early so they learn to like them. My kids don’t usually like kale, but kale chips they love!

Roasted Sweet Potato Bites

It can be hard to find snacks for kids (and toddlers especially) that don’t include sugar. But I like to reserve sweet treats for special occasions and give nutrient-dense snacks instead. This roasted sweet potato bites recipe is perfect. It’s easy to make (and freeze for later) and is an easy food for toddlers to eat on their own.

Grain-Free Chicken Finger

A far cry from the chicken fingers you find on most kid menus. These healthier chicken fingers are easy to make and delicious for adults and big kids too!

Healthy Treats

Hey, healthy can be delicious too!

Yogurt Fruit Dip

This simple yogurt fruit dip is sweetened with honey and packed with probiotics. Serve with your choice of fresh fruit or even granola!

Snow Cream (No Evaporated Milk)

This healthy snow cream (Dairy-free version option) was born when my kids (and the neighborhood kids) wanted to try this treat after a snowfall. Since snow was unusual in our area, I wanted to find a way to make it happen. This recipe uses just 4 ingredients (including snow!) and is a fun and healthy treat for the winter.

Healthy Homemade Chocolate

This recipe is GAPS, Paleo, and Primal friendly.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Fat Bombs (Keto Friendly)

With lots of healthy fats and just stevia as a sweetener, these treats are surprisingly healthy.

Healthy Homemade Marshmallows

This is definitely not an everyday food but when the kids are begging for a marshmallow, this recipe is a much better choice than store-bought marshmallows. It includes nutrient-dense ingredients such as gelatin, marshmallow root, and even probiotics.

Strawberry Lemonade Popsicles

These summertime pops are not an everyday snack but they can be a fun and healthy occasional treat. These are made with just 4 ingredients and very easy to make.

My Favorite Snacks to Buy

If you’re not into making your own healthy snacks, there are so many more healthy options now than there were 10+ years ago when I started blogging! Here’s a short list of my family’s current favorites, most of them from Thrive Market, my not-so-secret secret for saving a lot of $ on pantry items like grain-free crackers, nuts, sardines, and many organic convenience foods.

  • Paleovalley Beef Sticks: Like beef jerky only easier for kids to eat since they’re softer. Best of all, they are made from very high quality (grass-fed) ingredients and preserved through a natural fermentation process, making these sticks a source of probiotics. Receive 15% off at the above link.
  • NUFS snacks – If I’m looking for a healthy alternative to dessert, I really like the brownie flavor. Otherwise the black sesame or orange ginger are very close seconds! Use code wellnessmama for 10% off!
  • Epic Bars: These are made from grass-fed, pastured, and wild-caught protein sources. They’re a filling snack (or meal in a pinch) that I feel good about giving my kids. A few of the flavors (like beef and bacon) are AIP compliant.
  • Hemp Power Snacks: These snacks are made with high-protein hemp, blueberries, and sweetened with dates.
  • Kale Chips: If you can’t make them, these are a close second. They contain only real food ingredients and come in a variety of flavors.
  • Cashews: When all else fails, nuts are a great snack. They’re full of healthy fat and protein and easy to bring anywhere. Cashews are the softest nuts, making them a good choice for kids.
  • Seasnax: This seaweed snack is a great way to add iodine to the diet and kids really love them! They only contain 3 ingredients (including sea salt) and no sugar.
  • Daily Harvest Smoothie Cups: One snack the kids know is reserved for mom only! Too often we moms get the short end of the nutritional stick, so to speak, just because we’re taking care of everyone else. I keep these pre-portioned smoothie cups in the freezer for a quick snack or lunch. They use nutritious fruits and veggies flash-frozen in delicious combinations like Carrot + Chia or Cold Brew + Almond. Also check out their harvest bowls and even healthy cookie dough!

I buy these snacks in bulk and keep them in a safe place in the pantry (read: where kids can’t reach them) so they are there when we need them.

Snacks for Healthy Kids: It Can Be Done!

The next time you’re stumped for what to give the kids for school snacks or after school, try one of these delicious and healthy snack recipes. They are grain free and gluten free and many are peanut and dairy free as well.

If you’re wanting more healthy and kid-friendly recipes, check out my full list of healthy breakfast and lunch ideas or this awesome list of snacks from Mark’s Daily Apple.

I’m sure I’ve missed some great ideas… please share your favorites in the comments below!

Katie Wells Avatar

About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. WellnessMama.com is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.


16 responses to “35+ Healthy Lunch & Snack Ideas (Kids Will Eat!)”

  1. Andrea Avatar

    Hi Katie, I represent Organic Caboose®, a small baby and home goods company. May we use your image and link to this article in a social media post? Thanks!

