Make packing lunch WAY easier with these no-cook school lunch ideas. They work for little and big kids and can be adjusted and customized to suit the preferences of your child. Here’s to less stress about lunch!

no-cook-school-lunches-in-lunch-boxes

School Lunch Ideas

After packing lunches for my oldest kiddo for a few years, I can safely say that it can actually be an easy task if you keep things in perspective and keep things super simple! Kids tend to like simpler meals anyway, so these no-cook school lunch ideas are here to help you if you ever get into a rut, if you run out of ideas, or if you want to let your kids scroll through and see what looks yummy to them.

Easy School Lunch Recipes

I have a lot of recipes for lunch that are perfect for sending in a thermos or a lunchbox, though I’m going to share 10 ideas that require no cooking at all. These are great ideas to throw together at the last minute in the morning (because life happens and I realize that is when many of us are actually packing!) and to make when it feels like you’re running low on groceries.

How to Make School Lunches Step-By-Step

Here are a few tips to keep in mind when packing lunches for kids/

  1. Aim to include a mix of food groups so that you have whole grains, protein, some dairy most days (if the kids eat it or otherwise a nondairy equivalent), a veggie, a fruit, and a food with some healthy fat in it. This will help them to get the nutrients they need and stay full until their afternoon snack.
  2. Remember that lunch periods are short and kids can talk a lot. Pack foods that are easy to chew and eat.
  3. Work with your child to pack foods they like most of the time so that you can feel reasonably confident that they’ll eat the lunch you send.
  4. Pack the lunch in a lunchbox in an insulated bag with an ice pack if you can to keep it cool until lunchtime.
  5. Add water or milk or plan to let the kiddo buy milk at school.
  6. Label anything reusable that they bring to lunch so it’s easy to find if they lose it at school.

TIP: If your child has a nut-allergy, make sure you talk to the school about how that’s handled in the lunchroom. If there’s a peanut table, you may need to request that they have a friend sit with them so that they aren’t alone, which can sometimes happen.

cheese-and-crackers-school-lunch

School Lunch Idea #1: Cheese and Crackers

Combine whole grain crackers, pepperoni, and cheese with mango and snap peas (or a fruit and veggie of your choice) for an easy lunch. This is a nice alternative to a sandwich that you can pack in minutes.

TIP: Shown in an Easy Lunchbox.

bagel-sandwich-school-lunch-in-container

No Cook Lunch #2: Bagel Sandwich

Spread cream cheese and jam, turkey and cheese, hummus and lettuce, or sunflower seed butter and jam onto a lightly toasted bagel for a fun take on a sandwich. Add simple sides of produce like cucumbers and fruit to finish.

TIP: Shown in an Easy Lunchbox.

quesadilla-lunch-with-grapes-and-tomatoes

Easy Lunch #4: Tortilla Triangles

Fill a tortilla with sunflower seed butter and jam, bean dip, hummus, or turkey and cheese, fold over and cut into triangles for an easy lunch. Pack with simple sides such as a yogurt tube, grapes, cherry tomatoes, and bell pepper. (Halve grapes and cherry tomatoes for kids under 4.)

TIP: Shown in a Planetbox.

breakfast-for-lunch-in-omiebox

School Lunch Idea #5: Yogurt and Granola

Pack breakfast for lunch with yogurt, granola, and easy sides of fruit. We like to do this in our Omiebox since the round compartment is a thermos and keeps the yogurt cool.

TIP: Shown in the Omiebox Bento Box.

sandwich-lunch-with-crackers

Easy Kids Lunch #6: Simple Sandwich

There’s nothing wrong with an easy lunch and this sandwich is a great option. Use sunflower seed butter and jam or try Granola Butter, which is also nut-free and is super delicious. Pair with a fruit, veggie, and a fun food like cheese cracker sandwiches.

TIP: Shown in an Easy Lunchboxes Snack Box.

make-ahead-pb&j-in-lunchbox

School Lunch #7: Freeze-Ahead PB&J

I’ve often joked that I always found the idea of Uncrustables super silly…until I actually had kids and realized how convenient a concept they are! But you can do something similar yourself with rounds of bread cut with a cookie cutter, then wrap them in plastic before freezing. Add cheese, kiwi, and crackers on the side for a kid-approved lunch.

TIP: Shown in an Easy Lunchboxes Snack Box.

two snack boxes for kids lunches

Easy Kids Lunch #8: Snack Box

This is our go-to lunch when we otherwise seem like we’re out of food and the kids always love it. Simply choose a whole grain, a protein, two items of produce and combine it all in a lunch box. Quick and easy!

