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School Lunch Ideas to Fill Your Kid’s Lunchbox

School Lunch Ideas to Fill Your Kid’s Lunchbox

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Jose Luis Pelaez Inc/DigitalVision via Getty Images

Avocado Toast Grilled Cheese


Homemade Gummy Bears

© RuPhoto |

Turns out popular candies can be made healthier at home. Flavored gelatin, unflavored gelatin and water are all you need to bring these homemade gummy bears to life. If you and your child enjoy a bit of a sour candy kick, add a teaspoon of lemon juice before refrigerating.

Mixed Berry Jam


Fresh Cut Betties

No-Bake Cherry Granola Bars

Courtesy of Choose Cherries

Gooey, Creamy Mac and Cheese

Jacqui Wedewer/The Daily Meal

Cinnamon Apple Rounds

Strawberry Hand Pies

Courtesy of Barbara Dawson

Salted Caramel Dipped Grapes

Penne Pasta Salad

Very Vanilla Fruit Salad

Flaky Deli Slices

White Chocolate Rainbow Popcorn

Courtesy of Jason Goldstein

Ants on a Log

Brent Hofacker/Shutterstock

Turkey Cuban Slider Sandwiches

Courtesy of Ready Set Eat

Apple Pie Energy Bars

Rice Krispies Treats

© L Hill |

Taco Snack Mix

20 of The Best “Non-Sandwich” Lunchbox Ideas

Kids all around the world are heading back to school or even starting for the first time this week and I know for many parents the thought of resuming “packed lunch duties” fills them with dread!

Trying to balance what your picky eating child wants for lunch with what you think will be nutritious and filling is not always easy.

I know my kids love nothing more than a simple ham or cheese sandwich but I’m always trying to widen our lunch box repertoire.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with the humble sandwich a couple of times a week but when you’re trying to introduce more variety into your family’s diet, it’s good to have some other options on hand too.

So here’s 20 of my favourite healthy and filling recipe ideas to liven up your child’s lunch box this new school year!

Really easy to make and packed with nutritious ingredients, these Salmon Pinwheels make an excellent lunch for kids either at home or packed into a lunchbox!

These little frittatas are a lunchbox hit! Enjoy them cold in the lunchbox or hot as an easy dinner, whatever way you eat them, these noodle and veggie frittatas are super yummy and so easy to make! These are perfect for upping your lunchbox game and making something fun and different that the kids will love.

Easy one-bowl Savoury Pizza Muffins, perfect for the kids’ lunch boxes or as an afternoon snack! These lunchbox muffins are so easy to make, all the ingredients are mixed together in one bowl and then baked in a muffin tin in the oven.

5 ingredient eggy quinoa cups are perfect for the lunchbox! If your kids aren’t fans of quinoa, this might be a good starter recipe, as it is absorbed by the eggs and the flavour of the cheese, just making them a little crunchier than quiche.

These Mac n Cheese Muffins (with peas!) are the perfect addition to a kids’ lunchbox. This is pretty much just a classic Mac n Cheese recipe with peas added for a few extra nutrients!

A delicious and super easy pizza flavoured pasta salad recipe. Ready in less than 15 minutes and perfect for lunch boxes, picnics and BBQ’s this summer!

This cucumber sushi for kids recipe is seaweed free, easy to make and so far kid approved.

These frittata fingers are packed, not only with cherry tomatoes, but also peas and peppers. Eggs are a really nutritious source of protein, making a healthy and delicious lunch. If you want to make these frittata fingers ahead of time, they can be cooled and then kept covered in the fridge for up to 2 days.

These muffins are gluten-free, but nice and filling and great for fuelling small tummies for breakfast, lunch and in the lunchbox! They freeze and defrost well.

Super easy to make and packed with mixed vegetables, these Veggie Pizza Puff Pastry Roll Ups are sure to go down a treat. These Pizza Roll Ups are absolutely delicious eaten still warm but they also taste great the next day too and make the perfect lunchbox treat!

