11 healthy, packable kids' lunches that'll outshine your standard PB&J

The Clever Carrot

Back to school season means back to lunch packing. 

Stuffing a PB&J, baby carrots and a packaged cookie into your kid's lunchbox each day may be tempting, but there are plenty of close-to-as easy recipes out there to keep the lunch routine exciting and appealing for picky eaters. 

Bonus: You'll probably want to make these lunches for yourself too. Think of all the time saved! Try these delicious and healthy packable lunches that go far beyond the school cafeteria and make that lunchbox exciting again. 

Greek tortellini salad

Tortellini saladSource: The Clever Carrot
Tortellini salad  The Clever Carrot

Tortellini for lunch? Score! Subbing out lettuce for pasta in this veggie-full meal makes it a salad even kids will be excited about eating. Get the recipe here.

Hummus veggie wrap

Hummus veggie wrapSource: Foodie Crush
Hummus veggie wrap  Foodie Crush

Pack in the veggies with this wrap idea that has enough subtle variations to make for unique lunches all week. Get the recipe here.

Antipasto farro salad

Antipasto farro saladSource: In This Kitchen
Antipasto farro salad  In This Kitchen

It may sound and look fancy, but just think of this dish as a deconstructed salami sandwich. Whole grains, cured meat and dressing are served cold in a healthier version of the lunchtime deli staple. Get the recipe here.

Pesto carrots and chickpeas with rice

Pesto carrots and chickpeas with riceSource: Naturally Ella
Pesto carrots and chickpeas with rice  Naturally Ella

Sneak some greens and veggies into this rice bowl with flavorful homemade pesto, which can also be spread on sandwiches intermittently throughout the week. Get the recipe here.

Caprese quinoa salad

Caprese quinoa saladSource: Damn Delicious
Caprese quinoa salad  Damn Delicious

Tiny tomatoes, avocado and cheese make this quinoa-based non-salad so exciting, kids will forget they're not even eating pasta. Get the recipe here.

Crunchy beet and sprouts sushi

Crunchy beet and sprouts sushiSource: A Beautiful Mess
Crunchy beet and sprouts sushi  A Beautiful Mess

Basically a salad masquerading as a sushi roll, this is a fun way to include plenty of veggies at lunchtime. Add a few soy sauce packets for a fun lunch... and a napkin! Get the recipe here.

Sweet, savory and salty apple tomato sandwich

The farmer's lunchSource: fiveandspice/Food52
The farmer's lunch  fiveandspice/Food52

This lunch with homemade pickled green tomatoes, apples and cheese is the perfect amount of sweet, savory and salty in one sandwich. Get the recipe here.

Kale caesar salad

Kale Caesar saladSource: Gimme Some Oven
Kale Caesar salad  Gimme Some Oven

So your kid is too young to wait in line at Sweetgreen. That doesn't mean the salad habit can't start early. This kale is so dressed up in cheese and croutons, it barely looks like healthy food. Get the recipe here.

Healthy carrot macaroni and cheese

Healthy carrot macaroni and cheeseSource: Cook The Story
Healthy carrot macaroni and cheese  Cook The Story

Your kid will be the envy of the lunch table upon opening a steamy, hot thermos full of homemade mac and cheese. The pureed vegetables hidden in the cheese sauce can be your secret. Get the recipe here.

One-pot red lentil chili

One pot of this vegetarian protein-packed lunch equals over a week's worth of hot meals. Get the recipe here.

Creamy miso peanut chicken lettuce wraps

Creamy miso peanut chicken lettuce wrapsSource: Pinch of Yum
Creamy miso peanut chicken lettuce wraps  Pinch of Yum

Scoop chicken salad into lettuce cups in the morning before packing lunch or pack two separate containers for older kids to assemble themselves at lunchtime. Get the recipe here.