Do you ever worry that your child isn’t getting enough protein at school?   Maybe you’re struggling trying to figure out protein ideas for school lunch boxes.

It’s a lot to think about every day.  I completely understand being a mom who’s currently packing lunches for three little kids.

I’ve also heard from a lot of parents these past few weeks who feel the same way.

Well, I want to ease your mind and make your protein pains disappear with some protein ideas for school lunch boxes.

There are countless protein options out there.  Plus protein is ‘hidden’ in everything.  Even some fruit, veggies, and bread have a few grams of this macronutrient!

So I really don’t want you to worry or feel stuck.

Let me share a few protein ideas for school lunch boxes that will hopefully give you some inspiration. This is a snapshot of the protein options that we included in my girls’ lunch boxes recently (and will rotate through often).

Curious Cookie Placemat

How much protein should you include in their lunch box?

I should mention that I always include at least TWO proteins for school every day.  There’s one for snack time and one for lunchtime.  This way I know they are getting enough nutrients to keep their blood sugar stable, which means they can focus at school and won’t come home feeling hangry at 4pm.  Because that’s no fun for anyone!

But in order to include two options per day, we need a decent variety of protein ideas for lunch boxes.  This way you don’t run out or find yourself rotating through the same ones, day after day.

Here’s an at at-a-glance view of protein ideas before I share our lunch and snack breakdown.

protein ideas for lunch box

So let’s take a peek at proteins I include in my children’s lunch box.

Protein ideas for school lunch boxes


  • Snack: Hardboiled egg
  • Lunch: Pizza (has cheese and chicken)


  • Snack:  Tahini on a sandwich with banana (I also put it in celery sticks, etc)
  • Lunch: Shrimp



  • Snack: Cheese
  • Lunch:  Chicken skewer with hummus


  • Snack: Energy balls with hemp seeds
  • Lunch: Mini muffins topped with sunflower seed butter

protein ideas for lunch box

Now you might be thinking…

Won’t the proteins in their lunch box go bad in their lunch box?

How do you keep it cool or warm it up?

Here’s my secret…

Since we leave for school around 8:30 am and lunch is 3 hours later, I tell the girls to eat their “fresh foods” first so they don’t go bad.

That means they usually have their yogurt, chicken, and eggs (and other animal proteins) within 3 hours of leaving the fridge.

By that time it’s room temperature.

Note: We’ve gotten used to eating things at room temp here.  However, if I were to serve something like soup or chili that needs to be hotter, I would warm it up and put it in their thermos.

I hope that helps you out a bit when it comes to protein ideas for school lunch boxes.

What if my child won’t eat protein?

Most protein foods are challenging from a sensory perspective.  So please don’t fret as there are ways to make your child more comfortable with proteins so you have more options to work with when packing lunches.  Firstly, sensory exposure and interactions are critical.  If your child isn’t comfortable with how a protein food looks, feels, smells, or tastes – progress stops there. Especially if there are any negative reactions or associations with eating.

That’s exactly why I created this transformational mealtime tool called the Curious Cookie Mat.  It takes your child on a fun ‘food journey’, where they have a unique opportunity to explore foods (including protein foods) using their individual senses.  Step–by step. On their own. No pressure. All fun!  This reusable food adventure mat is the reason why kids are trying new foods they never would before.  Take a peek here!

Curious Cookie Placemat