50 Lunch Ideas For Kids at Home or For School

Even the pickiest of eaters will love these recipes

Cream Cheese and Smoked Salmon Pinwheels

Jennifer Meier

 

Kids have their own ideas about what makes a great lunch, which can be a challenge for parents who want them to eat healthy. If you're looking for nutritious ideas that children will actually finish, try recipes that are sure to win approval from the short set. From pizza pockets and veggie fried rice to macaroni muffins and avocado wraps, these go way beyond the typical ham and cheese sandwich. Not only will the tasty options please even the pickiest of young eaters, many are suitable for kids eating vegan, gluten-free, egg-free, or dairy-free.

  • 01 of 50

    Vegan Hummus Avocado Wrap

    Vegan Hummus Avocado Wrap

    Michael Powell/Getty Images

     

    Use ripe avocado—or even leftover guacamole—and protein-rich hummus to make these vegetarian wraps. Add some sprouts or salad greens for crunch, but leave out the tomato if sending to school to avoid sogginess.

  • 02 of 50

    Vegan Asian Rice Salad

    Vegan Asian Rice Salad

    Jolinda Hackett

     

    A healthy Asian-inspired rice salad with plenty of vegetables is a fabulous way to give vegan kids a boost of energy at lunchtime. Brown rice is full of protein and fiber and kids love the crunchy texture and sweet and sour flavors.

  • 03 of 50

    Cheesy Meatball Bombs

    meatball bombs

     Leah Maroney

    These cheesy and saucy meatball bombs that start with packaged biscuit dough explode with kid-favorite Italian flavors of meatballs, tomato sauce, and Parmesan cheese.

  • 04 of 50

    The Ultimate Avocado Toast

    The Ultimate Avocado Toast

    Leah Maroney

     

    Kids love creamy avocado and this easy toast recipe can be served simply as is, or layered with slices of crispy bacon to make a great open-faced lunch sandwich.

    Continue to 5 of 50 below.
  • 05 of 50

    Easy Pizza Pockets

    Easy Pizza Pockets
    Diana Rattray

    Whip up an easy tomato sauce, crack open a tube of refrigerated biscuit mix, gather some favorite pizza toppings, and you've got everything need to make these kid-favorite pizza pockets.

  • 06 of 50

    Easy Meatloaf Muffins

    Easy Meatloaf Muffins

    Hungry-girl.com

     

    Give kids a comforting, home-style lunch with this recipe for cute meatloaf rounds that are from a classic meatloaf mixture baked in muffin tins.

  • 07 of 50

    Chicken Noodle Soup

    Chicken Noodle Soup

    Lilli Day/Stockbyte/Getty Images

     

    A thermos full of chicken noodle soup is the next best thing to a hug from mom. Make this tasty soup on the weekend and freeze in individual portions for heating and packing into a thermos for school lunches any day of the week.

  • 08 of 50

    Strawberry Spinach Salad

    Strawberry Spinach Salad

    Brian Leatart-Getty Images

     

    Most kids love sweet, fresh strawberries when they come into season. Send yours to school with this healthy spinach salad dotted with the warm-weather fruit. To avoid wilted greens, pack the vinaigrette separately in a small container, so kids can dress and "shake" their salad just before eating.

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  • 09 of 50

    Pepperoni Pizza Sliders

    Pepperoni Pizza Sliders

    Anita Schecter

     

    Skip the takeout pizza with this recipe, which layers ingredients from a pepperoni pie onto slider buns to create mini-pizza sandwiches kids will love to eat.

  • 10 of 50

    Cream Cheese and Smoked Salmon Pinwheels

    Cream Cheese and Smoked Salmon
    Photo by Jennifer Meier

    Do your kids like sushi? Tell them these nutritious pinwheels with cream cheese and smoked salmon are "sushi sandwiches" and watch their lunch bag to come home empty. Place a cold bag in with them to keep chilled until it's time to eat.

  • 11 of 50

    Dairy-Free Vegetarian Pasta Salad

    Dairy-Free Vegetarian Pasta Salad-

    Jolinda Hackett

     

    This vegetarian pasta salad is both dairy- and meat-free, making it a great lunch for kids with dietary restrictions. It's also creamy and fresh-tasting thanks to whole wheat curly pasta, ripe avocado, cherry tomatoes, green onion, and basil.

