Here are healthy and easy school lunch ideas that are easy to put together, budget-friendly, and enjoyable for kids. If you’re stuck in a lunch rut, use these ideas and recipes as inspiration to invite more fun and variety.
- Quick and Easy Kids Lunch (Game Plan)
- Healthy School Lunch Ideas (Tips and Tricks)
- More Lunch Resources
- Kids Lunches with Breakfast Foods
- Easy Kids Sandwich Ideas for School
- Healthy Kids Lunch Ideas with Quesadilla
- Fun Snacky Lunches for Kids
- Easy School Lunch Ideas with Pasta
- Healthy Muffins for Lunch Box
- Dinner Leftovers for School Lunch
- May Also Be Interested In
- Healthy Lunch Idea for Kids - Lentil Veggie Quesadilla
Quick and Easy Kids Lunch (Game Plan)
If you've ever found yourself staring at the fridge or pantry for what feels like an eternity wondering what the heck you are going to pack for your child's lunch, you are not alone!
But there is help!
I will be honest with you. I do not enjoy lunch packing, and I do it because I have to. And what helps me get through this unrelenting task is having a game plan, a routine that truly simplifies and streamlines the process.
Allow me to introduce you to my Lunch Rotation System. Here's how it works.
First, take a look at what your child and family enjoy eating and categorize them. Then assign each to a specific day of the week (I'm sharing ours below).
For instance, Mondays are sandwiches, Tuesdays muffins, Wednesdays pasta, etc.
By doing so, you will save yourself from decision fatigue and gain back time, energy, and your sanity!
You might be wondering, “won’t my child get tired of this?” You'd be surprised by how much variety you can invite into the main component as well as the sides!
And before you know it, you will have a list of healthy lunches that you can rotate through on a weekly or monthly basis!
Healthy School Lunch Ideas (Tips and Tricks)
- Check with the school for any peanut or food restrictions that they may have.
- Keep food safety in mind always! None of these meal ideas need to be reheated but you do want to keep them cool.
- Try at home first. Try not to pack a completely new food as your child may find it intimidating.
- Your child may eat differently at school versus at home. Adjust how much you pack accordingly.
- Enlist the help of your child. Get them involved with menu planning and lunch packing. It's a great way to ensure they’ll have foods they want to eat, while also helping them make healthy choices.
- Not every lunch box has to have all 5 major food groups represented, but I encourage you to aim for at least 3. It's important to incorporate some source of protein, healthy fat, and/or fiber to provide the long-lasting energy that they'll need.
- Feel free to add or swap out any of the suggested finger foods.
More Lunch Resources
- Master List of Sandwich ideas for toddlers and kids
- Lunch for Toddlers (can be enjoyed at daycare or preschool)
- Lunch box ideas for kids
- 30 Bento Box School Lunch Ideas
- Healthy School Snack Ideas
Kids Lunches with Breakfast Foods
There is something about breakfast foods that everybody just loves! And they are easy and fun to make. They’re also a great way to use up any leftovers.
- Cream cheese and broccoli (finely chopped) waffle sandwich, animal crackers, carrots
- Pumpkin waffles, zucchini, tofu
- Nut/seed butter and banana waffle sandwich, carrots, peas
- Beet Pancake sandwich with Greek yogurt or cream cheese, hard boiled egg, fruit
- Banana pancake and date syrup sandwich, celery with nut/seed butter, pineapple
- English muffin pizza, fruit
- Yogurt with granola, dry cereal, fruit,
- Yogurt, banana date bread, bell pepper
- Overnight oats, fruit cup, grape tomatoes
- Vegetable omelette, parsnips, freeze dried fruit
- Pizza eggs, pita, raisins
- Vegetable baked oatmeal, yogurt tube, blueberries
- Vegetable french toast, strawberries, kidney beans
- Deconstructed breakfast tacos - scrambled eggs, cut up tortilla, black beans, salsa, cheese
Easy Breakfast Ideas for Toddlers
Easy Kids Sandwich Ideas for School
You can invite so much variety into sandwiches. Switch up the bread (like bagels, naan) get creative with fillings and shapes!
You can also cut into smaller pieces if your child struggles to eat halved sandwiches or serve deconstructed (slicing the bread and serving all the components separately).
- Nut/seed butter and jelly sandwich (try this sugar free strawberry jam!), carrots, vanilla wafers, yogurt tube
- Nut/seed butter and fruit (banana, berries) sandwich, cherry tomatoes, chickpeas
- Nut/seed butter and banana tortilla roll ups, carrots, veggie straws
- Vegetable tortilla roll ups, orange
- Ricotta and strawberry on Hawaiian bread, bell peppers, edamame
- Cream cheese and mashed butternut squash sandwich or quesadilla, edamame, carrots, cucumber, raspberries
- Cucumber cream cheese sandwich, blueberries, animal crackers
- Raspberry cream cheese sandwich, zucchini, granola bar
- Mini bagel sandwich with scrambled egg and cream cheese , cantaloupe, cherry tomatoes
- Hummus and grated carrot pita sandwich, fruit cup
- Hummus grilled cheese, pear, broccoli
For more: Master List of Sandwich Ideas
Healthy Kids Lunch Ideas with Quesadilla
You can cook it in a skillet on the day of or make ahead of time, refrigerate, and add straight to the lunch box. If your child hasn't had cold quesadilla, I suggest serving it at home so they can get used to it.