Wholemeal yoghurt dough requires 2 ingredients, yep, that’s it, 2 ingredients, self-raising wholemeal flour and greek yoghurt. Then the filling has 2 ingredients, meaning you only need 4 ingredients to make these cheese and leek wholemeal yoghurt dough scrolls.

A delicious combination of avocado and strawberry makes this macaroni salad recipe the perfect summer meal and great for kids!

All kids love food shaped liked balls. Think about it, bliss balls, meatballs, they have kid appeal and these salmon and veggie balls are no different. Combining some of our favourite flavours, they have major kid approval! And, they go on skewers in the lunchbox, and we all know that food on a stick is a major winner for kids!

These Ham & Cheese Wraps and folded up like mini burritos and dry fried quickly to make them melting on the inside but soft and warm on the outside. So delicious and perfect for lunch at home or a packed lunch at school!

These are an upgrade from your usual mini pizza bases. And they are easy to make and gluten free. The brown rice mini pizzas also freeze well so they are perfect for back to school! Top them how you like, knowing that the base is super healthy.

Packed full of protein from eggs and cheese and with lots of added veggies, this nutritious lunch will help keep kids full all afternoon. Serve it with wholemeal bread or pitta bread for some slow release carbs and some raw veggie sticks on the side.

I think one of the best things about these Quick and Easy Lunchbox Quiches is that the flavours are adaptable. You can tailor them to what your child may like.

Delicious kid friendly sausage rolls packed with carrot and courgette. Everyone will love these Hidden Veggie Sausage Rolls!

Delicious savoury muffins packed full of vegetables like spinach and peppers. As well as being super delicious, these savoury muffins are really easy to make. Everything can be mixed in one bowl by hand so there’s no special equipment required.

These muffins are tasty yet mild, perfect for little taste buds. I used broccoli and courgette / zucchini in my recipe but I often use other veg depending on what I have in my fridge. It’s also a great way to use up any leftover cooked veg that you have hanging round!

Other Recipe Collections You Might Enjoy:

15 of The Best Finger Food Dinners For Kids – Our top 15 dinner recipes that can be served as finger food or eaten with your hands! Brilliant for picky eaters to create a more fun dinnertime experience.

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Looking for lunchbox ideas beyond sandwiches? Try this Spanish Omelette&hellip

The 89 Most Delish Easy Lunch Box Recipes

Everyone on the schoolyard is going to want to be trading their tuna sandwich for your kids pig in a quilt. Plus, get more healthy lunch ideas for kids!

When a recipe is this good, it doesn't matter what your desk neighbors think.

The new best way to enjoy your favorite sandwich.

Every fall ingredient comes together to make one bountiful and delicious bowl.

These lunch box ideas will most likely require the use of a thermos. Amazon has a huge selection of thermoses at different sizes to accommodate everyone in the family. Some of them even come with portable spoons attached to either the side or on the cap.

Other great ideas to keep foods warm are to use glass containers (if school permitted and safe with child) and wrap towels or foil-wrap it.

For dry foods such as chicken nuggets, wrap them in parchment paper, then seal in a foil packet tightly.

(Note: I've found that chicken nuggets can get soggy in a thermos so my choice would be to use the parchment paper/foil option).

20 Easy-to-Pack, Healthy Desserts for Kids’ Lunches

The perfect end to our series on healthy school lunches! Filled with much more than just empty calories, these deliciously nutritious treats are a terrific way to finish off your kids’ lunch boxes! Be careful, though … these healthy desserts are so tempting, and so sweet-tooth satisfying, your family may gobble them up before they ever make it to a lunch box!

It’s hard sending your kiddos off to school, isn’t it? Off into the big world on their own?

Don’t you sometimes wish you could secretly stow away and go along – quietly reminding them to turn in their homework, or giving them little pick-me-up hugs?

