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Are you tired of the same old sandwich routine for lunch every day? Look no further than these easy lunch ideas for kids and adults that are both delicious and satisfying. Whether you’re meal-prepping for the week or looking for something different to pack in a school lunchbox, these recipes and tips go beyond traditional sandwiches!
Easy Kids Lunch Ideas – Adults Love Them Too!
I like to call myself a Lunchbox Ninja. I’ve been packing lunches for my always-hungry boys for years now, and you know what? There’s more to life, and lunch, than sandwiches.
That’s right, kids lunch doesn’t have to mean the same sandwich, applesauce, and pudding cup every day (yes, that was my typical lunch as a kid). And adults need variety too. However, that doesn’t mean lunch has to be complicated. You don’t have to carve carrots into cartoon characters or break out the cookie cutters to turn everything into fancy shapes. And spending all weekend cooking and packing fancy meal prep containers isn’t necessary either.
Pack a healthy school lunch
I’m not a nutritionist or dietician, but I’ve found an approach that works for us. I call it my mix of having a plan and no plan at all. I keep some staples in the fridge and pantry, have a few go-to recipes, and just some general ideas of things to can assemble simply with common pantry ingredients.
In fact, I rarely pack a sandwich in my kids’ lunchboxes – maybe once a week they get peanut butter and jelly. And as someone who lives a gluten free life, I avoid sandwiches because those tiny, overpriced, and bland loaves of gluten free bread make an underwhelming sammie.
But we all like variety, and I like that by giving them different things in their school lunch, not only are they eating a variety of foods and flavors, but also getting a variety of nutrients.
Packing lunch for work
Yes, these ideas are also great for adults to pack to bring to work too. Or if you work from home, having them ready to grab when the hunger pangs strike means you can grab something quickly and get back on the job.
So let’s get to it…
What to eat instead of sandwiches
- Lunch on a Stick – Everything is more fun when you put it on a stick. Grab some plastic skewers and fill it with vegetables, meats, cheeses, and more for these creative combos perfect for dipping, dunking, and devouring.
- Wraps, Rolls, and Pinwheels – Are wraps better for you than bread? This may or may not be true, depending on the bread and wraps you choose. But there are some flatbreads made with whole grains and even extra nutrition from things like flax seeds. You can even find gluten free wraps.
- Alternatives to Use Instead of Bread – You can totally swap out the bread and make your “sandwich” on things like apple slices or wraps in lettuce. You can even wrap everything up right in your favorite deli meat.
- Breakfast for Lunch – Who says muffins and eggs are only for breakfast? We all love breakfast for dinner, so breakfast for lunch is a great option. Plus there are many ways to add in extra protein and even veggies.
- Salads Kids Will Eat – Yes, kids will eat salad, especially if it’s pasta salad or you make it taste like pizza or tacos. And they are definitely healthy options for adults. Change it up with zoodles salads or salads in a jar to make them fun and portable.
- Protein-Packed Dips – When dips are made from ingredients like Greek yogurt or chickpeas, they become a satisfying source of protein. And dipping makes kids more likely to eat veggies.
- Wholesome Parfaits – Parfait possibilities are endless, whether you use fruit, yogurt, and granola, or try something like chia seed pudding. Those layers and eating out of a jar always make trying new things more appealing to kids.
- Finger Foods – Kids love food they can pick up and eat, and many of these are great options for adults as well. Some pack perfectly in a lunchbox, and others are great to have on hand at home for weekends, days off, and summer break.
50+ Easy Lunch Ideas – No Sanwiches
Lunch on a Stick
Here are easy salad and sandwich skewer ideas to get you started, but the combinations you can make are truly endless. The fun part is choosing what to dip them in.
Wraps, Rolls, and Pinwheels
Rolling it up makes your favorite sandwich fillings a little more interesting when you just need something other than your usual slices of bread. If you can’t find gluten free wraps, you can make your own gluten free tortillas.
What to Use Instead of Bread
Whether you want lower carbs, more proten, extra fruit and veggies, or just need something different, skip the bread entirely.
Breakfast for Lunch
From muffins to eggs and more, your morning meal can be portable to enjoy at lunchtime.
Salads Kids Will Eat
Salads are always a great lunch options, especially when they are more than just a little lettuce. These are filling and flavorful.
Spreads and Dips
These are protein-packed options to dip vegetables and more.
This is almost like dessert for lunch, but it’s easy to make them healthy, yummy, and portable.
Anything you can pick up and eat with your hands is always more fun for kids.
Good snacks for lunch
After you’ve packed a lunchbox, don’t forget about after-school snacks!
- No-Bake Recipes for Kids Snacks include energy balls and energy bars and more quick and easy ideas.
- 100+ Healthy Gluten Free Snacks are perfect if you want or need to avoid wheat.