TIP: Shown in an Easy Lunchbox.

hummus-and-crackers-bento-box

Kids Lunch #9: Hummus and Crackers

If your kids like to dip and dunk, try pairing crackers with hummus. Add extra protein with cheese and/or a yogurt tube and a side of fruit like watermelon.

TIP: Shown in an Easy Lunchboxes Snack Box.

pancake-lunch-in-pink-lunchboxSchool Lunch Idea #10: Pancake Lunch

Pair frozen pancakes (simply warm in the microwave if frozen or in the fridge, then cut up) with a drizzle of maple syrup, a smear of jam, nut butter or cream cheese, a filling like cream cheese or sunflower seed butter and jam for a fun breakfast for lunch idea. Use homemade leftover pancakes or store bought ones (Kodiak makes some good ones)—or even try this with freezer waffles! Add applesauce, a veggie or two and a side of milk as desired.

TIP: Shown in the Omiebox Bento Box

Best Tips for Packing School Lunch

  • Try to make sure the foods are easy for the kids to eat in the time they have for lunch. I’ll never forget hearing that my then 6 year old couldn’t eat the baby carrots I sent with her because she didn’t have enough time to chew them!
  • Talk to your child about whether there was too much, not enough, or just the right amount of food so you can avoid wasting food and satisfy their hunger.
  • Let the kids help pack their lunches if they’re interested.
  • Invest in a good lunch box that will last (and be easy to clean!).
  • Place the lunchbox in an insulated bag with an ice pack to keep it cool.
  • Pack water or let the kids buy milk.
  • Aim to send a source of protein, a whole grain, and 2 items of produce (a fruit and a veggie) most days to help the kids hit their nutrition needs.
  • Mix in purchased school lunches—if your kids like them!—with packed ones from home to keep the work for you light.
  • You may also like DIY Pizza Lunchaboes, Lunch Snacks, and my 50 Easy Kindergarten Lunches.

I’d love to hear about your kids favorite school lunches and any feedback if you try these ideas. Please comment below to share!

no-cook-school-lunches-in-lunch-boxes

10 Easy No-Cook School Lunch Ideas

Use these specific ideas for packed lunches or consider them inspiration for packing ones unique to your child. Nutrition info will vary based on the specific ingredients you use.
5 from 4 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Cuisine American
Course lunch
Calories 475kcal
Servings 1

Ingredients

Cheese and Crackers Lunch

  • 1/2 cup whole grain crackers
  • 1 ounce cheese
  • 1 ounce pepperoni
  • 1/2 cup diced mango
  • 1/2 cup snap peas

Bagel Sandwich Lunch

  • 1 mini whole grain bagel
  • 2 tbsp cream cheese, nut or seed butter, and/or jam
  • 1/2 cup fruit salad
  • 1/2 cup sliced cucumbers

Tortilla Triangles

  • 1 medium tortilla
  • 1 tbsp bean dip, nut or seed butter and jam, or 1 ounce each turkey and cheese
  • 1/2 cup grapes (halved for kids under 4)
  • 1/4 cup tomatoes and bell peppers

Yogurt and Granola Lunch

  • 1/2 cup plain or vanilla yogurt
  • 1/4 cup granola (remove whole nuts for kids under 4)
  • 1/4 cup cherry tomatoes (halved if needed)
  • 1/2 cup strawberries or kiwi

Simple Sandwich Lunch

  • 1-2 slices whole grain bread
  • 1-2 tbsp nut or seed butter
  • 1-2 tbsp jam
  • 1 clementine
  • 1/4 cup cucumber sticks

Freeze-Ahead PB&J

  • 2 slices whole grain bread
  • 2 tbsp nut or seed butter
  • 2 tbsp jam
  • 1/2 cup kiwi

Snack Box Lunch

  • 1 ounce salami
  • 1 ounce cheese
  • 1/2 cup snap pea crisps
  • 1/2 cup berries
  • 1/2 cup cucumber

Hummus and Crackers Lunch

  • 1/4-1/2 cup crackers
  • 2 tbsp hummus
  • 1 ounce cheese
  • 1/2 cup watermelon
  • 1 yogurt tube

Pancake Lunch

  • 1-2 pancakes ;
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup, jam, nut or seed butter or cream cheese
  • 1 applesauce pouch
  • 1/4 cup carrot rounds
  • 1/4 cup edamame

