Low Carb School Lunch Ideas

Low Carb School Lunch Ideas

We know that school lunch can be a minefield, and it can take some creativity to keep your kid excited (and distracted from the chocolate milk and potato chips otherwise circulating the cafeteria). We’ve surveyed the blogosphere to find the best low carb school lunch ideas, both classic and creative.


The Staples:

Vegetables: There’s little more nutritious than crisp raw veggies. Choose celery, cucumbers, radishes, carrots, bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, snap peas… the list goes on! It’s easy to find recipes for low-carb dips – peanut butter, mayo, cheese, avocado and even yogurt-based – to keep things interesting.

Cheese: It’s the rare child that would turn down a cheese stick or a Babybel. Of course, these simple, individually wrapped cheeses barely scratch the surface of the cheese world, which offers an almost endless variety.

Cured Meats: Ham, bologna, and smoked turkey are already classic kiddo fare. The discerning child might add salamis and dry-cured hams to the list. And how about beef jerky? There are some mild health concerns associated with excessive consumption of cured meats, so a light touch might be best here, but it’s tough to beat the convenience and appeal of these protein sources.

Hardboiled Eggs: What’s else is as wholesome as an egg?

Fruit: A naturally sweet and refreshing highlight, if your T1 kid can tolerate a bit of fruit without a bad glucose spike. Blackberries and raspberries are your best bets: each has only a few net carbs per tiny child-sized handful.

Avocado: A special fruit that deserves its own category. Avocado is high in fiber, high in health fats, and uniquely low in carbs, with a rich texture and mild flavor that kids can’t get enough of.

Nuts (if your school allows them): Dr. Bernstein, in his wisdom, suggests that we avoid nuts because they are too delicious to resist. Luckily, this won’t be an issue for a portion-controlled lunch. Pecans, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, peanuts, walnuts, almonds: they’re all terrific sources of protein and are packed tight with energy from healthy fats. Just be sparing with cashews and pistachios, which have sneaky big carbohydrate contents.


Some Assembly Required: 

Leftovers: Roasted chicken, grilled salmon, medium-rare steak, boiled sausages: just make a little extra for dinner and you’ve got a no-effort source of healthy protein for tomorrow’s lunch.

Low-carb “Dorito” cheese crisps: Does your ketokid ever get jealous of his friends’ junk food? That’s a problem easily solved with these flavorful and simple cheesy crackers. Taco seasoning transforms sliced cheese into a punchy crispy snack. Recipe from the great Carolyn Ketchum for ASweetlife.

Lettuce wraps: Put an end to the sandwich’s unlawful tyranny over lunch by wrapping your child’s favorite meat, cheese and/or veggies in leafy greens. Adventurous eaters might prefer the Asian Lettuce Wraps at Joy Filled Eats.

Meat wraps: Is the lettuce a tough sell? Use your turkey, ham or bologna as the wrap, rolling up cheese, olives, veggies, dips and securing with toothpicks. Our Paleo Life has some nice ideas.

Low-carb pizza: Introduce your children to the beloved adult ritual of cold pizza with the original Fathead Pizza recipe. Make two pies at night – one for dinner, one for school lunch – and let your kids get in the act, choosing and sprinkling their own toppings.

Mini quiches: Basically little frittatas baked in a muffin tin, the mini quiche uses a healthy base of eggs and accepts whatever added ingredients your little person prefers. Bacon? Cheese? Peppers? Tasteaholics shows how it’s done.

Keto Meatballs: Meatballs are a naturally almost-keto recipe that just need the breadcrumbs removed. Some replace the crumbs with crushed pork rinds, almond flour or even zucchini. Others just up the cheese, like this recipe from Perfect Keto. Either way, you’re set for lunch, and a big batch freezes very well.

Low-carb Baked Goods: Kids will recognize the extra effort you put in to make them a sweet treat. There’s a whole world of excellent low-carb baking out there. Some of our favorite recipes include Snickerdoodle Muffins and Salted Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies.

ASweetLife has published many other recipes that are great low carb school lunch ideas. Check out our 2018 article on the topic.

Ross Wollen
Ross Wollen

Ross Wollen is a chef and writer based in Maine's Midcoast region. Before moving East, Ross was a veteran of the Bay Area restaurant and artisanal food scenes; he has also worked as a food safety consultant. As executive chef of Belcampo Meat Co., Ross helped launch the bone broth craze. Since his diagnosis with Type 1 diabetes in 2017, he has focused on exploring the potential of naturally low-carb cooking. Follow Ross on Twitter: @RossWollen

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4 years ago

I just got an email from a different diabetes mailing list about lunches for diabetic kids. “Diabetic kids don’t need special lunches, they can have the same lunches the rest of the kids have.” Because, yes, you know it – “you just have to adjust their insulin dosages, and here’s some great 50-75 grams of carbs lunch ideas.” SMH. If I had a diabetic child I think I would be reading more Ross Wollen and not reading things that would set my kid on a blood sugar roller coaster!

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