We often think that’s why parents will pack sugary desserts in school lunches, probably much more often than they’d dole out sugary treats at home. It’s one little way you can brighten your kids’ day, like a little hug when you can’t actually be there to hug your little ones yourself.

And yet, what our kiddos REALLY need is complex carbs, protein and other solid, sustaining nutrients to get them through the rest of the day, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, alert and energized and ready to learn.

So today, we tried to find the perfect crossroads of sweet treats and nutrition, with healthier desserts you can actually feel a lot better about packing in their lunches!

These recipes are sweet and satisfying, for sure. Your kids will loooooove them and feel special when they open their lunch boxes to find a yummy little “hug” from you.

Even better, though – you’ll love these recipes, too, knowing that they’re much more than just rampant sugar and empty calories. After you check out our post on lunch box main dishes , and fill in around the edges of with some of the healthy school snack ideas and lunch box sides dishes we posted last week, these desserts are a great way to finish off a totally kid-friendly yet really nutritious lunch box!

We looked for treats that would pack well and can be made ahead – perfect for school lunches. But we’re pretty sure you and your kids will like these healthier dessert recipes so much, they’ll find their way into regular rotation for lots of other dessert times, too!

One note … some of these lunch box treats do include nuts, so if your school has nut-free policies, you might want to save those recipes for dessert at home. Nuts are a terrific source of filling protein and healthy fats, though, so we wanted to include several recipes with nuts for those of you whose schools have nut-friendly lunchroom zones.

So here’s one less thing to worry about as you send your kiddos off to school! Hmmmmm … now about those homework reminders …

1 Blueberry Lime Chocolate Clusters from Abeer at Cake Whiz

3 Almond Cookies from Caroline at Taste Love & Nourish

25 Quick and Easy School Lunches to Pack for Your Kids

Sometimes, parents write small notes of appreciation to put in their kids' lunchboxes. And that's sweet. But you know what they say: Actions speak louder than words. Make one of these 25 back-to-school lunches to let your little girl or guy know you really care.

--recipes by Teri Tsang-Barrett

Combine finely chopped hard-boiled eggs and pickles with mustard and mayonnaise, then spread on a slice of multigrain bread. Combine drained canned tuna, finely chopped celery and onion, mayonnaise and lemon juice, then spread on another slice of bread. Sprinkle with torn basil leaves and assemble.

Mash an avocado with lemon juice, then spread on a whole wheat wrap. Top with crumbled bacon, chopped tomatoes, and thinly sliced romaine lettuce. Roll up and wrap in parchment or wax paper to secure.

Combine diced smoked turkey, toasted almonds, halved seedless red grapes, thinly sliced celery and mayonnaise. Transfer to an airtight container pack with a whole wheat hot dog bun for your talented kid to assemble. Or not.

Prepare a batch of whole wheat pancake batter, using about 1/2 the liquid. Stir in a cup thawed frozen corn, one small grated zucchini and a handful of Parmesan, and a sliced scallion. The zucchini will add moisture add more liquid if the batter is too stiff. Cook until golden, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Pack with Greek yogurt for dipping.

Spread peanut butter on a toasted whole-wheat wrap, then sprinkle with crumbled bacon and drizzle with honey. Place a whole banana at the edge of the wrap, then roll, pressing gently to break the banana and form a cylinder shape. Or, slice the banana, scatter, and roll.

Spread a creamy cheese, such as Boursin, inside a whole wheat pita, then fill with roast turkey slices, baby spinach leaves and cucumber slices.

Brush a toasted nori sheet with sesame oil and season with salt. Press cold sushi rice on top in a thin layer. Tightly roll avocado slices, shredded carrots and cucumber sticks. Slice crosswise and pack with a packet of soy sauce.

Top a large whole wheat tortilla with slices of Gruyere cheese and season with black pepper. Arrange a layer of asparagus (roasted or steamed the night before, or shave raw into thin ribbons using a vegetable peeler) on one half, drizzle with lemon juice, and fold to enclose. Cook using a panini press or on a hot skillet until the tortilla is golden and the cheese melts.

