The school year can get pretty hectic. These easy school lunch ideas for kids will make packing lunches a breeze.
You’ll have just one less thing to worry about during the school year.
No more running around in the morning unsure of what to pack. With 120 lunchbox ideas, you won’t have to listen to your kids complain of boredom. The variations are endless!
Easy School Lunch Ideas For Kids
The kid lunch ideas are broken down into different categories.
- Main course
- Snacks and sweet treats
- Fruits and vegetables
All the different category combinations give you over 120 kid-friendly lunch ideas for school.
By the way, this bento-style school lunch box is an awesome way to separate your kid’s food items into separate compartments.
It’s also leakproof, comes in different colors, and will save you money since you won’t have to buy sandwich bags.
Here are some general guidelines and tips for using all of the lunch ideas mentioned later in this post.
Pick items in each category when you’re packing lunches.
Each section will specify how many items to choose from each category.
Mix and match from the categories daily or weekly so your child won’t get bored.
For example, repeat the main course with a different snack to make it less repetitive.
Customize everything for your child.
If your child needs extra veggies or can’t eat nuts because of allergies or school restrictions, take this list as a general guideline and tweak it as you see fit.
Maybe you don’t give your child juice or some other foods on the list, and that’s okay; just customize it to fit their dietary needs.
If your child is a picky eater, sit down with them and make a list of food choices they enjoy.
Save money on school lunch food and supplies.
Here are some great apps that’ll save you cash when grocery shopping and getting lunchbox essentials.
- Ibotta: Get cashback when shopping in-store and online.
- Swagbucks: Earn free gift cards to places like Target, Walmart, Amazon, Paypal, and more. All you have to do is watch videos and take surveys, so easy! You’ll receive a $5 bonus just for signing up.
Kid-Friendly Lunch Ideas
Main Course (Choose 1)
- Italian Sandwich: Pepperoni, Salami & Mozzarella Cheese
- Peanut Butter* (or nut/seed butter of their liking) and Jelly
- Ham and Cheese
- Turkey, Avocado & Sprouts
- Tuna Plain or With Celery
- Egg Salad
- Salami & Cheese
- Peanut Butter* and Banana
- Cucumber & Cream Cheese
- Turkey & Cheese
- Pita Pizza Pocket: Spread pizza sauce inside pita bread and stuff with mozzarella cheese, pepperoni, and their favorite pizza toppings.
- Roast Beef & Cheese
- Club: Turkey, Ham, Cheese, Lettuce & Regular or Turkey Bacon
* SunButter is a great alternative to peanut butter or other nut butters if your child has allergies or if the school doesn’t allow nuts or nut products to be taken to school.
- Hummus & Veggie
- Chicken Cesar Salad
- Peanut Butter or SunButter, Banana and Honey Roll-up
- Chicken Ranch
- Lettuce Wraps (Use lettuce instead of a tortilla)
- Hummus, Meat & Veggie
- Veggies & Cream Cheese
- Rotisserie Chicken
- Any of the sandwiches listed above can be made into wraps.
- Cold Pizza
- Chicken Nuggets
- Lunch Meat, Cheese & Crackers
- Nachos: Healthy Baked Kid Nacho Recipe from Thriving Home
- Pasta Salad
- Chili & Cornbread
- Bagel with cream cheese, avocado and sprouts
- Steak or Chicken Quesadilla
- Shredded chicken and barbecue dipping sauce
- Rice and Beans
- Baked egg cups: Check out my post 10 Egg Muffin Recipes for ideas!
- Mac ‘n Cheese
- Mini Corn Dogs
- Taco Salad: Kid Friendly Taco Salad Recipe from Food Network’s Healthy Eats
- Sloppy Joe’s (These are still tasty cold.)