  2. holly casanova Avatar
    holly casanova

    Thanks for the link to the Gravlax recipe. I was hoping for one that didn’t contain sugar, though. How do you sub it out without the salt getting overpowering and harsh? I’ve tried curing salmon without the sugar but wasn’t very successful so I had high hopes for a sugar-free cure.

  3. christina h Avatar
    christina h

    i have to giggle at the chia seed energy bar snack as a school snack…..god help the teachers! 😉

  4. Erika Avatar

    This post is what brought me to your website for the first time almost a year ago. I was looking for healthy things to pack for my guys. I was looking for low-carb ideas, but I was only finding the typical low-fat nonsense. I was surprised and happy to find this post, and eager to see what else you had on your site. Since then I’ve learned so much from you and other websites about things I didn’t even know were out there. I’ve been on a slow but steady journey to detox my family and made many of your bath and beauty recipes. Thanks for providing all the info that you do. It has really changed my life.

  5. gabrielle Avatar

    the bread reciepts i’ve made don’t use yeast, why not? staying away from grains not the yeast?

  6. Tami Gray Sanker Avatar
    Tami Gray Sanker

    Oh my goodness! Thank you for this timely posting! We started revamping our eating habits last week and my 6 yr old daughter and 11 yr old son are asking “What about lunch at school?” I was going to do research this week to see what alternatives there are besides the usual sandwiches. Thanks for the post! Can’t wait to show some of the ideas to them!

  7. Roxy Avatar

    Kale Chips

    I have made some easier kale chips using the pizza cutter and a Misto.

    Mist a cookie sheet with your preferred baking oil, and sprinkle sea salt over it. Preheat oven to 300.

    After washing making sure kale is dry, lay it on its side with both sides of the leaf facing the same direction. Get your pizza cutter and run it right up next to the spine. Tear the cut off kale into pieces and toss onto the prepared sheet. Don’t worry about overlapping, etc.

    Once all the kale is on the sheet, mist again with oil and dust with salt. Pop it into the oven for about 1/2 hour. The time is going to depend on how large a bunch of kale you have and how large the cookie sheet is. Keep track of how the kale is browning. Once most of the kale is brown, turn the oven off and let it sit inside the oven until it cools.

    Enjoy these chips that give you the peppery salty taste while still giving you a daily vegetable and low calorie count. Since this is so easy, you can make it often and experiment with the oil and salt/no salt flavors.

  8. Lori Avatar

    Oh yeah…and I wanted to share another one of my new favorite snacks. I slice up a granny smith apple and put it in a small reusable to-go contaianer. I squeeze a little lemon juice over the top, then sprinkle it with some ground cardamon and (very lightly) stevia powder. I like to stick a toothpick in one of the apples and then put the lid on. I shake it up a bit then toss it in my backpack. It’s one of my favorite between class snacks. The toothpick is very convenient so I don’t have to touch the apples with my fingers as I’m making my way to my next class. It’s a great tangy-sweet snack on the run ;D 

    1. Stefanie Avatar

      That sounds delicious! Have you tried apple slices, lemon juice, and smoky paprika? Here in Chile, they have a great spice called “Merken”, it is like a spicy, smoky paprika and it really gives the apple a great flavour not to mention a spicy kick!

  9. Lori Avatar

    A few years ago I was in a Mediterranean restaurant and wanting to order the hummus. At the time I was trying my best to go gluten free. I asked the server if I could get cucumber slices instead of pita bread slices. I figured if the cucumber was sliced thick enough, the slices would be strong enough to be dipped in the hummus without bending. Instead of slicing the cucumber straight they sliced it diagnally. Not only did it work, but it was so deliciously refreshing I didn’t even miss the pita bread! From that day forward cucumber slices with hummus is one of my favorite snacks and the bonus is I can still enjoy it going grain-free ;D

  10. Anne Avatar

    This is amazing.  Seriously! My husband and I eat 95% paleo but we’ve been looser with the kids, but my resolution for June is to rein in their eating.  This is like an answer to prayer for that!  We’ll be making: rice-free sushi, apple chips, jerky (my kids love regular homemade jerky but have a hard time chewing it–I think your ground beef version will be easier), almond meal crackers…and then next week we’ll try some more of these recipes!

    I have a post planned for Monday that I’m calling “The New Healthy.”  I am absolutely linking to this!  

  11. Alison Golden Avatar
    Alison Golden

    Hmm, some of these look really good. I’ve been searching for primal lunches for kids that are something more than kebabs. I look forward to trying a few of these over the summer

    1. Nara Jenks Avatar
      Nara Jenks

      I will be making/buying some of these at the grocery store next time I go!

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