Instructions

  • Cheese and Crackers Lunch: Place all foods into lunch box. Pack in an insulated bag with an ice pack. 
  • Bagel Sandwich Lunch: Lightly toast the bagel if desired (it's optional). Place all foods into lunch box. Pack in an insulated bag with an ice pack. 
  • Tortilla Triangles: Lightly warm the tortilla if it's super stiff. Place all foods into lunch box. Pack in an insulated bag with an ice pack. 
  • Yogurt and Granola Lunch: Place all foods into lunch box. Use a thermos or compartment or container that seals tightly for the yogurt to avoid any spills. Pack in an insulated bag with an ice pack. 
  • Simple Sandwich Lunch: Place all foods into lunch box. Pack in an insulated bag with an ice pack. 
  • Freeze-Ahead PB&J: Cut the bread with a 3-4 inch round cookie cutter. Spread the nut or seed butter and the jam onto the bread and wrap with plastic wrap. Make as many as you want and store in the freezer in a freezer storage bag for up to 3 months. Place one directly into a lunch box in the morning and it will thaw by lunch. 
  • Snack Box Lunch: Place all foods into lunch box. Pack in an insulated bag with an ice pack. 
  • Hummus and Crackers Lunch: Place all foods into lunch box. Pack in an insulated bag with an ice pack. You can freeze the yogurt tube to be an extra ice pack and it will thaw by lunchtime. 
  • Pancake Lunch: Warm the pancakes if desired for 30 seconds in the microwave and pack in a thermos to keep warm, or send them to eat at room temperature.

Notes

  • Try to make sure the foods are easy for the kids to eat in the time they have for lunch. I'll never forget hearing that my then 6 year old couldn't eat the baby carrots I sent with her because she didn't have enough time to chew them!
  • Talk to your child about whether there was too much, not enough, or just the right amount of food so you can avoid wasting food and satisfy their hunger.
  • Let the kids help pack their lunches if they're interested.
  • Invest in a good lunch box that will last (and be easy to clean!).
  • Place the lunchbox in an insulated bag with an ice pack to keep it cool.
  • Pack water or let the kids buy milk.
  • Aim to send a source of protein, a whole grain, and 2 items of produce (a fruit and a veggie) most days to help the kids hit their nutrition needs.
  • Mix in purchased school lunches—if your kids like them!—with packed ones from home to keep the work for you light.

Nutrition

Calories: 475kcal, Carbohydrates: 37g, Protein: 18g, Fat: 29g, Saturated Fat: 12g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g, Monounsaturated Fat: 9g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 60mg, Sodium: 943mg, Potassium: 385mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 16g, Vitamin A: 867IU, Vitamin C: 32mg, Calcium: 285mg, Iron: 3mg
Tried this recipe?Rate in the comments and tag @yummytoddlerfood on IG!

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Comments

  1. You mentioned above haveing your kid sit at a different table if they have a nut allergy, I know people who are allergic to certain nuts and can’t even be in the same room with them, myself I can’t be around bananas, the church that I was going to even told a lady to please leave out the bananas in her fruit salad, so she still makes it just with out the bananas

  2. 5 stars
    These are fantastic ideas but my kindergarten stepdaughter literally only eats pb&j (which she can’t have at school) and mac n cheese. She will also eat grapes, corn, and carrots. I can’t even get her to try anything else. She can’t take Mac and cheese to school because it’s no good by lunchtime. I’m at a total loss as to what to pack for her. Hummus? Turkey? Mango? This is all preposterous in her eyes. Maybe I’ll just start packing her these things and hope she eats them because she’s hungry. Thanks for the great ideas anyway.

    1. Do you have a thermos? You could pack mac and cheese that way. Maybe a jam sandwich? I sometimes have success with having my similarly aged kiddo help pack her own lunch and take a little more responsibility (or at least it helps cut down on me trying to come up with what on earth to send.) This age can be hard, I know.

      1. There’s no magic lunch idea that will work for every kiddo, especially since “picky” means something different to everyone. I do my best to offer a range of ideas to help a very diverse pool of kiddos!

  3. 5 stars
    In your thumbnail photo for this post- What are the Little plastic boxes inside the pink omnie box? Always struggling to keep foods separate. Thanks for helpful tips as usual!

    1. I wanted to say the same thing. A lot of these foods are things that no picky eater would ever touch. Hummus? Edamame beans? Salami? These are great food ideas for health nuts. Not picky eaters.

      1. There is no standard definition of “picky eater” so no one person can say what will or won’t work for kids broadly speaking. Kids come in all forms. These are ideas and some might work for some kids, some might not. I try to provide a range through my content in the hopes that an idea here or there might work.