School and play take a lot of energy out of kids. So, it’s important to send them off with lunches that fuel them and give them what they need to be smart, focused, and healthy throughout the day.

Healthy School Lunches and Snacks
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But many processed and packaged foods made specifically for school lunches—even some yogurts—have artificial preservatives, flavors, and colors that aren’t great for children’s diets or health. To help you keep this junk out of their lunchboxes, while still making it easy and convenient for you, we’ve come up with some healthy back-to-school meal ideas.

No Processed Food in School Lunches

MINI TURKEY MEATBALLS

Ingredients

1 ¼  pounds lean turkey breast

¼ cup panko bread crumbs

¼ cup finely diced carrots, zucchini, and onion

¼ cup of flax seeds (we usually eyeball it and use a handful)

1 tablespoon Italian seasoning

Sea salt to taste

Place all ingredients in a bowl and combine until everything is incorporated. Using about 1 tablespoon of the mixture roll into mini meatballs. Honest Jessica suggests using a measuring spoon, a melon baller, or a small ice cream scoop to make even shaped balls. You bake them on a baking sheet covered in foil in the oven at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until cooked through.

Honest Tip: These mini turkey meatballs are great individually, served with pasta and homemade marinara sauce, or cut up and served with greek yogurt or hummus and cucumbers and tomatoes in a mini whole grain pita (as photographed above).

And of course, kids will still want to eat the fun stuff like chips or fruit roll-up (ours do!). No worries, though. Everything in moderation…or simply make a healthy version of your kiddo’s favorites at home.

Honest friend and Pure Mamas‘ Juli Novotny’s kale chips make for a great alternative to the beloved potato variety. Our families literally gobble these up because they’re tasty, perfectly crunchy, and colored green (kids love the novelty!). And Juli promises her recipe is the best thing on the planet.

SOUR CREAM & ONION KALE CHIPS

Healthy Kale Chips - Great Potato Chip Alternative

Ingredients

1 ½ cup soaked raw cashews (skip if you have nut allergies in your family)

2-3 heads kale, curly or flat

1 small red or white onion or 3/4 large, chopped

1 heaping tablespoon white miso

1 ½  tablespoon nutritional yeast

1 small pinch spicy red peppers

2 pinches sea salt

Wash and tear kale into small pieces.  In a blender add all of the ingredients, minus the kale. Blend on high until VERY smooth, no chunks. Massage the sauce into the kale pieces. Dehydrate at about 110 degrees for 5-6 hours, or until crunchy. You’ll probably have some extra sauce. It makes a great dressing for any dark green salad. Store in the fridge to keep them crispy for more than a day or two. ENJOY. Beware: they are addicting.

Honest Tip: For a quicker version of kale chips that are equally yummy, consider baking them. Simply tear one head of kale into chip-sized pieces (removing stems and tough center veins), toss and coat with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and sprinkle with sea salt to taste.  Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet and cook for 20 minutes, or until crisp, at 300 degrees.

Tips for Healthy Eating and Preparing School Lunches

Still looking for more inspiration? Sites like Weelicious and Out of the Box Food offer fresh ideas for the lunchbox set.

What do your kids eat? Share your favorite school meals…Comment below, Instagram or Tweet a photo using #HonestLunch or post on our Facebook page!

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