Snacks & Sweet Treats (Choose 1-2)
- Trail Mix
- Granola Bars
- Jerky or Beef Sticks
- Veggie Chips
- String Cheese
- Yogurt & Granola
- Hummus (Eat with veggies or crackers)
- Salami & Cream Cheese
- Hard Boiled Egg or Deviled Eggs
- Laughing Cow or Babybel Cheese
- Individually Packed Guacamole (Wholly Guacamole brand is great) & Tortilla Chips
- Crackers: Saltines, Goldfish, Annie’s brand etc.
- Cold Cuts & Cheese
- Kind Bars
- Pirate’s Booty Rice or Corn Puffs (Yes, the name is hilarious!)
- Celery or Apple and Nut Butter or SunButter
- Chex Mix or Cheerios (dry)
- Pita Chips
- Graham Crackers
- Roasted Crunchy Chickpeas (They come repackaged in all different flavors or you can make your own. Ranch is yummy!)
- Sun Chips
- Pumpkin Seeds
- Pepperoni and Mozzarella Cheese
- Rice Cakes
- Banana and Peanut Butter
- Homemade Baked Chips or Store Bought: Here’s a baked chip recipe from Super Healthy Kids.
If you’re looking for a great snack for when your kids come home from school, this berry and chocolate frozen yogurt bark is easy to make.
It’s healthy too, but your kids will never know!
- Rice Krispie Treats
- Fruit Snacks
- A handful of chocolate chips alone or with nuts
- Pudding or Jello
- Chocolate Covered Strawberries
- Fun Size Candy
- Fruit Roll-up/Fruit Leather
- Apple slices with peanut butter & marshmallows
- Yogurt Covered Raisins
Fruits & Veggies (Choose 2)
Note: Some veggies mentioned below are technically a fruit (like tomatoes) or in another food group.
However, it’s common for people to think of these veggies as fruit, so they’re listed in this section to make everything simple.
- Mandarins: Cuties, Halos
- Applesauce: Plain, Cinnamon, Strawberry, etc.
- Dried Fruit
- Freeze Dried Fruit
- Cherry Tomatoes
- Baby Carrots
- Sliced Cucumber
- Sliced Bellpepper Strips
- Snap Peas
- Winter Squash
- Baby Corn
- Roasted Veggies & Ranch
Drinks (Choose 1)
- Juice (100%)*
- Plain or Chocolate Milk
- Sparkling Water Plain or With Lime/Lemon Wedges (This one is hit or miss, some kids do not like this.)
- Water Diffused With Fruit (Lemon, strawberries, etc.)
Helpful Tip: If you are packing your lemonade or fruit juice in a thermos, you can always dilute it with water to reduce sugar.
Free School Lunch List PDF
All the ideas mentioned above are included in this helpful downloadable school lunch list PDF to simplify your lunch planning.
How to Use the School Lunchbox Ideas List
Here are some pointers for using the lunch list.
1. Print the list out and put it where you see it often.
If you put this list where you can easily access it, you will never run out of ideas for packing your child’s lunch!
2. Go through and highlight things your child would like.
You guys can even sit down and do this together.
There is space at the end of the list to write in all your child’s favorite foods.
Kid Lunch Ideas Prep Tips
1. If possible, try to pack lunches the night before, or even pick one or two nights a week to do all your prep for the week.
If you’re already busy scrambling around in the morning getting your kids ready for school, having their lunch boxes packed ahead of time will make everything easier.
2. If your kids are old enough, enlist their help.
Let them bag snacks or wash fruit. This will not only help you out but teach them valuable life skills.
3. Buy in bulk at discount stores and be on the lookout for sales.
If you plan everything ahead of time and shop smart, you can save a lot of money on lunches.
Here are some cheap meal ideas for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Final Thoughts on Back to School Lunches
These kid lunch ideas for school will make your week easier. If you haven’t already, download the helpful school lunch ideas printable so you never run out of ideas again.
Comment below and tell me your favorite lunch you pack your child!
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About the Author
Annie Brown is a frugal living expert and the founder of Savvy Honey.
Her expert advice has also been featured in Yahoo Finance, BuzzFeed, GOBankingRates, Woman's Day, MSN, The Spruce Crafts, and more.