Find all of the best kid-friendly (and parent-approved) pasta lunch ideas for home—or to pack and send to daycare, preschool, or elementary school. These are all easy, delicious, and ready in about 20 minutes.

pasta lunch ideas in grid of 6.

Pasta Lunch Ideas

I am a big fan of easy lunch ideas that helps us feed the family without much work—and ideas that the kids usually like. Which means, on a lot of days, pasta is the answer! You can make these kids lunches for home or to pack in a thermos or lunchbox to send to childcare or school.

They’re very versatile with any type of pasta you prefer and I bet you’ll even enjoy most of them, too.

Find pasta salad, mac and cheese ideas, pesto, marinara sauce, vegetarian pastas, and more in this toddler pasta list.

healthy-pasta-salad-in-white-bowls

Pasta Salad with Chicken

This super easy and healthy Pasta Salad contains about an equal amount of pasta and other mix-ins for maximum flavor, texture, and nutrition in each bowl. Bonus: This family dinner is easy to customize and make-ahead.

Healthy Pasta Salad with Chicken
This works well anytime of the year, but the flavors are particularly great in summer
Get the recipe
healthy pasta salad in two bowls
Pesto pasta salad in container for a vegetarian lunch idea

Pesto Pasta Salad

Made with just a few simple ingredients, this fresh and flavorful Pesto Pasta Salad is a quick and easy family meal you’ll be able to pull together even on those nights you don’t really feel like cooking. Bonus: It stores really well in the fridge for easy future meals, too.

Easy Pesto Pasta Salad Recipe
This is an easy family dinner or lunch. I like to use Spinach Pesto for this, but any will work if you prefer to buy it pre-made from the store.
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pesto-pasta-salad-in-bowl
mac and cheese cups on gray plate

Mac and Cheese Cups

Learn how to make quick Mac and Cheese Bites (with veggies!) for an easy kids lunch or dinner. These mac and cheese cups are so fun, and they’re a nutritious kids meal that can easily double as an appetizer to share with adults.

Easy Mac and Cheese Bites (aka Mac and Cheese Cups)
Learn how to make quick and easy Mac and Cheese Bites for an easy kids lunch or dinner. These bites are fun and a nutritious kids meal that can easily double as an appetizer! You can even add in veggies like broccoli for the most delicious mac and cheese cups.
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mac and cheese cups on wire rack
mac-and-cheese-with-peas-in-pink-bowl

Mac and Cheese with Peas

This easy recipe is one of our very favorite shortcut toddler meals. It comes together quickly, you’re not actually making anything from scratch, and it’s a complete and satisfying meal. Hip, hip, hooray!

Mac and Cheese with Peas (Fav Shortcut Toddler Meal)
With an easy method and a yummy, satisfying result, this quick toddler meal is one of our go-to shortcut kids meals.
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mac-and-cheese-with-peas
sweet-potato-mac-and-cheese-in-bowl

Sweet Potato Mac and Cheese

This Sweet Potato Mac and Cheese requires just 5 simple ingredients, zero prep work, and is just the yummiest pasta recipe! 

Easy Sweet Potato Mac and Cheese
I like to use a small shape to keep this dish as fast as possible.
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sweet-potato-mac-and-cheese-on-counter
easy cauliflower mac and cheese

Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

With a simple cheese sauce—no standing and stirring over the stove here!—a solid dose of veggies, and a super creamy final result, this healthy Cauliflower Mac and Cheese is a fast weeknight lunch or dinner option for toddlers. (And the rest of the family too!)

5-Ingredient Cauliflower Mac and Cheese
Use yellow or white cheese according to your child’s color expectations!
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cauliflower mac and cheese
Avocado pasta in bowls for a vegetarian lunch idea

Avocado Pasta

With a creamy, veggie-packed sauce, this easy Avocado Pasta is packed with kid-friendly flavor and nutrients. And the whole recipe can be made in about 10 minutes of cooking time!

Easy Avocado Pasta
Any pasta shape works in this recipe, so choose your family’s favorite! Omit the garlic if you think the flavor might be too strong for your people. My kids prefer this without the garlic. I like it with it for myself!
Get the recipe
avocado-pasta-in-bowls-on-towel
broccoli-pesto-pasta-on-pink-fork

Broccoli Pesto Pasta

Serve up a dose of nutritious broccoli with this easy (and cheesy!) Broccoli Pesto. It has a bright flavor from the inclusion of fresh lemon, requires no cooking (other than preparing the pasta) and is a perfect sauce for both pasta and pizza.

Easy Broccoli Pesto (for Pasta and Pizza)
This will likely make enough for two meals. You can freeze the leftovers for a future meal. (This recipe was updated to improve the taste and method in April 2019.)
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broccoli pesto on spaghetti in blue bowl with pink fork
baby-pasta-with-spoon-and-yellow-kiwi

Extra-Veggie Pasta

Serve up a filling, yummy lunch with this easy pasta. It includes a tomato based sauce with extra veggies and beans blended in for an iron-rich meal perfect for lunch or dinner. Plus: The sauce freezes so well so you can have a stash of future meals ready and waiting!

