Healthy Packed Lunches

Here are some ideas for healthy packed lunches, with whole foods instead of junk foods. All ideas are sugar free, gluten free, and dairy free.

What about sandwiches? Just for now, let's think outside the sandwich! You can always add bread, rolls, or cheese--the old stand-bys of packable lunch.

What about dessert? Eat dessert later--separately from lunch.

  • Candy and desserts will spoil taste for fruit
  • Eat fruit as part of lunch; have dessert some other time
  • Many fruits are very sweet; dried fruit is as sweet as any candy

Why a healthy lunch? A lunch of protein, vegetables, fruit, and whole grains--without sugar, caffeine, or MSG--"hits the spot" of refreshment and day-long energy. There's nothing to drag you down or "hop you up"--just good, tasty, real food.

My friends even ask me to pack these lunches for them...

The Ideal Healthy Packed Lunches: Brown Bag

Brown Bag Lunch

The ideal packed lunch:

  • Keeps at room temperature all morning
  • Can be made the night before
  • Packs into a brown paper bag
  • Can be eaten with your hands
  • Has plenty of variety

Small portions of a variety of foods is more enjoyable and filling than big portions of one or two foods. Variety is the spice of healthy packed lunches!

You can expand lunch ideas even further with containers, thermoses, and coolers. See below for Lunches In Containers


Chicken legs: How to make oven baked chicken legs

Choosing a chicken roasting pan

Hard boiled eggs: How to hard boil eggs

Hamburger patty

Small pork chop

Nuts: List of nuts and seeds

When leftover meat is cold, it's difficult to eat as a sandwich but easy to eat by picking it up whole. Some meats you may want to cut into strips or bite-size chunks.

Keep the packed lunch in the refrigerator overnight. It would be better for leftover meat to be kept refrigerated or in a cooler, but lunches should be OK in a school locker for the morning. If you can use a cooler, do so.

Sweet Fruit and Vegetables

Apple halves or orange slices can be cut at home and wrapped in aluminum foil.

Carrots or carrot sticks
Apple or apple halves
Orange or orange slices

More Vegetables

Celery sticks
Small tomatoes


Popcorn: How to make popcorn

  • How to bag popcorn: when cool, pour each portion into a brown bag lined with a gallon size baggie. Close the baggie with a twist tie.

Edible seaweed snacks
Trail mix

Condiment Ideas

Unrefined salt
Black pepper

Many condiments can be bought in small plastic shakers. Or, pack what you plan to use in its own small zip-lock bag; or, put it on the food when packing the lunch.

Lunches In Containers

There are even more healthy packed lunches if you can bring a container.

Container Ideas

Bento Boxes

Wide-mouth thermos
Plastic bowl with a lid
Paper bowl covered with saran wrap or aluminum foil

Salads and Salad Vegetables

Put any vegetables on greens in a bowl; or put slices or florets on their own in a bowl. Put any spread or dressing on any salad or vegetable.

Lettuce or mixed greens
Shredded cheese (yes, this is dairy)
Raw cabbage- shredded or sliced
Radish slices
Carrot pennies
Celery slices
Broccoli florets
Cauliflower florets

Cucumber slices
Zucchini slices
Daikon radish slices
Summer squash slices
Sliced tomatoes

Daikon radish slices go well with zucchini slices; both are best when allowed to marinate in salt for a few hours before eating.


Hummus (garbanzo beans and sesame)
Tahini (sesame butter)
Nut butters

Carry any salad dressings separately. A healthy suggestion for a salad dressing: flax seed oil.

Brown Rice

Cook the night before and carry in a wide-mouth thermos. How to cook brown rice


In a thermos: How to choose a healthy fruit juice