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With these easy kids lunch ideas, you don’t have to pack the same old sandwiches. Think outside the lunchbox and try these tips, tricks, and recipes. From wraps and rolls to salads and dips, breakfast for lunch, and even alternatives to bread, school lunch will never be the same.
Easy Kids School Lunch Ideas
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.
No, 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). 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.
Pack a healthy school lunch
I’m not a nutritionist or dietician, but I’ve found an approach that works for us. And my kids are healthy and, you know, I’ve kept them alive this long. So I guess we are doing alright!
I call it my mix between having a plan and no plan at all. Keep some staples in the fridge and pantry, have a few go-to recipes, and just some general ideas of things you can assemble simply with ingredients you have on hand.
In fact, I rarely pack a sandwich in their lunchbox. Maybe once a week they get peanut butter and jelly. But they 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.
I don’t really know anything about tracking all those vitamins and minerals and fat grams and carbs down to the decimal. I just know that variety typically means they don’t get too much or not enough of anything.
Packing lunch for work
Yes, these ideas are also great for adults to pack to bring to work.
So let’s get to it…
What to eat instead of sandwiches
Kids 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 trued, 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. But rolling it up makes your favorite sandwich fillings a little more interesting.
Anything you can pick up and eat with your hands is always more fun for kids.
What 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. OK, maybe some of these are pasta salad. But at least it's a change from sandwiches. And you can make it taste like pizza or tacos. Or give it a shot with zoodles salads or salads in a jar to make them fun and portable.
Protein-Packed Spreads and Dips for Vegetables and More
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.
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 makes trying new things more appealing to kids.
Good snacks for lunch
After you’ve packed a lunchbox, don’t forget about after school snacks!