These healthy lunchables are the perfect solution for picky kids and easy lunches! They are homemade and easy to prep helping you save money and time.
The best thing about homemade lunchables is that you can alter them for any type of eaters. Whether you are vegan, gluten-free, have a nut allergy or just picky there is an option for everyone!
This post was sponsored by Rubbermaid but the content and opinions expressed are fully my own.
Using this easy guide will help you organize your lunches in no time. I like to prep ahead and make batches of my tofu teriyaki, vegan meatballs, vegan ranch dressing and protein balls for the perfect fillings in these healthy lunchables for the boys!
Ingredient Ideas for Homemade Lunchables
Ah lunchables, the coveted prepackaged lunch that every kid begs for and every parent dreads. Sure, they're convenient and can definitely come in handy from time to time, but they're not sustainable.
The classic store bought versions are full of unnecessary ingredients, cost more, and not to mention the waste! By making your own homemade lunchables using containers from home (like my favorite Rubbermaid EasyFindLids™ Meal Prep Containers) you can use healthier ingredients, customize them for allergies, and get the kids involved to pick the fillings to accommodate taste preferences.
Last but not least, most of the store bought ones contain meat and dairy. We prefer to eat a plant based diet, so putting together our own allows us to make vegan lunchables instead!
Get creative and have your kids create their own combinations from the following list:
- Cubed or sliced tofu, we like the baked teriyaki tofu or the tofu marinade from this sandwich recipe.
- Plant-based meat alternative
- Plant-based pepperoni slices
- Plant-based sausage
- Plant-based meatballs or bean based balls
- Cooked beans, crispy chickpeas are always a hit
- Vegan egg, either scrambled or omelet style cut up
- Nuts like pistachios, almonds, walnuts, pecans, or cashews.
- Sunflower seeds, shelled are ideal
- Dairy free cheese of choice
- Shredded dairy free cheese of choice
- Cubed dairy free cheese of choice
- Crackers, gluten free if necessary
- Pita bread , flatbread, or lavash, gluten free if needed and cut into smaller pieces
- Tortillas, cut into smaller pieces or rolled and cut
- Tortilla chips
- Grapes, cut in half for smaller kiddos
- Apples, cut into cubes or slices, toss in lemon juice to prevent browning
- Tangerines or cuties, peeled and separated into pieces
- Strawberries, sliced if preferred
- Bananas, sliced day of
- Baby carrots, carrots cut into rounds or matchsticks
- Celery sticks, cut into smaller pieces
- Sliced red, yellow or orange bell pepper
- Grape or cherry tomatoes
- Broccoli pieces
- Cauliflower pieces
- Sliced cucumbers
- Sugar snap peas
- Ranch dressing, or other dressing you prefer
- Mashed avocado, make into guacamole if preferred
- Pizza sauce
- Nut or seed butter of choice
- BBQ Sauce
How to Make DIY Lunchables
No matter which flavors you end up choosing, the process of assembling is pretty much the same:
- Prepare the fillings. Have your kids help choose what options they want each week.
- Line up the ingredients. Think buffet style on the counter or a table that's easier to reach. You can segment the fillings in categories.
- Fill each container. Make it well rounded with protein, fat, and fiber to get the most filling combination. I suggest at least 2 servings of protein, 1 grain or carb, and 2 fruits and veggies, plus a fun dessert.
- Store the finished week of homemade healthy lunchables in the fridge for the week.
- Pack in a lunchbox with an icepack and send off to school!
The Best Containers for Homemade Lunchables
One of the most important part of making your own healthy lunchables is having the right storage container. If you just throw everything together in one without dividers, that food is getting all mixed up which can lead to a soggy messy disaster!
The best way to avoid this is to use some containers with separate compartments, like the Rubbermaid EasyFindLids™ Meal Prep Containers to keep everything where it should be!
These handy containers already have dividers in them which is perfect for sorting the components of the meal. Then all you need are cupcake liners to hold dips and tiny items like nuts.
And since they're reusable, you're skipping out on all that waste and helping to save the planet!
Reasons why the Rubbermaid EasyFindLids™ system is my fave:
- Dishwasher safe! Because nobody wants to hand wash dishes every day.
- The modular containers nest and stack easily which means organized cupboards.
