6 Fresh Ideas for Lunchbox Veggies

I’ve been thinking about school lunch more than usual this week in light of the hullaballo over a Chicago school principal banning children from bringing sack lunches from home.

Preparing school lunch is a lot of work, and packing a nutritious one, even more so. Vegetables are one important element that often gets overlooked. And it’s no wonder. They are kind of a pain to prepare, aren’t the favorite amongst most kids, and often come home untouched.

That said, it’s hard for kids to get enough vegetables in their diet without eating them at lunch. I find variety ups the likelihood that said veggies will get eaten. Mixing it up is also beneficial from a nutrition standpoint because every vegetable offers something different on the vitamin/mineral front. Little carrots carved into the shape of bullets, while incredibly convenient, offer only a slice of the nutritional spectrum.

Here are a few ideas for adding variety and inspiration to lunchbox veggies:

  • Cheesy :: Package up leftover cooked broccoli with a lemon wedge. Add a little container of grated Parmesan for sprinkling come lunchtime.
  • Tangy :: Douse sliced cucumbers and peppers with seasoned rice wine vinegar.
  • Nutty :: Include a small container of Asian peanut sauce for dipping along with sugar snap peas or other crunchy favorites.
  • Spicy :: Pack up jicama sticks with a wedge of lime. In another teeny container, add a dash or two of chili powder for dipping.
  • Salty :: Wrap up half of a cooked corn on the cob with a little shaker of salt on the side.
  • All Mixed Up :: Combine fruits and vegetables together: apple slices and carrot sticks, celery and orange segments, grapes and cucumbers, and so on.

I’d love to hear your ideas for lunchbox vegetables.


04.15.2011 at6:07 PM #


Great ideas! I get tired of looking at the plain raw veggies going into lunches and I don’t even have to eat them every day. We sometimes include the veggies by packing leftover pasta with roasted vegetables (usually leftover from dinner the night before) for lunch.

04.19.2011 at2:49 PM #

Maria Adams

Great ideas! I too, am a mother and dietitian. I think it’s so important to pack veggies for lunch, but admit that too often I rely on carrots, peppers, and cucumbers. My kids are still both in preschool, but I find if I get them involved in choosing veggies for their lunch they are more likely to eat them.

04.19.2011 at2:49 PM #


Good tip, Maria, on getting kids involved in choosing veggies. I agree, they are more likely to eat them. Thanks.

09.14.2011 at10:50 PM #

Alexis D.

I buy red, orange and yellow bell peppers and cut shapes using metal vegetable cutters from Japan. I usually mix the shapes with grape tomatoes and carrots. You can also use the cutters for cheese. I also have been using a julienne peeler to slice cucumbers and adding them to lavash roll-ups.

09.14.2011 at10:50 PM #

Katie Morford

Those are great ideas. Never thought of using cookie cutters on peppers. I like. it. Thanks

08.27.2012 at8:24 PM #

Stacy Whitman

Thanks for the inspiration!! I especially like the “All Mixed Up” idea…hadn’t thought of combining the fruits and veggies. Can’t wait to try it!

08.27.2012 at8:24 PM #

Katie Morford

I especially like to pair similar textures…grapes and cucumbers, apple and fennel, etc.

01.13.2014 at11:00 AM #

Moxy Maura

My 6 year old has recently gone on a bender regarding sushi & bento boxes. It takes some time (at least for me, being unpracticed at ’em), but when I’m home to do it (tho I’m seeing notes on how to do it the night before), I pack Vietnamese spring rolls for him with a small container of sweet chili sauce or ponzo sauce.

I’m sure it’s got to be the weirdest kindergartner lunch in the building.

01.13.2014 at11:00 AM #

Katie Morford

Good for you. Start them young eating adventurously. Soon the other kids will be going home and asking for spring rolls, too!

08.14.2014 at10:06 AM #


I make veggie summer rolls- lettuce, cucumber, carrot, julienned red pepper, and julienned snow peas wrapped in rice paper- and send them with a side of ponzu for dipping. It’s a little work to get them made, but I make up several at a time and they keep well in the fridge.

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