- Cream cheese and chicken quesadilla, grapes, celery
- Pizza quesadilla, mangoes, pretzels
- Mashed sweet potato and black bean quesadilla, salsa, freeze-dried strawberries
- Lentil veggie quesadilla (recipe below), strawberries
Fun Snacky Lunches for Kids
Consider doing a clean-out-the-fridge or pantry meal that requires very minimal prep work and no cooking.
What I highly suggest is to build up your freezer stash by doubling recipes, and while you have the cutting board out, prep all your produce in advance.
I've linked some easy baked goods recipes that freeze really well. All you have to do is thaw in the fridge overnight and add straight to the lunch box.
- Egg salad, crackers, grapes, sweet potatoes
- hard boiled egg , cheese, berries, cucumber
- Cottage cheese with fruit and crackers, celery with nut/seed butter
- Veggie nuggets, beet hummus, chicken, purple sweet potatoes, apples
- Zucchini fritters, white beans, applesauce
- Chicken, sweet potatoes, crackers, fruit
- Sweet potato cakes, cottage cheese, grapes
- Cookies (oatmeal, zucchini, or chickpea cookies), edamame, steam roasted carrots and parsnips
- Chickpea cakes, graham cracker, bell peppers
- Broccoli hummus dip, crackers, hard boiled egg, cucumber, carrots
- Pumpkin lentil bars, cheese, broccoli, red bell pepper, animal crackers
Easy School Lunch Ideas with Pasta
I personally don't like to bother with warming up food or packing in a thermos. I Therefore, all of the ideas below can be enjoyed cold.
- Hummus pasta, hard boiled eggs, watermelon
- Zucchini pesto pasta, chicken, fruit
- Hulk pasta, strawberries, crackers
- Chicken salad with pasta, peas, cherry tomatoes, apples
- Iron-rich pasta, cantaloupe, cookie
- Sweet potato sauce pasta, apples, granola bar
- Creamy broccoli pasta, chickpeas, grapefruit
- Buttered pasta, green peas, tofu, applesauce
- Beet meatballs, pasta, kabocha, kiwi, grape tomatoes, cucumber
Healthy Muffins for Lunch Box
I love muffins because you truly can pack in a lot of nutrition into them and they are generally loved by kids!
Serve alongside fruit/vegetable and protein, such as shredded or cubed chicken, eggs, yogurt, beans, tofu, cheese, etc.
- Spinach muffin, cheese, hard-boiled egg, fruit
- Veggie muffin, cottage cheese, bell pepper, fruit
- Yogurt muffin, zucchini, edamame, watermelon, veggie straws
Dinner Leftovers for School Lunch
If you aren’t already doing so, start serving dinner leftovers or other foods, that are normally eaten warm, cold or at room temperature. You may be surprised to find that they taste just fine without being reheated.
With repeated exposure at home, your child won't have trouble eating them at school. Yay to more easy options!
- Taco bar - with beans, cheese, corn, lettuce, guacamole/salsa, tortilla chips
- Deconstructed loaded sweet potatoes - with mashed sweet potatoes, sour cream, tomatoes, black beans
- Hamburger helper, avocado (be sure to squeeze some juice), fruit, muffin
- Korean chicken and potatoes, rice balls with sesame oil
- Salmon patties, hummus, veggie straws, pears
- Salmon quiche, tortilla, mangoes
- Shrimp cakes, granola bar, fruit
- Chicken bulgogi, rice cakes, seaweed sheets, zucchini, pear
May Also Be Interested In
Did you make this recipe? Leave a rating below and let me know how you liked the recipe! Your feedback means so much to me!
Healthy Lunch Idea for Kids - Lentil Veggie Quesadilla
- ½ cup cooked lentils (can use any variety), see note
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- 2-3 tablespoons salsa
- ¼ cup grated carrots
- a handful of baby spinach, roughly chopped
- ¼ cup shredded cheese (or more)
- 4 medium whole wheat tortilla
- In a medium bowl, roughly mash the lentils with potato masher or a fork. Add all the ingredients minus the cheese.
- Divide the mixture between two tortilla. Add cheese (you can add more if you wish). Top with remaining tortillas.
- Melt butter over medium heat in a skillet. Place quesadilla and cook for 3-5 minutes on each side, until golden brown and crispy
- Slice into thirds or quarters.
- I suggest cooking a large batch of lentils to enjoy throughout the week, like this quesadilla. Here's how to cook the lentils perfectly.
- Feel free to use whatever vegetables you wish - broccoli, zucchini, bell peppers, mashed sweet potatoes, corn, peas...
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