50+ Kids Lunch Ideas Besides Sandwiches

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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!

collage of Easy Kids Lunch Ideas with apple sandwiches, chicken salad lettuce wraps, peanut butter hummus, salad on a stick, pasta salad, and yogurt parfaits

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.

Chef Salad on a Stick appetizers on a wooden platter with a bowl of honey mustard.

Chef Salad on a Stick

Make a classic salad more fun to eat and dip it in your favorite salad dressing, like this Healthy Honey Mustard. The best part is that you can customize them with the deli meats and cheese your family loves the most.
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Apple Chicken Salad on a Stick

Apples add a hint of sweetness and crunch to this protein-packed combo. This is a great lunch to make when you have leftover chicken.
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Chicken kabobs on a plate alongside greek salad.

Greek Chicken Souvlaki

These tasty chicken kabobs can definitely be eaten cold the next day with some Tzatziki Sauce for dipping. You can even stuff the chicken in gluten free pita.
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5 Ingredient Pizza Skewers

Only five ingredients including string cheese, and it tastes just like pizza. Don't forget a container of hummus, marinara sauce, or pesto for dunking.
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Sandwich on a Stick

Not the same old sandwich, but make them with your favorite sandwich fillings. There are so many options, and you can even use gluten free bread.
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Turkey Sandwich Kebabs

No bread is needed for this sandwich skewer, but don't forget the pickles. This easy recipe can go from lunchboxes to a picnic party platter.
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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.

Chicken pinwheel sandwiches with veggies on a cutting board.

Mediterranean Chicken Pinwheels

These little rolls are packed with tons of flavor from olives, artichokes, and roasted red peppers. And cutting the wraps into pinwheels makes them extra fun to eat.
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A buffalo chicken summer roll cut in half on a plate with whole rolls piled on a green platter.

Bufflao Chicken Spring Rolls

Instead of tortillas, try rolling up chicken salad in rice paper wrappers. You can use your favorite recipe, but this spicy version is a cool way to eat everyone's favorite kicked up chicken.
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Bacon Cheddar Ranch Pinwheels

Every kid loves bacon, ranch, and cheddar. So they will devour their lunch when you combine all of those flavors into these little bites.
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BBQ Chicken Wraps

Bring barbecue deliciousness to lunch with these delicious wraps. Saucy, creamy chicken gets rolled up with crip veggies and rich avocado for a seriously satisfying lunch.
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Turkey Roll Ups

These taste just like the ones you can buy at Costco. Only you know they are always better and cheaper when you make them fresh yourself.
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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.

Chef Salad Lettuce Wraps

A salad you can pick up and eat with your hands. These little lettuce cups are loaded with meat, cheese, eggs, veggies, and any dressing you love.
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No Bread Sandwich on apple slices with turkey, ham and cheese on a green plate

Turkey, Ham and Cheese Apple Sandwiches

These apple sammies are a fun change of pace. You'll love the sweet and savory combination and the extra crunch.
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Italian Deli Roll Ups

Just like your favorite Italian sub sandwich, minus the bread. This lunch idea has plenty of protein to keep you moving.
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Apple Peanut Butter Sandwiches

You won't miss bread when you put a smear of peanut butter between two apple slices. Customize with with other favorite fillings, like banana slices, carrots and raisins, and more.
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Turkey Snack Wraps

These make a great snack or light lunch. Just 4 ingredients and you can assemble them in barely more than a minute.
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Apple Sandwiches

Apple Sandwiches

Bacon, chicken, and cheese pair perfectly with sweet and crunchy apples. These super quick and delicious sandwiches work well for an easy lunch at home, or they can be packed for school or work.
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Breakfast for Lunch

From muffins to eggs and more, your morning meal can be portable to enjoy at lunchtime.

Healthy Carrot Zucchini Mini Muffins

Mini Carrot Zucchini Muffins

A kid-friendly favorite for years that is packed with veggies. You can even make gluten free carrot zucchini muffins.
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Broccoli Ham and Cheese Egg Muffins on a plate.