Toss chopped tomatoes and shredded rotisserie chicken and carrots with barbecue sauce and heat through. Toss the mixture with chopped cilantro or parsley and transfer to an airtight container. Pack with a whole wheat hamburger bun for assembly at lunch.

Combine chopped fresh tomatoes, lime juice, finely chopped white onion and chopped fresh cilantro. Pack flaxseed tortilla chips with small containers of the salsa, avocados mashed with lemon juice, and Greek yogurt.

Spread the bottom of a split, toasted mini-bagel with cream cheese, Canadian bacon or pancetta, a scrambled egg and a tomato slice. Spread more cream cheese on the bagel's top slice before setting into place.

Combine chopped cooked shrimp, mayonnaise, lemon juice, chopped celery and fresh tarragon and black pepper. Transfer to an airtight container and pack with a whole wheat hot dog bun.

Whisk 1 part lemon juice to 2 parts olive oil season with black pepper. Add finely chopped shallot, let sit for a few minutes, then toss with canned, rinsed cannellini beans (white kidney beans), feta or goat cheese crumbles, thinly sliced cucumber half-moons, and chopped fresh dill or parsley. Pack with multigrain pita chips or pockets.

Warm frozen meatballs in jarred tomato sauce and transfer to a wide-mouth thermos. Place a slice of provolone cheese in a whole wheat hamburger bun for assembly at lunch.

Toss day-old or toasted bread cubes, chopped beefsteak tomatoes, crumbled feta, pitted olives (such as Kalamata), sliced cucumbers and salami with olive oil, lemon juice and dried oregano.

Pack a container with avocados mashed with lemon juice top with a layer of shredded Monterey Jack before sealing. Fill 2 small whole wheat tortillas with shredded rotisserie chicken and sliced romaine lettuce and store in resealable plastic bags. Assemble at lunch.

Combine chopped hard-boiled eggs, raisins, sliced celery, mayonnaise and curry powder. Trim the crust from a slice of bread and press to flatten. Spread with a layer of egg salad, then roll and secure with a toothpick.

Thinly slice a tube of store-bought prepared polenta lengthwise, then cut out shapes using cookie cutters. Brush with olive oil and sauté or bake until golden and warmed through sprinkle with grated Parmesan. Pack in resealable plastic bags with a separate container of bocconcini, grape tomatoes, and chopped cucumbers tossed with olive oil, lemon juice, and torn fresh basil.

Combine shredded rotisserie chicken, chopped apples and celery, walnuts, raisins, and mayonnaise. Spread the cut side of a split whole wheat hamburger bun with mayonnaise and assemble the sandwich using the chicken salad and butter lettuce leaves.

Thread skewers with grape tomatoes, cucumber chunks, cooked shrimp and toasted whole wheat bread cubes. Pack with pesto sauce for dipping.

Toss thinly sliced iceberg lettuce with a mixture of yellow mustard and mayonnaise. Assemble a sandwich on a split hoagie roll using sliced provolone, salami, turkey, tomatoes, and the iceberg lettuce mixture.

Spread the inside of a toasted pita pocket with mayonnaise, then fill with thinly sliced roast beef, Swiss cheese and store-bought cole slaw.

Spread mustard on a whole wheat tortilla, then top with slices of Jarlsberg cheese and ham. Add a layer of baby spinach leaves, then fold to enclose and cook on a Panini press or in a hot skillet until the tortilla is golden and the cheese melts. Let cool slightly, then cut into wedges before packing.

Saute thinly sliced scallions (whites only) in vegetable oil, then add frozen carrots, peas, corn, and a splash of water and soy sauce. Cook until heated through, then stir in leftover brown rice and another splash of water and soy sauce until the rice is softened and heated through. Stir in thinly sliced scallions (green parts), toasted sesame seeds, and chopped peanuts.