  • 12 of 50

    Vegetable Beef Soup

    Beef Soup

    Magrig/Getty Images

    Cook up a big pot of this warming beef soup on the weekend for thermos lunches. The recipe is packed with potatoes, green beans, carrots, celery, and onion, but you can add whatever vegetables you have on hand, such as corn or zucchini.

    Continue to 13 of 50 below.
  • 13 of 50

    Vegetable Lasagna

    Vegetable Lasagna-Cultura

    Brett Stevens-Riser-Getty Images

     

    Make this nutritious vegetable lasagna on the weekend and freeze it in individual portions for easy weekday meals. Prep by heating it through in the microwave and wrapping it in aluminum foil for their insulated lunch bag.

  • 14 of 50

    Honeyed Fruit Salad

    Honeyed Fruit Salad

    kajakiki-Getty Images

     

    For those hot days when kids often crave a lighter lunch, this sweetened fruit salad with honey, lemon, and just a little sugar does the trick. Pack it into a plastic or glass container and add some cheese cubes and crackers to their lunch bags as a delicious snack.

  • 15 of 50

    Mason Jar Cobb Salad

    Mason Jar Cobb Salad

    Piotr Marcinski-EyeEm

     

    This salad packed into a mason jar is almost too cool for school. Kids will love shaking it up before they dig in and it's packed with plenty of nutritious ingredients that parents approve of, like cooked chicken, hard boiled egg, cherry tomatoes, and avocado.

  • 16 of 50

    Pizza Wraps

    Pizza Wrap Sandwiches

    Paul Poplis/Getty Images

    These easy pizza wraps with just three ingredients are basically cheese quesadillas with spaghetti sauce added inside. Go ahead and stuff them with your little ones' other favorite 'za toppings, such as diced green bell peppers, pepperoni slices, and mushrooms. Wrap in tinfoil to keep warm.

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  • 17 of 50

    Chicken Waldorf Sandwiches

    Chicken Waldorf Sandwiches
    Linda Larsen

    The short set will enjoy the sweet, crunchy ingredients in this unusual chicken salad served between slices of cinnamon raisin bread. The chicken-and-mayo filling gets extra zip from honey mustard and is mixed with chopped green apples, walnuts, and dried cranberries.

  • 18 of 50

    Vegan Banana Muffins

    Vegan Banana Muffins

    The Spruce

     

    Banana muffins are a great way to get healthy fruit into kids. Make them with or without walnuts and feel free to toss some vegan chocolate chips into the batter.

  • 19 of 50

    Potato and Ham Soup With Cheese

    Chunky Potato Soup With Ham
    Diana Rattray

    Creamy potato and ham soup with cheese is like eating a stuffed baked potato in a bowl. Fill kids' thermoses with the rich and filling soup, which—along with some crackers—makes an excellent school lunch on colder days.

  • 20 of 50

    Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

    Best Banana Bread

    Katie Workman / themom100.com

    Tender chocolate chip banana bread packed with plenty of healthy fruit is a lunchbox snack kids will love. Give them a special treat by packing slices along with an orange or apple to keep their meal balanced.

    Continue to 21 of 50 below.
  • 21 of 50

    Vegetable Fried Rice with Spinach

    Fried Rice with vegetables and sesame on stone slate background

    Lisovskaya Natalia / Getty Images

    Vegan and vegetarian fried rice with spinach, tomato, and green beans makes a healthy, meat-free thermos lunch idea for busy kids. You could also add some diced marinated tofu and any other vegetables you usually toss into a stir fry.

  • 22 of 50

    Greek Salad

    Greek Salad

    Patricia Fenn Gallery-Getty Images

     

    A Greek salad has plenty of bright, crunchy veggies, plus salty black olives and creamy feta cheese, all dressed simply in a drizzle of olive oil and oregano.

  • 23 of 50

    Crescent Roll Pigs in a Blanket

    Crescent Roll Hot Dogs
    Diana Rattray

    Little ones will gobble up these crescent dough-wrapped hot dog bites. Be sure to add extra for sharing and pack them along with little containers of mustard and ketchup for dipping.

  • 24 of 50

    Ham and Turkey Wrap

    Ham and turkey wrap

    Tom Grill/Getty Images 

    Deli-style turkey breast and honeyed ham slices are layered onto a whole-wheat tortilla wrap with Dijon mustard and some greens, then rolled up for an easy handheld lunch. Slice it into pinwheels if you like!

