Full disclosure: we’re making the pizza buns for the extras that get left at home
If you want to get ahead of the game when it comes to coming up with creative school lunch ideas for kids, we’re here for it. Get your kids out of the PB&J rut with 30 great recipes that include roll-up recipes, homemade Lunchables, simple bento lunches, and more! Read on for the scrumptious kids’ lunch ideas for school—and expect an empty bento box to come back every time.
Apple Cheese Wraps
The sweet and savory combo of apples and cheese is complimented by ham or turkey for a unique take on a school lunch idea for kids. We think Honeycrisp apples would be perfect! Get more details from Weelicious.
If your kiddo is pizza crazy, check this out: tortilla pizza from Kristine's Kitchen! It's a more lunchbox-friendly way to pack a pizza pie and pairs great with veggies, too.
Hummus & Pita Dippers
Have you heard about this hummus lunch idea from One Lovely Life? It's simple: your kiddo's fave hummus, combined with fresh veggies, pretzels, and pita crisps for dunking. No muss, no fuss!
Ham and Cheddar Pinwheels
These pinwheels are pretty as a picture and infinitely customizable to boot. Chelsea's Messy Apron has all the deets on this lunch idea, including how you can give it a boost with lunchbox-friendly ranch dip!
Ham and Cheese Freezer Sandwiches
Two words: freezer sandwiches. A Taste of Madness has struck make-ahead magic with these ham and cheese creations. Just heat them up in the morning for a quick and easy school lunch that's packed with gooey cheesy goodness.
Sandwich Kabobs 6 Ways
Kids love kabobs, and Weelicious gives you six different ideas for lunch versions. From caprese to BLT to the fancy brunch kabob, there's one for every palate.
Banana Muffin Lunchbox
Boring lunches have nothin' on this muffin lunch. It's the perfect whole wheat and banana combo and pairs great with a hard-boiled egg for an extra dose of protein. Learn more at Kristine's Kitchen.
Mini Corndog Muffins
Got a class clown on your hands? Give their lunch those carnival vibes with this version of a corn dog in muffin form. These bites are good warm or cold and super simple to make!
Homemade Kraft Easy Mac
Mac and cheese is a surefire win for our kids, which is why we love this take on easy mac from Food Fanatic. The best part? It’s made entirely in the microwave and comes together in a flash.
Basil, parmesan, and sunflower seeds combine to make this fresh and flavorful nut-free pesto. Mix it up in pasta, use it as a sandwich spread, or make it a yummy dip for veggies.
Two words: pizza bites. Keep a batch in the freezer, and you’ll always have them ready for an easy school lunch idea for kids. Get the recipe at Super Healthy Kids.
Ultimate Kiddie Cobb Salad
“Nachos” with Black Beans
How do you turn lunchtime into a real fiesta? With these easy deconstructed nachos, courtesy of What Lisa Cooks. This idea not only skips the mess of traditional nachos but it can also be thrown together in about five minutes.
Thanks to Simple As That, you can treat little pizza connoisseurs to a creative school lunch that doesn’t involve foil-wrapped slices. These cheesy buns are simple to whip up (kids can even help with the prep work), and they can be tossed in the freezer for those days when you need a lunch or snack ASAP.
Peanut Butter & Jelly on a Stick
Okay, so we said there was no PB&J to be seen, but sometimes a home run lunch isn’t about reinventing the wheel. Just take this school lunch idea from A Whisk and Two Wands. Alternate your sandwich bites with healthy fruit, and you’re all set for school.
Sometimes you just need to embrace kid food quirks—like when they get attached to one particular color. This genius idea from The Mom 100 groups great green munchies like pesto pasta, broccoli, and grapes (If your kid is hooked on a different hue, The Mom 100 also has orange and yellow lunches on her blog!).
Carrot and Hummus “Sushi” Sandwiches
We love how this idea from Weelicious incorporates fun flavors and lots of grated carrots. It’s perfect for when you want to amp up your kids’ veggie intake–or when you want to pack a lunch that looks impressive but takes minutes to make.
Kids love the DIY aspect of Lunchables (go figure), but those unmade lunches can get pricey. Cue Snap. Eat. Run., which outlines how to make your own cheaper and healthier version of pizza Lunchables. You only need a few minutes to get these ready, and you can even make them ahead of time and toss them in a school bag on the way out the door.
Mini BLT Wraps
What do you get when you take the classic BLT and give it a school lunch twist? These bite-sized rollups from The Girl Who Ate Everything! These are easy to put together and adaptable too, so feel free to get creative with whole wheat tortillas, hummus, sprouts, sliced chicken, or whatever else is in the crisper drawer.
Nut-Free Crispy Chicken Tenders
Teacher, foodie, blogger, and supermom Lexi of Lexi’s Clean Kitchen is our hero. She created this paleo-friendly recipe with flaxseed, tapioca flour, and a whole lot of flavor for lunchtime. Pack a little dipping sauce and handi-wipes for the best finger food lunch in the cafeteria!
Think beyond bread! Add a Pinch shows how to include savory applewiches in your little one’s lunch. The filling ingredients include cheddar cheese and peanut butter–but if your kids’ school is a peanut-free zone, you can always substitute in other kinds of nut butter.
Easy Soba Noodles
Talk about using your noodle! This school lunch idea for kids from Hip Foodie Mom can be whipped up quickly in the morning and features tasty Asian flavors (Think low-sodium soy sauce, sesame oil, and more.). It’s great for kids who are tired of the ol’ sandwich route and great for those who have mini lunch containers, too.
Cucumber and Cream Cheese Sammy
Catherine McCord always has simple and fun ideas to please even the pickiest eaters. These sandwiches from Weelicious scream tea party and are a total hit when it comes to school lunches. Just make sure to stash a cold pack in those lunch bags so the cream cheese can stay cool all morning!