Extra-Veggie Baby Pasta (with Iron)
Adding beans and extra veggies helps make this easy baby pasta satisfying, nutritious, and yummy. Serve it more or less saucy as you like. (You can even freeze the sauce for easy future meals.)
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baby-pasta-in-four-white-bowls
stir fry noodles with veggies

Stir Fry Noodles

For many kids, noodles and pasta are a favorite dinner option. This quick Stir Fry Noodles with Veggies family dinner plays off of that familiar starting point and introduces potentially new flavors in a safe way. Dinner time win!

20-Minute Stir Fry Noodles with Veggies
Try this quick family dinner the next time you're craving healthy comfort food—and want to please the entire family! You can add a protein to this dish if you'd like. See the Notes for options.
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stir fry noodles with vegetables
servings-of-broccoli-mac-and-cheese-for-family

One-Pot Broccoli Mac and Cheese

With a super easy method that only requires one pot, you can have this easy Broccoli Mac and Cheese ready for family dinner—or a kids meal. It cooks in about 20 minutes and has a solid dose of nutrients and deliciousness.

One-Pot Broccoli Mac and Cheese
The method on this recipe is streamlined to cut down on dish washing. Add the optional spices for more flavor if you like! Double it to make more.
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servings-of-broccoli-mac-and-cheese-for-family
zucchini pasta in multiple bowls with strawberries on side

Zucchini Pasta

Learn how to turn fresh zucchini into a bright and fresh pasta sauce with a simple method. This easy meal takes less than 30 minutes and the sauce can be made ahead and stored in the fridge or freezer for future meals.

Zucchini Pasta Sauce
Learn how to turn fresh zucchini into a bright and fresh pasta sauce with a simple method. Add the optional toppings for extra flavor as you and your family like. (Heads up: You'll want to reserve a little of the pasta cooking water before you drain the pot.)
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Zucchini pasta on counter in two bowls with side of strawberries
easy marinara sauce with extra veggies

Shortcut Marinara

This is my favorite option when I want lot of flavor, but don’t want to cook from scratch. See below for the full information. You’ll start with a jar or can of sauce, then blend in some white beans and add your pasta. Nutritious and delicious!

Frequently Asked Questions

Is pasta a healthy lunch?

Pasta is an easy source of carbohydrates and you can choose from all types including semolina, whole wheat, bean-based pastas, and more. It’s a favorite lunch because it’s so versatile.

What goes well with a pasta lunch?

You can add simple sides of fruit, raw veggies, a smoothie, or diced chicken or beans.

What’s the best way to pack pasta for lunch?

You can pack pasta salad in a lunch box or warm pasta in a kids thermos.

Best Tips for Success

  • Cook the pasta for the timing indicated on the package for the best results.
  • Season the pasta cooking water with salt before adding the pasta.
  • Start with a smaller portion to reduce potential food waste and allow more according to your child’s unique hunger.
  • Store leftover pasta in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
  • Use any of these as a hot lunch idea packed in a thermos.

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I’d love to hear your feedback on this post, so please comment below to share!

pasta-lunch-ideas-featured

Favorite Pasta Lunch Ideas (to Share with the Kids)

Learn how to make the best shortcut marinara sauce (with extra protein and iron) with this easy method. It's a great lunch to pack in a thermos or have at home.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Cuisine American
Course lunch
Calories 291kcal
Servings 8

Ingredients

  • 1 pound pasta
  • 28 ounce jar marinara sauce
  • 14 ounce can white cannellini beans
  • Parmesan (optional)

Instructions

  • Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain.
  • Meanwhile, add the beans to a colander to drain. Rinse with cold water. Add ½ cup to a blender with the marinara sauce. Blend smooth.
  • Stir as much sauce as you like into the pasta and serve warm topped with Parmesan, if desired.

Notes

Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Make just the sauce and freeze portions using an ice cube tray. Thaw 1-2 overnight in the fridge and add to a smaller amount of pasta for one serving.
Use a 14-ounce can of tomato sauce and ¼ cup beans as desired.
Pack in a thermos as a hot lunch.
See the rest of the post for additional pasta ideas.

Nutrition

Calories: 291kcal, Carbohydrates: 58g, Protein: 12g, Fat: 1g, Saturated Fat: 0.2g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 0.2g, Sodium: 476mg, Potassium: 646mg, Fiber: 6g, Sugar: 5g, Vitamin A: 430IU, Vitamin C: 7mg, Calcium: 62mg, Iron: 3mg
Tried this recipe?Rate in the comments and tag @yummytoddlerfood on IG!

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