One of the easiest healthy lunch ideas for our kids is quesadillas! We used leftover mashed sweet potatoes and black beans to make this lunch extra healthy. It is quick and easy, and the kids loved them!
Let’s face it. Even adults can get bored of sandwiches for lunch! Thinking outside the box, you can come up with some pretty clever non-sandwich lunch ideas, but one of our favorites is quesadillas. Not only are they quick and easy, but for lunch, it’s just the right amount of food.
For lunch, whether at school or at home, combining all the food groups (like we did in these quesadillas!) ensures kids are getting the right nutrients to hold them through the afternoon. Especially if (like my son) they reach for a bowl of ramen noodles for lunch (not balanced at all!). Instead, including carbs, protein, fat, and fiber can be filling enough to keep them fueled for a few hours at least.
Quesadillas are generally made with flour tortillas and cheese in the middle. It’s no wonder kids love so much! But you can improve the balance of the meal by adding veggies and protein to your quesadillas!
The ingredients we used to make these quesadillas included
- Whole wheat tortillas– While you can use flour tortillas for your quesadillas, using whole wheat tortillas can increase the fiber and vitamin B in your lunch!
- Black beans– This is where we can add some protein and fiber to our quesadilla lunch! Black beans are a staple at our house, and we love to add them to many of our lunches for getting in that protein and fiber and keeping things balanced.
- Sweet potato– This is my FAVORITE part of this quesadilla! We often used leftover sweet potatoes from dinner the night before. After cooking our sweet potatoes in a slow cooker, we usually have plenty leftover. We use mashed sweet potatoes for pancakes, muffins, and these quesadillas.
- Spinach– Another way to add nutrients and fiber is spinach! We’ve been adding spinach to our quesadillas, no matter what other ingredients we’ve included. It’s a great way to introduce kids to this veggie, in a way that won’t be overwhelming. Great for picky eaters!
- Cheese- the hallmark of a quesadilla is the cheese. It’s really not a quesadilla without it! It makes the beans and spinach stick to the tortilla. But it also blends so nicely with the sweet potato, that my kids actually think it’s all cheese, and don’t even notice the sweet potato.
- Seasonings– Finally, to give it that southwestern flair, taco seasonings like chili powder should be included! You can make your own taco seasoning (we have a homemade taco seasoning recipe here and always use it for our quesadillas)
If you want to try using a quesadilla maker, it’s a great way for kids to be involved without them having to reach for a hot skillet. Serve these quesadillas with some sliced apples on the side, and it is the perfect lunch idea; especially when your kids are home this summer!
For more healthy lunch ideas for kids beyond quesadillas check out:
- 15 Easy and Fresh Healthy Lunch ideas
- 5 Nut-free lunch box ideas
- 10 Thermos ideas for lunch
- Lunch packing printable for kids
Sweet Potato Quesadilla
- 1 medium sweet potato
- 15 ounce black beans, canned
- 1/4 cup cilantro
- 1 tablespoon taco seasoning
- 8 medium tortilla, whole wheat
- 2 ounce cheddar cheese
- 1 cup spinach
- 2 medium apple
- Poke sweet potato with a fork a few times and microwave on high for 5 minutes or until soft. Allow to cool to the touch.
- Cut open potato and spoon the flesh out into a bowl; mash.
- Drain and rinse beans and add to the potato, along with the chopped cilantro and taco seasoning; mix well.
- Grate the cheese and roughly chop the spinach.
- Heat a large skillet over medium and add a tortilla. Spread with 1/4 of the potato mixture, top with cheese, spinach and another tortilla. Cook for 3-4 minutes, then flip and continue to cook until cheese has melted and tortillas have browned. Remove from heat and cut into quarters; repeat until all remaining ingredients have been used.
- Serve quesadillas with sliced apples on the side.
Thanks for reading today. We’d love to hear your ideas about other ingredients you like to include in your kids quesadillas! Also, do you pan fry, use a quesadilla maker, or just microwave them so the cheese melts? Let us know in the comments!
I'm a registered dietitian, mom of 4, avid lover of food and strong promoter of healthy habits. Here you will find lots of delicious recipes full of fruits and veggies, tips for getting your kids to eat better and become intuitive eaters and lots of resources for feeding your family.Learn More about Natalie