I put together this list of the Best Lunch Ideas for Kids after I got tired of hearing my kids complain about how tired they were of having the same thing every day. I don’t think quick on my feet so I needed a ready list to offer them when they ask for new ideas.
As a parent, it can be extremely hard to try to think of different food options for your child each and every day. After a while, the lunches become so repetitive that the kids almost dread opening their lunch boxes.
Another peanut butter and jelly sandwich? No thanks, Mom.
It’s hard to plan ahead and shop for all the meals for the week for your family. Add to that the requirement to come up with meals that everyone will actually enjoy eating and a great enough variety that they won’t get bored and this job becomes downright painful.
If you are running out of ideas for the lunches for your children for the week and need a little bit of inspiration, here are what I consider the best lunch ideas for kids.
These are all simple lunches that you can make for your child with ease. Better yet, share these ideas with your kids and empower them to make their own lunches!
Best Lunch Ideas for Kids
The problem with sandwiches is that they get boring. And also, they’re too “lunch-y.”
The easiest way to jazz up lunch is to incorporate things that the kids naturally love. In the suggestions below, I’ve organized them by the feature that makes them appealing to kids.
Check out the Top 12 Best Lunch Ideas for Kids:
Lunches Based on Kids’ Favorite Foods
Let’s face it, kids are picky eaters. Not ALL kids, but definitely a lot of them. Thankfully, there are some foods that have almost universal kid appeal and we’re putting that to use in these lunches.
Almost every kid loves pizza. Thankfully, bagel pizzas are super easy to make and pack for lunch.
All you need is half a bagel, some marinara sauce, cheese and toppings of their choice. Pop in a toaster oven long enough to melt the cheese, then wrap in aluminum foil.
Almost every kid loves tacos so all you have to do is make something that looks or tastes like tacos to win them over.
Pack taco salad in a small storage container. Pack tortilla chips or Doritos to dip in the taco salad and they’ll love it even more.
Or, heat up the meat and place it in a thermos, then pack all of the other taco ingredients. If you use shredded chicken, kids usually don’t even mind if it’s not warm.
Another food most kids get excited about is pancakes. Throw in some bacon or breakfast sausage and fresh fruit and you’ve got a meal!
You can either fill the crêpes ahead of time or let the kids assemble them at lunch. Either way, using crêpes instead of sandwich bread magically makes the meal more interesting.
Okay, technically, sliders are still just sandwiches. But like crêpes, something about swapping out regular sandwich bread for small rolls is enough to make sandwiches more appealing.
What child doesn’t love spaghetti? And the best part is you can make a big batch to freeze for later.
Simply warm the spaghetti and sauce in the morning and place it in a thermos to keep it warm until lunch.
Meatballs are one of my favorite appetizers to make when I need something hearty. Whether you make your own or use frozen meatballs, just warm them up before school along with your favorite sauce (marinara, BBQ, and sweet & sour are popular choices). Store in a thermos until lunch.
Veggies & Noodles
If your child is anything like mine, noodles can be eaten at any point in time during the day. My kids are always begging me to buy ramen noodles.
We’ve reached a happy compromise. I’ll let them pack them for lunch as long as they add some nutrients. A handful or two of mixed vegetables and a hard-boiled egg are all it takes to transform ramen into a meal.
Early on I discovered my kids paid more attention to the presentation of a meal than they did to the ingredients. If I could make a meal in the shape of a ball or use sticks in any way, I could get them to eat almost anything.
These best lunch ideas rely on that trick of fun shapes and serving style.
My kids love muffin tin dinners so I decided to introduce the concept to lunch. All you have to do is make up a batch of savory muffins they can easily grab and toss in their lunchboxes.
The easiest way to make some is to make a cornbread mix and add your cooked sausage and perhaps some diced bell peppers to the batter. Bake as normal, cool completely, and store in an airtight container.
Children love eating anything on a stick. Skewer whatever ingredients you want and voilà, you have a Lunchable on a stick.
Popular and easy items you can use are: cheese cubes, olives, sliced cucumber, pickle slices, deli meat, shrimp, grape tomatoes, pineapple chunks, strawberries, and grapes.
Ham, Cheese and Pickle Straws
Literally, all that it takes is a piece of ham with a piece of cheese on top, wrapped around a dill pickle. Seriously tastes delicious. Better make a couple extra, just in case.
When my kids realized that sandwich wraps were just repackaged sandwiches or salads, they became less appealing. Then, I discovered that if I rolled the tortilla tighter and cut it into small sections, the pinwheel version was all of a sudden so much better.
Cream cheese works really well to hold the pinwheel together so I usually always include it. But other than that you can let your imagination go wild.
Add a slice of ham or turkey, a slice of cheese and perhaps some sliced olives. Maybe make one with some black beans, corn, and avocado. There are literally dozens of different pinwheel recipes you can try!
Simple to make! All you need is greek yogurt (we use vanilla flavored), a bit of granola, some fruit and perhaps a dash of honey.
Kids love it because it looks an awful lot like dessert. They don’t need to know they’re getting calcium, fiber, and antioxidants!
Don’t be discouraged just because you are feeling burnt out of ideas on making lunches! Hopefully, you’ve found a few meals to get excited about in the list of the best lunch ideas above.
The cool part about making a unique lunch option for your child is that you get to have fun experimenting and thinking of fun new ways to help them enjoy food, too! Try a few of the suggestions above and add to the list as well!
Before long, you may find that you have so many ideas, you’ll never have a shortage of lunch ideas again!