    Continue to 25 of 50 below.
  • 25 of 50

    Cucumber and Cream Cheese Sandwiches

    An image of Cucumber & Cream Cheese Finger Sandwiches.
    Lindsey Goodwin

    Kids love these mini cream cheese and cucumber sandwiches, which can be cut into long "finger" shapes (or any other shapes) for their lunchboxes.

  • 26 of 50

    Beefy Macaroni and Cheese

    Beefy Macaroni and Cheese

    burwellphotography-Getty Images

     

    Fire up your crockpot on the weekend to make this beefy macaroni and cheese for thermos lunches. It's easily made with inexpensive grocery store ingredients, including lean ground beef, prepared cheese sauce, condensed soup, canned tomatoes, and elbow noodles.

  • 27 of 50

    Vegetarian Crockpot Taco Soup

    Vegetarian Crockpot Taco Soup I

     The Spruce

    Three kinds of beans provide this Tex-Mex taco soup with plenty of protein and the seasoning mix gives it the familiar taste of their favorite Mexican food. Skip the cheese and sour cream toppings to keep it vegan.

  • 28 of 50

    Perfect Tomato Soup

    Perfect Tomato Soup

    Aleksandr Kuzmin-Getty Images

     

    Smooth and creamy tomato soup in a thermos makes a great lunch for kids on cooler school days. It's easily made with canned and fresh tomatoes, canned broth, onion, carrot, and simple seasonings. Float some goldfish crackers on top for a whimsical surprise!

    Continue to 29 of 50 below.
  • 29 of 50

    Caprese Salad

    Caprese Salad

    TheCrimsonMonkey-Getty Images

     

    Fresh mozzarella—or in kid speak, "squishy cheese"—is added to juicy sliced tomatoes and fresh basil leaves in this simple olive oil-dressed salad.

  • 30 of 50

    Simple Chicken Salad With Grapes

     The Spruce

    Juicy red or green seedless grapes (cut in half for safety) add a burst of sweetness to this chicken salad. You can use the recipe to make sandwiches or add some chopped iceberg lettuce to make it a container salad.

  • 31 of 50

    Gluten-Free Macaroni and Cheese

    gluten-free macaroni and cheese
    Greg Elms/Getty Images

    Gluten-free kids will be the envy of their friends at lunchtime when you send them to school with this rich and creamy macaroni and cheese in their thermos. Amaranth flour is the secret to the thickened four-cheese sauce.

  • 32 of 50

    Vegetarian Oven-Baked Cheese Quesadillas

    Vegetarian Oven-Baked Cheese Quesadillas

    Darren Wise-Getty Images

     

    Mexican-style quesadillas with tons of melted cheese and a trio of crunchy, diced bell peppers make a winning school lunch. Bake them quickly in the morning and send them off with little containers of sour cream and salsa for dipping.

    Continue to 33 of 50 below.
  • 33 of 50

    Corn Waffles

    Corn Waffles
    Diana Rattray

    Waffles for lunch! Sneakily healthy waffles have canned whole kernel corn inside for extra nutrition. Wrap in foil to keep warm and add a small container of maple syrup that kids can pour on top before digging in.

  • 34 of 50

    Cold Soba Noodle Salad

    Cold Soba Noodle Salad

    Laurel Randolph

     

    Cold soba noodle salad is flavorful and fun for kids to eat, thanks to its chewy, nutty-tasting buckwheat noodles, carrots, cucumber, bell pepper, radishes, and green onions. It makes a refreshing lunch on warm days.

  • 35 of 50

    Four-Cheese Mac and Cheese Muffins

    Four-Cheese Mac and Cheese Muffins

    Katie Workman-themom100

     

    Mac and cheese is a kid-friendly lunch that's even more fun to eat when turned into cute little muffins! You bake the macaroni and cheese in muffin tins prepared with paper liners to create filling pasta bites that students can eat with their hands.

  • 36 of 50

    Chicken Tenders

    Gluten-Free Fried Chicken Tenders

    Brian Macdonald-Photodisc-Getty Images

     

    If your kids dig chicken nuggets, they'll enjoy these home-baked chicken tenders with a crunchy crouton coating. Pack in an insulated lunch bag for school with some raw veggie sticks or whole fruit.

    Continue to 37 of 50 below.
  • 37 of 50

    Greek Mini Frittatas

    Greek Mini Frittatas

    Katie Workman-themom100

     

    Kids who like omelets will enjoy these Greek-style mini frittatas that you bake in muffin tins. Eggs, chopped fresh vegetables, and crumbled feta cheese combine with a few simple seasonings to make the tasty, handheld lunch bites.