Toss diced roast chicken breast with pesto, diced mozzarella and sliced sugar snap peas. Transfer to an airtight container and pack with a whole wheat hot dog bun.

2. Tomato & Cheese Pasta

The next lunch is a simple tomato and cheese pasta. You can either cook this fresh in the morning or reheat pasta from the day before. To get the food flask hot, fill it with boiling water, put the lid on and leave it for 15 minutes then drain. Make sure the pasta is piping hot when you put it in.

Along with the pasta I also added turkey sausages, fruit and veg and a chocolate cake. Aoife is 10 so it’s safe for her to eat sausages in this shape but for babies, toddlers and younger children cut them lengthways.

Bonus School Lunch Ideas:

I realize that most of our kids pack and make their own lunches, but that doesn’t mean we can’t sneak a fun little note in occasionally. My daughter (I have one in school and homeschool my other daughter) may be in High School, but she still loves it when I put a note in her lunch box.

I love this lunch planner! It will help you and your tween or teen stay on track with packing lunches. While it may be a little cutesy for the older set, I love that you can customize the meals and make the whole thing re-usable. Might figure out how to add something like this to my command center.

Hope you enjoy all these great school lunch ideas! I’m going to try to post additional lunches try on my Facebook page, so follow me over there so you don’t miss any more ideas.

Home-made muesli bars

The second best part of making my own snacks is that I know exactly what goes into them - the best part is how they taste. The muesli bars in this recipe can be changed to suit any needs. I put linseed and sesame seeds in them, mostly so I can convince myself that I should eat them. Nuts are lovely, although the boys’ school, as well as many others I am sure, has a peanut ban because of serious allergies. Good additions include slivered almonds, pine nuts, choc chips or chopped apricot pieces.

School Lunch Ideas: 10 Healthy Ways to Fill Your Kids' Lunchboxes

When you're looking for school lunch ideas, it's easy to throw a handful of cheap, pre-packed lunchbox fillers into your shopping cart and call it a week. But what are those shortcuts really costing? Besides the empty calories, sodium, and sugar, there's the guilt you feel sending your child off to school with something you'd never cook or eat at home. For example, did you know Lunchables have between a quarter and a third of the daily recommended sodium for an adult?

Lunch Box Planning Tips

  1. Plan ahead. While it would be nice to buy farm fresh food each day, the reality is quite different. Shop on Sunday to plan out the week's meals, and try preparing these items ahead of time:
    • Cooked rice
    • Hard-boiled eggs
    • Rotisserie chicken
    • Pre-sliced matchstick carrots
    • Cooked pasta
    • Cooked ground meat
  2. Multitask your cooking. If you're making ground meat, save money by buying in bulk and cook more than you need for multiple meals. Cooked ground meat is great for spaghetti and meat sauce, tacos, sloppy Joes, chili, and shepherd's pie (just to name a few!).
  3. Buy fresh. One rotisserie chicken can make lunches for the whole week. Chicken salad sandwiches, burritos, chicken quesadillas, mini chicken pot pies, and barbecue chicken sandwiches are just a few ways to use it up.
  4. Presentation is key. If you make your child's lunch look fun, it will be more fun to eat. For example, Bento boxes have compartments that can hold different pre-portioned items. Some Bento boxes even have covers that press cool designs onto the sandwiches inside. Blunt-edged toothpicks are also an inexpensive and fun way for kids to play with their food in an appropriate way: they can spear each item individually or mix and match flavor combinations.
  5. Pack in the fruits and vegetables. Nutritionists recommend kids eat five to thirteen servings of fruits and vegetables each day, so make sure the majority of the foods in your child's lunch are healthy. If he's is hungry at lunchtime, your child will eat it!
  6. Pack items in reusable containers. You're not only saving the environment and money, you're also checking to see how much your child ate. Include a small sweet treat like a few M&Ms, a Hershey's Kiss, or a small snack pack of gummies, but take it away if that's the only thing that's getting eaten.
  7. Steer clear of pre-packed individual servings. Potato chips or cookies that boast 100 calories each are expensive and may be unhealthy lunchbox additions. Instead, buy a large bag of pretzels, crackers, or cookies, and count out individual servings into small snack containers that you can easily toss into your child's lunchbox.