Broccoli, Ham and Cheese Egg Muffins

Use whatever leftover veggies, cheese, and meat you have to customize them any way you like. You can enjoy them at room temperature or keep them warm in a thermos.
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A stack of mini chocolate Banana Blender Pancakes with syrup dripping off of them.

Mini Banana Blender Pancakes

These little gluten free pancakes are made with oats and are perfectly portable. Add a small container of maple syrup to the lunch box or make pancake peanut butter sandwiches.
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Cinnamon Apple Quinoa Breakfast Bars stacked on a green plate.

Apple Cinnamon Breakfast Bars

These hearty and healthy bars are great to make ahead of time. Packed with oats and quinoa for whole grains and protein to keep the kids satisfied all afternoon.
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Bacon Cheeseburger Crustless Quiche

Bacon Cheeseburger Crustless Quiche

Make this for brinner and send the leftovers to school or work or microwave it to warm it up. It's even tasty cold or at room temperature.
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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.

striped napkin on a white picnic table with a blue bowl of mexican macaroni salad

Mexican Pasta Salad

This tasty salad has so many great colors and texture. A creamy Southwestern Dressing gives it a kicked-up zesty flavor that's not too spicy.
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Sesame Peanut Zucchini Noodles on a green plate with wooden chopsticks on a blue napkin on the side.

Sesame Zoodles Salad

The creamy peanut sauce will even have the kids slurping up these zoodles. Keep it vegetarian or add chicken or shrimp.
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Three bean salad in a blue bowl with a wooden spoon.

Three Bean Salad

You might think of this as a side dish, but it's packed with protein and veggies. It can definitely make a satisfying lunch.
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Healthy Apple Candy Bar Salad

The classic Snickers salad gets a healthier upgrade that is just as sweet and yummy. Crunchy apples, a creamy yogurt dressing, plus peanuts, honey, and bits of dark chocolate make it irresistible.
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Barbecue Ranch Quinoa Chicken Salad

BBQ Ranch Quinoa Chicken Salad

This hearty salad has healthy ingredients and everyone's favorite flavors. It's simple to make and cann be kept in the fridge all week.
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Chicken Caesar Salad in a white salad bowl with a fork

Chicken Caesar Salad

It's such a classic! But you can make it healthier with a Greek Yogurt Caesar Dressing.
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a bowl of bbq chicken salad in the middle with a sandwich on a plate to the left and lettuce wraps on a plate to the right

Honey BBQ Chicken Salad

Made with Greek yogurt to keep it creamy and light, but with the savory flavor of your favorite barbecue sauce, this isn’t your usual chicken salad recipe.
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Pepperoni Pizza Pasta Salad

Pepperoni Pizza Pasta Salad

Tender pasta, zesty pepperoni and Italian dressing come together in a pasta salad with all of the delicious flavors of pizza. This will be a crow-pleaser.
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Cobb Salad in a Jar

This is an easy way to make salads portable while keeping them fresh and crisp. And this one has the classic combination of turkey, eggs, avocado, and cheese.
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Taco Pasta Salad

Start Taco Tuesday at lunch instead of waiting until dinner. You can't go wrong with noodles packed with taco meat, cheese, and more.
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Spreads and Dips

These are protein-packed options to dip vegetables and more.

Greek Yogurt Ranch Dip with veggies on a plate on top of a stack of colorful napkins.

Greek Yogurt Ranch Dip

Greek yogurt lightens up and adds protein to this old favorite. Use it as a dip or rizzle it on salads.
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A bowl of hummus topped with olive oil and cilantro.

Classic Hummus

It's everybody's favorite chickpea dip. But when you make it yourself, you can use some tricks to make it ultra-creamy, and the fresh flavor can't be beat. Don't forget the gluten free pita for dipping!
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Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Dip with an apple slice being dipped into it surrounded by apples, carrots, and graham crackers on a platter.