  • 38 of 50

    Avocado Hummus

    Herbaceous Avocado Hummus

    Anita Schecter 

    Protein-rich hummus gets extra creaminess and flavor from ripe avocado in this food processor recipe. Whip up a batch and pack with pita bread triangles and raw veggie sticks for dipping.

  • 39 of 50

    Stuffed Baked Potatoes With Bacon and Cheddar Cheese

    Stuffed Baked Potatoes With Bacon and Cheddar Cheese

    Imagesbybarbara-E+-Getty Images

     

    Kids love stuffed potatoes and these twice-baked wonders are loaded with cheddar cheese and bacon for extra lunchtime goodness. You can also make this recipe ahead and refrigerate for up to three days.

  • 40 of 50

    Pasta With Vegan Spinach Cashew Pesto

    Pasta With Vegan Spinach Cashew Pesto

    Ashley Adams

     

    This filling green pasta with cashews and spinach has plenty of protein and vitamins to keep vegan kids going and packs easily into their school thermos for a warm lunch.

    Continue to 41 of 50 below.
  • 41 of 50

    Hummus Sandwich

    Vegetarian Black Bean and Hummus Sandwich Wrap

    Sam Stowell/Getty Images

    Hummus sandwiches are so easy to make and a great way to sneak extra protein into vegan and vegetarian eaters at lunchtime. All you need is pita bread, store-bought hummus, and your kids' favorite crunchy vegetables.

  • 42 of 50

    Crock Pot Hamburger Soup

    Crock Pot Hamburger Soup

    Diana Rattray

     

    Kids get plenty of energy from a meaty soup you can make on the weekend in the crockpot, with ground beef, frozen and fresh vegetables, onion soup mix, canned tomato sauce, elbow macaroni, a little soy sauce, and Italian seasonings.

  • 43 of 50

    Sweet and Sour Hot Dogs

    Sweet and Sour Hot Dogs

    Juanmonino-Getty Images

     

    It doesn't take long to whip up this thermos lunch—the sweet and sour hot dogs are sliced and cooked in just 15 minutes.

  • 44 of 50

    Vegetarian Tofu "Egg" Salad Sandwich

    Vegetarian Tofu

    sbossert-Getty Images

     

    Vegan and vegetarian kids can enjoy the texture and taste of "egg" salad sandwiches with this sneakily healthy tofu egg salad. Vegan mayo and sweet pickle relish give the fluffy, protein-packed sandwich a great tangy taste and creamy texture.

    Continue to 45 of 50 below.
  • 45 of 50

    Salmon Croissant Sandwiches

    Salmon Croissant Sandwiches
    Linda Larsen

    Salmon salad packed onto a buttery, flaky croissant is a fun idea for your little one's lunch box. You can swap out the lettuce for other greens depending on what your kids prefer.

  • 46 of 50

    Broccoli Cheddar Soup

    broccoli and cheddar soup

     kirin_photo/E+/Getty Images

    If your kids enjoy broccoli with cheese sauce, they're sure to like this warming recipe, which blends the two ingredients together into a warming thermos-ready soup.

  • 47 of 50

    Gluten-Free and Vegan Italian Rice and Beans

    Gluten-Free and Vegan Italian Rice and Beans

    Alex Vasilescu-Getty Images

    Saucy beans and rice with Italian-style tomatoes is gluten-free, vegan, and can be made with just a handful of pantry ingredients for a great last-minute lunch idea on colder days.

  • 48 of 50

    Taco Salad

    Taco Salad
    Diana Rattray

    This loaded salad with ground beef, refried beans, cheddar cheese, taco seasonings, and chunky tomato salsa features all of kids' favorite Tex-Mex ingredients. Add some tortilla chips for dipping!

    Continue to 49 of 50 below.
  • 49 of 50

    Ham Salad Sandwiches

    Ham Salad Sandwiches

    David Loftus-Getty Images

     

    Use leftover cooked ham and your kids' favorite bread to make these easy salad sandwiches. Celery and onion add a nice crunch to the filling, which gets some extra tang from a little yellow or Dijon mustard mixed into the mayonnaise.

  • 50 of 50

    Mini Pizza Bites

    Mini Pizza Bites

    Foodcollection-Getty Images

     

    Mini flatbreads made with store-bought canned crescent dough and pizza sauce are easy for parents to whip up and don't have to be reheated since they taste great at any temperature. Feel free to adjust the toppings to suit your family's tastes.