Save this list of kids lunch recipes to make packing and serving healthy kids lunches a little easier each week. With make-ahead and freezer-friendly options to serve to the kids at home or packed, these ideas will take some of the challenge out of the midday meal (or I hope they will at least!).
Kids Lunch Recipes
Making healthy foods ahead of time for lunch is one of the best ways to ensure our kids are eating well throughout the week—and that we’re not scrambling for lunch when everyone is hungry. These recipes are great to meal prep and they can be served to toddlers and big kids alike.
And even if you don’t find time ahead to make these recipes, you can prepare them in the morning or right before lunch to serve up a healthy meal.
TIP: You can of course eat these foods yourself too—parents deserve yummy food too!
Lunch Ideas for Kids at Home
With kids who are home for lunch, having this stash of healthy recipes to make ahead of time can be a big win. I always find that lunchtime comes so quickly when I’m home with my kids, so the more I can have at least one healthy option ready and waiting, the better able I am to serve them healthy lunches.
I have these broken up my type of food to help you easily scroll through to find options that will work for you.
TIP: These lunches work at home, as well as packed for daycare or preschool.
Muffin and Quick Bread Recipes for Lunch
One of my very favorite ways to get ahead for lunches is to rely on healthy muffins or quick bread as the main, then add simple sides like fruits and veggies, cheese, cottage cheese, yogurt, or even a smoothie to round things out.
TIP: You can find all of my best Healthy Muffins here.
Breakfast for Lunch Ideas
Mix up when you serve favorite breakfast foods by serving them for lunch. It’s an easy way to keep the kids interested and also make it easy on yourself to prepare their lunch!
TIP: The egg muffins are super easy to bake and then reheat quickly to serve for lunch. Try them with a side of ketchup or salsa for dipping.
Quesadillas and Burritos for Lunches
My oldest kiddo is a super fan of burritos and quesadillas so we tend to have them for lunch often—and I love to make big batches on the weekend to warm throughout the week.
Whether meat or vegetarian based, these easy protein options are perfect to prep ahead—either by a few days or a few minutes!
TIP: Meatballs are one of my favorite recipes to batch cook and freeze for future meals.
Pasta Recipes for Lunch
I love to make an easy pasta recipe to have ready for the kids for lunch and all of these are great for adult lunches too.
TIP: Add frozen peas or broccoli to your pasta cooking water for the last two minutes when making boxed mac and cheese to easily add a veggie to the mix.
Kids Lunch Recipes with Veggies
Serve up a veggie-packed main dish or add a simple side. We also like no-cook options like sliced cucumbers, sliced bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, avocado, snap peas, and shredded carrots.
TIP: I like to have roasted veggies on hand most weeks since they have natural sweetness and are good at room temp or warmed. Find all of my best recipes for veggies for lunch, including how to serve raw veggies to toddlers, here.
Easy Sandwich Ideas
If your kids aren’t quite able to chew a sandwich with two pieces of bread quite yet, serve them open face or with the components deconstructed.
Pizza for Lunch Ideas
Using the flavors of pizza to make easy lunches is fun and kid-friendly. And most of these ideas are super simple too!
TIP: Find my full list of Pizza Ideas for Lunch.
Best Snack Recipes for Lunches
I’m a HUGE fan of snack lunches for the kids, where you assemble a mix of snacks to make a lunch (sort of like a kid version of a cheese plate). You can do it with any store bought snacks, but these homemade ones make nice options too.
TIP: Learn more about making healthy snack meals here.
Helpful Tips for Packing Lunches in a Lunchbox
Packing leftover chicken, meatballs, pasta, and more can bring up some questions, so these tips should help!
- Pack leftover cooked chicken, chicken nuggets, or tenders to be eaten chilled or warm in a thermos.
- Pack quesadillas, burritos, or any other dish that’s better warmed in a thermos.
- Cut up muffins, sandwiches, and any other baked goods or breads into cubes if it’s easier for your child to eat them that way.
- Pack smoothies in a reusable pouch to send with lunch. (You can also make them right before lunch to serve at home.)
Kid-Friendly Lunch Ideas for School
Packing lunches for kids will vary according to your own unique child, so do keep in mind the preferences of your kiddo and adjust your lunch plan accordingly. I try not to send any brand new foods in a lunchbox since the kids don’t have much time to eat them AND they are likely very busy chatting with friends.
TIP: And aim to pack foods that are easy to eat—put yourself in your kid’s shoes as you pack everything and make things easier to open, access, and eat as needed.
School Lunch Ideas for Picky Eaters
One last consideration for pickier kids: Keep their lunches simple. It’s also okay if they don’t have a huge variety at their midday meal since they may also be dealing with the demands of socializing—which is a lot of work for some kids!
You don’t need to make Pinterest-worthy lunches. Just ones that your kids will eat and enjoy!
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I’d love to hear any lunch tips you have so please comment below to share. I love hearing what works for your families and I appreciate all feedback!
This post was first published July 2018.