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Remember Lunchables? These Are the Healthier, Nitrate-Free Versions Kids Will Love

By Kelsey Neyman
|
November 30, 2021
DIY Lunchables
Image Credit: Kelsey Neyman

When I was growing up in the 90s, Lunchables were the coolest. Every time you opened your brown bag, you hoped against hope for a Lunchable. At every cafeteria table, kids had those bright, plastic containers filled with build-your-own sandwiches, nachos, and everyone’s favorite: pizza.

Back then, moms loved the convenience, and kids loved how fun they were — but now that I’m a mom, I realize that the ingredients list left a lot to be desired. We’re talking nitrate-packed meats, refined grains, sugary drinks…  none of the original Lunchables set is that great for you. But there is a healthier way for kids to take fun finger-foods to school.

In addition to making my own DIY Lunchables (recipes below!) I always have healthy, ready-made lunches in the fridge for those mornings when the schedule goes off the rails and there’s no way I’m getting lunch made. My go-to for these is a brand called Yumble, which makes these healthy, no-heat, grab-and-go lunches my daughter loves.

Yumble

Their lunches are made with totally healthy, whole ingredients, so I don’t have to feel like I’m compromising when it comes to taste or ingredients. The Tutti-Fruity Turkey Lunch and Pepperoni and Provolone Bagel are my daughter’s favorites, and the most Lunchables-esque: they’re super fun-feeling, and you can totally eat them with your hands.

For days when you don’t have any lunch prep time, I seriously recommend opting for Yumble lunches. But when you do have more time on your hands, check out these tasty, Lunchables-like recipes kids will love. (And you may want to make some extra for yourself, too.)

1. Kid-Friendly Tuna Salad

Kid-Friendly Tuna Salad

This tuna salad recipe is definitely a go-to for all ages. The fresh-squeezed lemon juice adds a refreshing lightness, and who doesn’t love dill pickles? Served up with multigrain crackers, kids can make their own sandwiches — and finish everything off with a chocolate-filled date surprise!

2. Build-Your-Own Pizza with Chocolate Hummus & Strawberry Dessert

Build-Your-Own Pizza

In our house, pizza night is always the favorite — so why not translate that into a healthy lunch using whole grain pita pockets and turkey pepperoni? This is such a fun treat for kids. And for dessert, what’s better than chocolate and strawberries? The chocolate hummus is a surprisingly big hit for everyone who tries it. For the pizza part of this lunch, you don’t even really need a recipe. Just include a small container of your favorite no-added-sugar tomato sauce, some whole grain pita, and another container of organic shredded mozzarella and uncured turkey pepperoni — and you’re good to go. Then, make this delicious chocolate hummus with strawberries for a special, healthful dessert.

3. Black Bean Salad and Mango Chia Seed Pudding

This is the perfect Taco Tuesday DIY Lunchable. Filled with protein, grains, and fresh vegetables, this lunch is sure to give your kids energy for hours. The black bean salad is an easy, quick dish that can serve as a dip for chips, and for dessert, this nutritious mango chia seed pudding is so creamy and naturally sweet, it’s sure to be a hit.

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