Kid Friendly School Lunch Ideas

For some of you, school has just begun again and for us, it’s about to begin. It can be so exciting to get started with another school year but it certainly adds a bit of stress to our lives too. Hopefully, these kid friendly school lunch ideas will help alleviate some of that stress for you.

Life starts speeding up again at this time of year and for us, that always means that we need to be as organized as possible! When it comes to weeknight dinners and school lunches, we like to have a plan. By having a plan, you can not only save time, but save money as well.

Kid Friendly School Lunch Ideas

Kid Friendly School Lunch Ideas

We all see those adorable Bento box ideas online and if you want to and have time to make them, I’m sure the kids love them. But remember, you don’t have to make complicated meals for them to be ones your child will enjoy.

We’ve got some ideas for adding variety to kids’ lunches here that are quick and easy. Sometimes it just takes a little creative thinking to add that sense of fun to your child’s lunchbox without adding extra work to your day.

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Use cookie cutters and cute picks.

Want the Bento box look without all the work. Invest in some cute cookie cutters. It takes mere seconds to cut your child’s sandwich into an adorable shape using a cookie cutter.

You can also use adorable little food picks to sandwiches and other foods to add a fun touch to anything.

Instead of a regular sandwich, make it a wrap.

Wrap up the sandwich ingredients in a tortilla. You can buy mini tortillas or make it in a larger one and then roll it up and cut off slices for your child. You can use chicken, ham, or other kinds of meat as well as hard boiled eggs, scrambled eggs, shredded cheese, shredded or chopped vegetables, yogurt, ranch dressing, fruits, and so much more.

Looking for something a little different? Use lettuce leaves instead of tortillas for the wraps.

You can also cut the crusts off a piece of bread and flatten it with a rolling pin. Add filling like chicken, egg, or tuna salad and roll it up. Cut into little spirals. Sometimes we like to add gherkins or a pickle wedge down the middle before rolling up so there’s a little taste of it in the middle of each spiral.

You can do the same with wedges of zucchini, a carrot stick, or a strip of bell pepper.

Walter really likes these bread rollups with cream cheese and jam in them. A great substitute for cream cheese that has nearly double the amount of protein is cottage cheese. You can buy “smooth cottage cheese” in stores or simply throw some in a blender (or use a hand blender).

TIP: If you cut the crusts off the bread, save them and make bread crumbs or croutons out of them. I keep them in a container in the freezer and then make a batch when I have time.

Use something other than bread for a sandwich.

Of course, a variety of different breads can help avoid lunchtime boredom, but what about trying something other than bread too? Whenever we make pancakes, we make some silver dollar sized ones to store in the freezer. Spread these with Nutella or seed butter or jam and cream cheese. There are tons of possibilities!

Or how about slices of cucumber or zucchini as the bread? These are great stuffed with tuna salad, egg salad, or chicken salad.

Put together your own trail mix.

Put out a selection of cereals, dried fruits, and other similar items (remember not to include nuts or other items prohibited at your child’s school) and let your child mix up their own blend.

Make kabobs.

Kids love food on a stick. Use clean popsicle sticks in place of pointy skewers. Or with some fruits and soft cheese, you can even thread them onto pretzel sticks. Try different fruits, vegetables (cucumbers, zucchini, bell peppers, and grape tomatoes all work well), and cheeses for variety. You can even cut the crusts off a sandwich, cut it in quarters and place those on a stick too. If your child likes pickles, alternate the sandwich pieces with gherkins or pickle slices.

Send a salad.

Put some salad in a container and dressing in another smaller container. While at school, your child can pour the dressing into the salad container, put the lid back on, and shake. My daughter always liked when this included leftover taco meat, grated cheese, crushed tortilla chips, and then Catalina dressing.

Note: This is something you want to practice at home before sending it to school to ensure that your child can do this without sending salad flying all over the classroom.

Make a parfait.

Layer yogurt, fruits, and cereals for a delicious and nutritious meal or snack.

Kids love to dip

Send along a dip with your kid’s lunch and they’re nearly guaranteed to eat it. Most kids LOVE dipping their food into some sort of sauce. Send along cooked chicken nuggets in a thermos and then some dipping sauce for them.

Send fruit with some whipped cream cheese or the smooth cottage cheese mentioned earlier. Try some cut up veggies with some Ranch dip. Take that blended cottage cheese and mix in a bit of Ranch dressing mix. Or add some minced/grated vegetables for a veggie dip – carrots, cucumbers, green onions, broccoli, zucchini, bell peppers, and spinach are all options. You can use this same veggie dip as a sandwich spread too.

Try hummus as another dip option.

Make homemade pita or tortilla chips.

These can go along with the dip or just by themselves for a delicious snack. If you make them yourself, you can control the ingredients that go into them.

Cut the pitas or flour or corn tortillas into wedges. With the pitas, you may also want to split them open as well. You can very lightly brush them with olive oil or spray with olive oil cooking spray.

The chips can be left plain or you can experiment with your favourite seasonings. Try savory blends or make a sweeter one with cinnamon and a tiny bit of sugar. Bake at 350-375 degrees. I found the tortilla chips took 5-10 minutes and the pita chips took 12-15 minutes.

Create your own Momables.

We had a divided container for lunches and I created a label for it that said Momables on it. My daughter loved the concept of Lunchables but didn’t always like the selection they had and I preferred some that packed a bit more of a nutrient punch. So, I made my own. She loved them because it could be tailored to her favorites!

And kids tend to really like any foods cut up into smaller pieces. Something about that “miniature” aspect really appeals to them. You can even make sandwiches and simply cut them up into small squares – maybe eighths or even sixteenths. It’s amazing how a child can look at a standard sandwich and think it’s boring but when cut up into tiny little squares, it suddenly becomes very appealing!

Make mini pizzas on English Muffins.

Walter makes these for dinner for us often! Make some extras and send them in for lunch as well. They’re delicious cold as well or warm them up, wrap them in foil, and put in a thermos.

Stuffed peppers make a great lunch idea!

Use the mini sweet peppers and stuff them with cream cheese, chicken salad, tuna salad, or egg salad.

Grab our free printable to print out and hang on your fridge for school lunch inspiration by clicking on the image below:

Other options for school lunches:

Pizza Pinwheels

Lunchbox Mini Frittatas {Freezer Friendly}

Banana “Sushi” Rolls

Mini Corn Dog Muffins

Baked Tofu Sticks or Nuggets

Freezer Friendly No Crust Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwiches – can make these with cream cheese or smooth cottage cheese in place of peanut butter too – these are like the Uncrustables you can buy in the store.

Pasta Salad

Pulled Chicken Sliders

Overnight Oats

Overnight Chia Pudding

Mac and Cheese Muffins

Find our back to school meal planning ideas here.

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