17 Creative Lunch Ideas (That Aren’t Sandwiches)

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Ready to branch out from PB&J? It’s easy to shake up your lunch ideas with these kid-approved recipes! From homemade chicken nuggets to cobb salad, there are tons of ways to give sandwiches a break. Lunchtime is about to get way more interesting!

While your creative juices are flowing, don’t forget to pack something fun to drink! Did you know that 1 in 2 kids is under-hydrated*? Creative Roots is a plant-powered coconut water beverage with a taste kids love. With one gram of sugar, it’s a solution that both you and your kids can get on board with!

Meatballs and Veggies

This is protein-packed lunch doesn't take too much time to pull together in the morning. Simply warm up meatballs (store-bought or homemade both work) and add their favorite veggies to the other spots in the bento box. See more great lunch ideas from One Lovely Life here. 

Deep Dish Mini Pizzas

Pizza lovers, rejoice! With this idea from One Little Project, you can have itty bitty deep dish pizzas that are the perfect size for lunchboxes. Customize with your fave toppings for a truly magical lunch. Get the how-to here.

Peanut Butter and Banana Roll Ups

You can’t get more colorful (or yummy!) than this lunchbox idea from Damn Delicious! It’s packed with strawberries, pretzels, tangerines, and celery sticks, along with quick wraps that are—you guessed it—super quick to make. For the recipe, head here.

Baked Chicken Nuggets

Load up their lunchboxes with a healthy and homemade version of a fast food staple! These ideas will go over like gangbusters with kids who crave nuggets 24/7—and you’ll be surprised how easy they are to make. Snag the recipe here.

Homemade Lunchables

Step away from the store-bought Lunchables! You can totally whip up your own version of this lunchbox classic—and even add some healthy additions (hello, fruit!) while you’re at it. Get inspired to make your own over at Snap. Eat. Run.

Skip the juice and pair it with Creative Roots! This plant-powered coconut water beverage has a taste kids love. With one gram of sugar, it’s a happy hydration solution for all.

Pigs in a Blanket

Psst! Your fave party hors d'oeuvre is also an awesome lunch option for kids and grownups alike. And with just two ingredients and four steps, your little chefs can even help make these irresistible bites. Want the recipe? Head here.

Turkey Spinach Pinwheels Lunch Box

More pinwheels, please! These super healthy bites—along with a hefty dose of fruits and veggies—are customizable, easy to make, and utterly delicious. Plus, you can make them ahead of time and have lunch for the whole week. Get the recipe from Damn Delicious.

Taco Salad Lunch Bowl

Turn your lunch into a fiesta with this creative idea from Kristine’s Kitchen! Filled with taco beef, lettuce, cheese, black beans, corn and salsa, these lunch bowls are bursting with flavor and healthy to boot. Score the recipe here.

Pepperoni Pizza Bites

Got thirty minutes? That’s how long it takes to make these four-ingredient bites from A Taste of Madness! Sporting some pepperoni and your fave cheese, they’ve got all the flavors of pizza and will fit just right in a lunchbox. Get the easy recipe here.

 

 

Mini Bagels with Cream Cheese

Bagels with cream cheese is a classic at any time! Let your kids pick their favorite flavor and fill a small container with cream cheese. They'll have fun slathering their bagels, and you can throw in cheese and fruit or veggies to round out their lunch. See the details and get other ideas over at Chelseas' Messy Apron

Fruit and Cream Cheese Wraps

For a sweet but still healthy lunch, you’ve got to try these wraps from Healthy Seasonal Recipes. Pair them with fresh veggies for a light and delicious meal. To get the recipe, click here.

Kiddie Cobb Salad

Turn veggie-averse kids into salad eaters with this genius take on cobb salad from Mom’s Kitchen Handbook. You can customize it with toppings your littles will like, but we figure avocados, turkey and hard-boiled eggs are a delicious place to start. To get the recipe, click here.

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. Click here to grab the recipe.

Sweetie Pie Quesadilla

Sneak veggies into your kid’s diet with these delish quesadillas by Katie Sullivan. In addition to being tot-approved, they’re also easy to make ahead and quickly reheat. Click here to get the recipe.

Corn Dog Muffins

These bite-sized muffins from An Affair from the Heart are an instant kid favorite, and way better for you than the deep-fried corn dogs you find at the county fair. To find out how they’re made, click here.

Pizza Pasta Salad

Pasta salad is always a great lunch choice, and this pizza-inspired version from Veggie Quest is bound to be a hit with the little ones. With good-for-you ingredients like beans and veggies, it’s a win for health, too. Click here to get the recipe.

Don't forget the Creative Roots to make this meal even more fun! This plant-powered coconut water beverage has a taste kids love. With one gram of sugar, you can feel good about it, too.

*Erica L. Kenney, Michael W. Long, Angie L. Cradock, and Steven L. Gortmaker, 2015: Prevalence of Inadequate Hydration Among US Children and Disparities by Gender and Race/Ethnicity: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2009–2012, American Journal of Public Health 105, e113_e118

 

—Abigail Matsumoto & Susie Foresman

Featured image: Louis Hansel via Unsplash

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