Find non-sandwich lunch ideas kids (and adults) to help break out of that lunch rut—and still have really easy, yummy ideas for that midday meal. Each idea takes minutes to make or can be made entirely ahead of time.

non-sandwich lunch ideas in grid of 6.

Non-Sandwich Lunches for Adults and Kids

As someone who has shared a ton of toddler lunch Ideas and packed a lot of kids lunches over the years, I can safely say that there are days when we need something other than a sandwich for lunch.

I mean, they are easy, but it can be great to mix things up with other easy options. And the ideas below are just that: Quick lunch ideas that can work for adults or kids and use all sorts of variety.

Each idea can be made ahead of time whenever you have a spare moment or right before packing lunches. I love how versatile these are—you can enjoy them at work or home and your kiddo can have them at daycare or school—and that there are a load of flavors and textures.

(You may also like, Cold Lunch Ideas for Kids15 Lunch Ideas for Daycare and 50 Kindergarten Lunch Ideas.)

chicken meatball lunch box

Chicken Meatballs with Carrots

With just four simple and affordable ingredients, you can make tender Baked Chicken Meatballs to share with the kids. We like them with sauteed carrots and fresh fruit.

4-Ingredient Baked Chicken Meatballs
With just four simple and affordable ingredients, you can make tender Baked Chicken Meatballs to share with the kids. Bonus: You can tuck a veggie into the mix, and they are perfect to batch-cook and stash in the freezer!
4-Ingredient Baked Chicken Meatballs
baked chicken meatballs on cookie sheet.
quinoa salad and strawberry yogurt lunch prep

Quinoa Salad and Drinkable Yogurt

With a handful of simple, nutritious ingredients, you can mix up this fresh Mediterranean Quinoa Salad to have on hand for lunches for yourself—or to serve deconstructed for the kids. It even stores well in the fridge for up to 5 days. Enjoy with some crackers.

Easy Mediterranean Quinoa Salad
Mix up this grain salad to have lunches prepped for the week for yourself, or to have a dinner side or vegetarian main dish to share with the family.
Easy Mediterranean Quinoa Salad
mediterranean quinoa salad on two plates
hummus and pita in lunch box

Hummus and Pita

Pair any kind of hummus you like with triangles of pita bread, add in some fresh veggies, and call it good. Add milk or cheese for extra protein if you’d like. (Here are some tips on how to serve veggies for lunch that are easy for the kids to chew.)

Easy Sweet Potato Hummus
When I just need one sweet potato for a recipe, I often cook it in the microwave. Dice it, place it in a large 4-cup glass measuring cup, cover with two inches of water and cook for about 5 minutes or until soft. Roasted Sweet Potato or Crockpot Sweet Potato works well too!  
Easy Sweet Potato Hummus
chicken salad in lunch container

Chicken Salad with Crackers

Crunchy lettuce, grilled chicken (or pan-seared chicken tenders), served with fruit and crackers is an easy salad that can appeal to a range of ages. Add sunflower seeds for crunch and cheese for creaminess, if you’d like.

How to Make Kids Salad (They’ll Actually Want to Eat)
Here’s a look at basic templates for making kid-friendly salads. Pick and choose the ingredients you like! (Nutrition info will vary according to the ingredients you use.)
How to Make Kids Salad (They’ll Actually Want to Eat)

Pizza Bites

These Pizza Bites warm nicely and are great leftovers to send or serve for lunch. Plus, you can customize the filling to please your kids. We like these with a little side of warmed marinara sauce for dipping, but that’s optional.

Favorite Pizza Bites
Fluffy pizza bites are a delicious lunch or dinner option—and you can customize the filling to please your kids! We like these with a little side of warmed marinara sauce for dipping.
Favorite Pizza Bites
hummus wrap in lunchbox

Hummus Wrap

Roll up just a few ingredients for satisfying (and really versatile) Vegetarian Hummus Wraps. This no-cook meal is an easy lunch for school—or for work or home for you. And you can make it in less than 5 minutes!

