Healthy lunch and snack ideas for children

Maya Aboukhater
Specialist Dietitian at Cromwell Hospital
16 May 2023
Next review due May 2026

A healthy, balanced diet is important for children to help them grow and give them energy. But it can be challenging to keep foods varied and healthy, especially when kids are growing up. As a mother of three boys under age 11, I’d like to share some healthy lunch and snack ideas. I’ve also got some tips on ways to keep things easy when feeding the family.

a little boy making pizza

Making it work for your family

What works for one family may not work for another. The key is finding a routine to your day, and slotting meals and snacks around it. For my family, I’ve found it useful to cook together one or two menus that my sons choose.

I tend to walk every few days after school with them and get different fruits for snacking through the day. This makes it more appealing and exciting. We then have a substantial dinner just after they come in from school.

At the weekend, I try to be more creative with food as we have much more time. You can make it fun for your children by getting them involved.

For example, you could take them shopping to buy ingredients and also let them help with cooking. This can help to shape positive attitudes towards food and eating.

a child's hand kneading dough

Healthy lunches

During busy times, making sandwiches for lunch can be a quick, nutritious, and delicious meal solution. For example, sandwich fillings such as grated cheese, eggs, peanut butter, tuna, salmon, or lean meat provide protein. You can also vary the filling and type of bread to mix it up, so things don’t get boring. Here are some ideas.

  • Try different breads, such as ciabatta, wraps, seeded bread, bloomers, or sourdough.
  • Spreads such as light mayonnaise, mustard, and pesto are great additions to a sandwich to pack in more flavour.

a plate of healthy sandwiches

Below are some healthy and filling lunch ideas for your children (and you).

  • Sardines on toast.
  • Baked beans on jacket potatoes.
  • Toast with peanut butter, cheese spread or hummus.
  • Raw vegetables cut into sticks (such as carrots or cucumber).
  • Toasted muffin or bagel with salmon or cream cheese. Add capers and a squeeze of lemon for more flavour.
  • Scones, crumpets, or pancakes.

Healthy snacks for kids

Try to keep snacking to twice a day. Snacks such as chocolate, crisps, and biscuits can be high in salt and sugar so it’s best to keep these to an occasional treat. Also, try not to let your children fill up on snacks between mealtimes. Here are some healthy snack ideas.

  • Plain yoghurt or fromage frais topped with their favourite fruit.
  • Sliced or chopped fruits (apples, pears, bananas, and grapes).
  • Sticks of cheese or a cup of milk.
  • Rice cakes, breadsticks, or oatcakes.
  • Walnuts, almonds, or peanuts with some raisins (if your child is not allergic).

Dried fruits should be kept to mealtimes only, as they have a high sugar concentration that can contribute to the development of tooth decay. Sugary drinks can also cause tooth damage, so opt to give your child water or milk.

mixed nuts on a wooden board

Top tips for healthy eating at home

  • Offer your children a wide variety of foods to make sure that they get all the nutrients and energy they need. Give them a range of foods from the four main food groups: carbohydrates, fruits and vegetables, protein, and dairy.
  • Try to plan your meals for a few days ahead and order bigger deliveries, or do fewer shops.
  • Give your family a mixture of white, brown, and wholegrain bread varieties so they don’t get bored of the same bread. This will provide them with carbohydrates, various vitamins, and fibre.
  • Give your children the opportunity to pick a meal once a week. If they’re old enough, they may be able to cook some of it, helping with chopping, adding ingredients, and serving it. We like to celebrate the end of the week by making pizzas together on a Friday evening.
  • To get a variety of fruits and vegetables, I have a seasonal box delivered directly from a local farm every week. My children help me to unpack the box, wash it, and present the fruits nicely in a bowl. A rainbow of fruits and vegetables will provide your children with different vitamins (especially vitamin C) and are also a source of fibre.
  • I’ve also added some raw nuts, chia seeds, and golden linseeds to our dinner table. These can be added to salads and yoghurt. The boys end up snacking on them as they’re just in front of them.

jars of edible seeds on a table

Recipe: Simple blueberry muffins

These muffins are easy to make and a healthy snack for hungry kids.

three blueberry muffins


  • 10 stoned prunes
  • 175g wholemeal flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2g sugar
  • One egg
  • 150 semi skimmed milk
  • 100g blueberries


  • Make the prune purée by blending the prunes with a little water until they have the same consistency as double cream.
  • Mix together the flour, baking powder, and sugar.
  • Beat the egg and milk into the prunes purée.
  • Add the egg mixture to the flour and beat thoroughly.
  • Mix in the blueberries, while being careful not to break the fruit too much.
  • Divide into muffin cases and cook in the oven for 25 minutes at 200°C or gas mark 6.


Here at Bupa we understand how important your family is. So with our family health insurance you can rest assured knowing that eligible treatment and support is available to you and your loved ones when you need it.

Maya Aboukhater
Maya Aboukhater
Specialist Dietitian at Cromwell Hospital



Rasheda Begum, Health Content Editor at Bupa UK

    • Healthy eating for children: Food Fact Sheet. British Dietetic Association (BDA)., published October 2021
    • School-aged children and adolescents. Oxford Handbook of Nutrition and Dietetics (3 ed, online). Oxford Academic., published April 2020. doi: 10.1093/med/9780198800132.003.0014
    • Macronutrients and energy balance. Oxford Handbook of Nutrition and Dietetics (3 ed, online). Oxford Academic., published April 2020. doi: 10.1093/med/9780198800132.003.0005
    • Micronutrients. Oxford Handbook of Nutrition and Dietetics (3 ed, online). Oxford Academic., published April 2020. doi:10.1093/med/9780198800132.003.0006

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