- Bonus, these containers are durable and keep food secure on the-go so no spills.
- Microwave safe, for when you want food hot without making more dishes!
Healthy Lunchable Ideas
Now that you have the process of meal prepping down, here are some flavor options:
- Crust: Pita, tortilla, or bread
- Sauce: Homemade pizza sauce, your favorite store bought sauce, pesto, or Alfredo sauce.
- Toppings: Vegan cheese, broccoli, vegan pepperoni, olives, pineapple, peppers, etc.
- Tortilla chips
- Vegan nacho cheese sauce
- Black Beans
- Shredded lettuce
- Mini tortillas (street taco size, or use a circle cookie cutter to make your own) or wonton cups
- Vegan taco meat
- Sour cream
Chickpea Salad Sandwiches
- Bread or crackers
- Mashed chickpea salad
- Sliced cheese
- Sliced tomatoes
Tips for Kids
Get the kids involved! By including them in the preparation process they'll get to explore their independence, and be more likely to eat it all up!
- Take the kids shopping! Or at least let them help create the shopping list.
- Offer a variety of choices for lunchable fillings.
- Always include at least a couple options you know they like.
- If your kid is a bit more selective in their eating habits, check out more tips in this guide for picky eaters!
While store bought lunchables are calorie dense with protein, fat, and carbs which are all necessary and good to keep kids full, they're not considered healthy. They contain plenty of sodium, unhealthy fats, and preservatives without offering very much nutrition.
However, by making your own you can use healthy whole food ingredients to create a delicious healthy lunchable!
Depending on the flavor, lunchables range in calorie amount. Some sources say they can be anywhere from 250 to 360 calories. However if you make them yourself, you will get a different result depending on what you put inside. You will also be able to control the types of calories you are getting, which is more important than the number itself.
Yes it is less expensive to make your own homemade lunchables, you are paying a premium for the convenience of the store bought versions.
More Homemade Lunch Ideas
Keep the good flavors rolling with these easy plant based lunch recipes:
- Easy Vegan Lunch Ideas for Kids
- One Week Vegan Lunchbox Meal Plan
- Easy Tofu Sandwich Recipe
- Smashed Chickpea Salad Sandwich
- Mason Jar Salads
- Vegan Pinwheels
Healthy Homemade Lunchables (Vegan Options)
- 8 ounces tofu , baked into cubes or slices (see teriyaki tofu recipe or tofu sandwich slices recipe for homemade)
- 4 slices plant-based meat alternative
- 16 plant-based pepperoni slices
- 2 links plant-based sausage , sliced
- 4 plant-based meatballs or bean based balls
- 1 cup cooked beans , can use crispy chickpeas
- 1 cup vegan egg , scrambled or omelet style cut up
- ½ cup nuts of choice
- 4 slices dairy free cheese of choice
- 1 cup shredded dairy free cheese of choice
- 1 cup cubed dairy free cheese of choice
- 24 crackers , gluten-free if needed
- 4 pita bread , flatbread, or lavash, gluten-free if needed and cut into smaller pieces
- 4 tortillas , cut into smaller pieces or rolled and cut
- 1 cup pretzels
- 1 cup tortilla chips
- 1 cup grapes
- 2 apples , cut into cubes or slices
- 4 small tangerines or cuties , peeled and separated into pieces
- 1 cup blueberries
- 1 cup blackberries
- 1 cup strawberries , sliced if preferred
- 2 small bananas , sliced
- 16 baby carrots , or 2 carrots cut into rounds or matchsticks
- 2 celery sticks , cut into smaller pieces
- 1 red, yellow or orange bell pepper , cut into slices
- 1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes
- 1 cup small broccoli pieces
- 1 cup small cauliflower pieces
- 1 cup sliced cucumbers
- Prep ingredients of choice. You can have kids help choose what options they want to give them choice and control over their lunch.
- Line up the ingredients on the counter or table, I like to put them into categories so that they can choose one per category.
- Fill each container with the options from each category. You can make multiple lunchables and store in the fridge for the week.
- You can mix and match this in so many ways! Use whatever items your family prefers.
- Nutrition facts for this include using: tofu, cheese slices, crackers, grapes, carrots, ranch and chocolate chips.
Recipe by Veggies Don’t Bite, visit our site for more great plant-based recipes.