10 School Lunch Ideas

Using the tips listed above, try these 10 school lunch ideas that are easy to make, fun to eat, cost-effective and healthy!

  1. Pasta Salad: Toss pasta with olive oil or canola oil, chunks of rotisserie chicken, frozen veggie mix like peas and carrots, and your child's favorite seasoning.
  2. PBB Hand Roll: Peanut butter, banana, and honey rolled in a tortilla and wrapped in foil.
  3. Chicken Rollups: Rotisserie chicken, cheese, lettuce and matchstick carrots rolled in a tortilla and cut into bite-sized sushi rolls.
  4. Fake it Don't Make it Chicken Soup: Heat chicken broth, leftover cooked pasta, rotisserie chicken chunks, and frozen veggies in the microwave for 1-2 minutes and pour it into a thermos. For a vegetarian option, use miso or veggie broth and cooked tofu chunks.
  5. DIY Tacos: Pack taco shells, cooked ground meat, cheese, shredded lettuce, and a small container of salsa for a build-your-own treat.
  6. Pizza Bagels: Spread tomato sauce on a bagel half and sprinkle cheese on top. Broil it in a toaster oven just before wrapping in foil.
  7. Bean and Cheese Burrito: Spread refried beans on a tortilla and add cooked rice, pre-made salsa, and shredded cheese. Roll it up and heat it in the microwave for about a minute before wrapping in foil.
  8. Chef's Salad: Layer cut grape tomatoes, shredded carrots, craisins, shredded cheese, cut cucumbers, corn kernels, sliced hard-boiled egg, and canned beans on top of shredded lettuce with a side of salad dressing. Your child can shake it all together or pick and dip.
  9. Pita pocket: Stuff a pita pocket with low-sodium lunch meat, lettuce, shredded carrots, cucumbers, spinach, and any other vegetable your child won't complain about. Try adding sliced strawberries or apples for a creative twist.
  10. Mac-n-Cheese-n-Trees: Make a simple cheesy sauce by heating milk with shredded cheddar cheese. When the cheese is fully melted, add a small amount of flour while stirring to thicken the sauce. Pour over leftover pasta and add broccoli and frozen corn.

Pair these entrees with cut fruit, water, carrots or celery, and pretzel sticks for a complete, guilt-free lunch you can be proud of!

5 Fresh Ideas For School Lunches

Food Network Kitchens recipe for a quick and easy taco lunch to go.

Photo by: Jackie Alpers ©Copyright 2012 Jackie Alpers - All rights reserved

Jackie Alpers, Copyright 2012 Jackie Alpers - All rights reserved

When peanut butter and turkey have you and your kids yawning, here are 5 fresh school lunch ideas to add to the mix.

What doesn’t go with pasta? Turn veggies, vinaigrette, and a sprinkle of cheese into a healthy, fun and satisfying lunch.

Create a lunchtime fiesta for your child's noontime meal. Use cold cuts or leftover chicken with vegetables, salsa or guacamole and the kiddie's favorite taco toppers.

Turn a Sunday afternoon activity into a fun-filled Monday lunch. Make your own vegetable rolls -- it’s easier than you think.

Try a new spin on cold cuts: pinwheels! Wrap up lean meats and/or veggies along with cream cheese “glue” to hold it all together. Then, slice into hand-held treats.

Hummus isn’t just for dunking carrot sticks. Try as a thick and creamy sandwich spread – it’s a nice change of pace (and flavor) from mustard and mayo.

Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition. See Dana's full bio »


  1. Brock

    I think I've already read about it somewhere

  2. Jooseppi

    Many thanks for the information. Now I will know it.

  3. Delbert

    That's for sure, there are no ideals

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