Easy Hummus Wrap (to Share with the Kids)
Quickly combine a few simple ingredients to make a really yummy lunch wrap. This recipe makes one wrap, so increase the serving size as necessary.
Easy Hummus Wrap (to Share with the Kids)
hummus wraps on white plates with apple slices

Pizza Lunchable

Have more fun with lunch with this super quick and easy Pizza Lunchable idea. It’s one of our favorite copycat recipes that makes it less expensive to recreate Lunchables at home to pack for lunch. Plus, you can even customize them for everyone’s preferences.

DIY Pizza Lunchables
Have more fun with lunch with this super quick and easy Pizza Lunchable idea. It's one of our favorite copycat recipes that makes it less expensive to recreate Lunchables at home…that you can even customize!
DIY Pizza Lunchables
homemade pizza lunchable on counter.

Pizza Muffins

Bake a batch of easy Pizza Muffins for the flavor kids love, in an easy to eat (and reheat!) format. These healthy muffins have a dose of shredded carrots for extra nutrition and are an easy lunch option to pack in a thermos or serve at home.

Pizza Muffins (with Veggies!)
These work well to make ahead and warm up for an easy lunch or dinner. These taste best served warm.
Pizza Muffins (with Veggies!)
oatmeal muffin lunch with fruit

Muffin Lunch

Muffins are a great lunch option—just consider them the main dish and surround them with easy sides as you like.

Pumpkin Oatmeal Muffins
These store well in the fridge so you can make them a day or two ahead if you prefer—or bake and serve warm from the oven. These taste like a cross between baked oatmeal and a traditional pumpkin muffin (they don’t have any flour, so they’re a little denser than a traditional muffin, but still super moist!).

Pumpkin Oatmeal Muffins
healthy pumpkin chocolate chip muffins on rack

Sweet Potato Chicken Bowls

Make quick work of lunch meal prep with this sheet pan lunch idea that works well to make ahead and pack for lunch

Sweet Potato Chicken Bowls (Easy Meal Prep)
You can meal prep this recipe to have ready for future lunches or dinners to share with the kids or you can make it as a family dinner. Add flavor to your bowl with the optional ingredients.
Sweet Potato Chicken Bowls (Easy Meal Prep)

Best Tips for Success

  • Do your best to include some protein and/or fat in each meal to help satisfy hunger.
  • Do your best with portions and adjust if uneaten food comes home or the kids say they’re still hungry.
  • Pack food in an insulated lunch bag with an ice pack.
  • Invest in a kids thermos to last for years of packed lunches—so you’ll have the flexibility to pack warm foods, too.

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

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Favorite Non-Sandwich Lunch Ideas

Find easy recipes for lunch that aren't sandwiches, including this simple Chicken Caesar Salad. It can work for kids or adults.
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 0 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Cuisine American
Course lunch
Calories 237kcal
Servings 1


  • 1-2 cups shredded romaine lettuce
  • ¼-½ cup thinly sliced grilled or rotisserie chicken
  • ¼-½ cup sliced strawberries
  • Shredded almonds, shredded cheese, diced avocado drizzled with lemon, and/or croutons (optional)
  • 2-3 tablespoons Caesar dressing
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  • Add the lettuce, chicken, strawberries, and desired toppings in a container. (Or on a plate.) Be sure to very finely shred the lettuce for kids under age 3.
  • Place the dressing into a small dip container or add it to the salad, either on the side or drizzled on top.


Increase amounts of each ingredient as you like.
Pack in an lunchbox in an insulated lunch bag with a ice pack.
Swap out the chicken for white beans, cooked tofu, or another protein you like.


Calories: 237kcal, Carbohydrates: 5g, Protein: 12g, Fat: 18g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 10g, Monounsaturated Fat: 4g, Cholesterol: 41mg, Sodium: 386mg, Potassium: 269mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 3g, Vitamin A: 4115IU, Vitamin C: 23mg, Calcium: 41mg, Iron: 1mg
Tried this recipe?Rate in the comments and tag @yummytoddlerfood on IG!

This post was first published August 2022.

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