5 High Protein School Lunch Ideas

I have a secret: Parents worry too much about protein.

I’ve asked more than one pediatrician, and they’ve all confirmed that most kids get plenty. But no matter how many times I reassure parents — including myself, by the way — they (I mean, we) are not convinced.

To ease our concerns, I’ve come up with five easy, kid-friendly lunches that are high in protein to keep in heavy rotation. Because it’s not like these are bad for our kids, and they’re delicious too.


RELATED: School Lunch with Catherine McCord


Plus, I make extra for my workout days to ensure that I also have a healthy, high-protein lunch on hand for myself. Otherwise, the hunger hits and who knows what I’ll go for!


Leftover Chicken

If you’re anything like me, you cook chicken at least once a week. Whenever you do, be sure to make enough extra to pack for school lunch. Serve drumsticks plain, shred leftover roasted chicken or chop leftover chicken breast to go into lunch tacos, quesadillas, roll-ups, or school lunch bowls, or make chicken salad sandwiches.


Make-Ahead Bean Salad

When you need a quick, easy, hit of protein, this Make-Ahead Bean Salad is the answer. It’s super versatile and easy to make. In fact, you don’t even need a recipe.

I usually whip up a version on Sunday with whatever beans I have on hand and keep it around all week for at least one school lunch and one lunch for me too. In this version of my Make-Ahead Bean Salad, I use chickpeas and kidney beans, but you can certainly substitute and/or add black beans, cannellini beans, or whatever other beans you have on hand. Click on over for the full recipe, including my Simple Vinaigrette, which the perfect dressing for this!


Quinoa Bread

Okay, this Quinoa Bread may seem a little wacky, but it’s so easy and a game-changer if you give it a chance. It’s a bread-like snack that’s absolutely perfect topped with avocado, (more high-protein) Greek-style yogurt, a little sour cream or mustard and a few slices of lean ham.

The best part: the boys love this too.

You can make this using just one-ingredient other than water (quinoa), but I use everything bagel seasoningtoo, to give this big flavor.


Cheese Plate School Lunch

Packing a cheese plate in a lunch box might sound fancy, but it doesn’t have to be! I’m not suggesting that you spurge on gorgonzola or brie — unless, of course, you want to! — but rather use the structure of a cheese plate to move away from the same old sandwich routine.

Check out my video on how to pack a cheese plate for school lunch and read the description below it for specific cheese suggestions that are kid-friendly and affordable (think: cheddar, havarti with dill), and also ideas for what else to pack with them.


Hard Boiled Eggs

Hard boiled eggs are pretty much my answer to everything, and not only are they high in protein, but they are generally nutrient dense. My kids love them turned into egg salad; sliced for egg sandwiches on rye bread with grainy mustard and bread and butter pickles; halved and served with pretzels, hummus and a cheese stick (talk about high-protein!); and even smothered in a simple curry sauce served over rice (usually leftovers from one of my favorite 15-minute hail mary dinners).

Follow my easy foolproof method for making perfect hard boiled eggs to make a batch on Sunday and have them on hand for school lunch all week long.

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