Peanut Butter Hummus

A dip for fruit and veggies that tastes like cookie dough. But it's flourless and healthy with a secret ingredient.
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Spinach Parmesan White Bean Dip

Spinach Parmesan White Bean Dip

Here is a creamy alternative to the same old hummus. Sneak veggies and protein into this cheesy dip.
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Closeup of a bagel with carrot cake whipped cream cheese leaning against the other half on a small white plate.

Carrot Cake Cream Cheese

You'll forget plain bagels when you cover them with this sweet and cinnamony spread. But you can also dip apples or carrots.
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Creamy cucumber dill dip in a striped bowl with a few raw veggies placed in the top.

Cucumber Dill Yogurt Dip

Fresh and flavorful, with protein and even more vegetable goodness. It's so creamy with just a little crunch.
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Apple dipped into snack-size cream cheese dip.

Creamy Cheesecake Yogurt Fruit Dip

This sweet but healthy dip can be made in single servings and is perfect for graham crackers, pretzels, or apple slices.
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One bagel half leaning against the other half completely covered with flavored cream cheese filled with orange pieces and dried cranberries.

Cranberry Orange Cream Cheese

Smear some bagels or dip carrots or apples into this zesty cream cheese. The sweet and tangy flavors pacy a tasty punch.
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Wholesome Parfaits

This is almost like dessert for lunch, but it’s easy to make them healthy, yummy, and portable.

A parfait with layers of yogurt, peanut butter, jelly, and granola.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Yogurt Parfaits.

Don't limit your PB&J love to sandwiches. Layer you favorite peanut butter and jelly with yogurt and a peanut buttery granola.
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A couple of yogurt parfaits with mixed berries.

Mixed Berry Quinoa Parfaits

It tastes like dessert, but it's a surefire way to get the kids to eat quinoa. It also adds great texture and more protein.
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Fruit and Yogurt Snack Hack

Try the four different fruity combos in these perfectly portable parfaits. You'll love the easy hack for packing them to take along with you.
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Apple Crisp Yogurt Parfaits

Layer up yogurt, crispy apples, and a cinnamon-y granola. It's the perfect balance of creamy and crunchy.
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Blueberry and Peach Chia Pudding Parfaits in glasses, next to a whole peach and scattered blueberries.

Blueberry Peach Chia Pudding Parfaits

Simple and healthy with creamy layers between the fresh fruit. It's a true taste of summer freshness.
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Meal Prep Fruit and Yogurt Parfaits

Great tips so you can prep a bunch of these parfaits for breakfast and lunch all week.
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Finger Foods

Anything you can pick up and eat with your hands is always more fun for kids.

Ants on a Log ingredients on a kids snack board

Ants on a Log

You don't have to use only peanut butter and raisins for this classic. You can make a big platter when the kids are at home or pack different combos and toppings in little containers.
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A miniature bowl with three dates stuffed with cream cheese and three pistachios in each of them.

Pistachio Cream Cheese Stuffed Dates

Only three ingredients in this easy, healthy little bite that packs easily in a lunchbox.
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A dish of cheesy quinoa bites on top of blue and white cloth napkins on a wood table.

Cheesy Veggie Quinoa Bites

Make these with leftovers and they are yummy to eat whether hot or cold. It's the best way to get kids to eat quinoa and veggies.
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Easy Peanut Butter Banana Snacks

Topped with your favorite nut or seed butter and granola, these are totally customizable to any preference or allergy.
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A closeup of a Deviled Egg garnished with paprika and dill with more blurred int he background on a platter.

Greek Yogurt Deviled Eggs

Even more protein-packed than the classic recipe because they are made with Greek yogurt instead of mayo. These are great to keep in the fridge.
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Baked BBQ Turkey Meatballs

BBQ Turkey Meatballs

Meal prep them for lunches or save some leftvoers when you make them for dinner. Then pack these healthy baked meatballs with the barbecue sauce in a separate container for dipping.
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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.

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