50 Lunch Ideas for Kids at Home or for School

Even the Pickiest of Eaters Will Love These Recipes

avocado toasts on a plate

The Spruce / Cara Cormack

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, but many are also suitable for kids eating vegan, gluten free, egg free, or dairy free.

Many of these recipes are also quick to put together and make a great packed or on-the-go lunch for adults, too.

  • 01 of 50

    Vegan Hummus Avocado Wrap

    Vegan Hummus Avocado Wrap

    The Spruce / Eric Kleinberg

    Use ripe avocado, or even leftover guacamole, and protein-rich hummus to make these vegan hummus avocado 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

    Cold Asian Rice Salad

    The Spruce

    A healthy vegan Asian 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

    Kid-Friendly Energy Bites

    Kid-Friendly Energy Bites

    The Spruce / Kristina Vanni

    Skip the store-bought, highly-processed, sugar-loaded confections, and make your own kid-friendly energy bites at home, instead! With just a handful of wholesome ingredients (and a bit of chocolate!) these energy bites can be mixed up in a matter of minutes.

  • 04 of 50

    Cheesy Meatball Bombs

    Meatball Bombs

    The Spruce / Leah Maroney

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

    Continue to 5 of 50 below.
  • 05 of 50

    The Ultimate Avocado Toast

    avocado toasts on a plate

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

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

  • 06 of 50

    Easy Pizza Pockets

    Easy Pizza Pockets

    The Spruce / Diana Rattray

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

  • 07 of 50

    Easy Meatloaf Muffins

    Meatloaf Muffins

    The Spruce

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

  • 08 of 50

    Crock Pot Chicken Noodle Soup

    Crock Pot Chicken Noodle Soup

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

    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.

    Continue to 9 of 50 below.
  • 09 of 50

    Pasta Salad With Chicken and Spinach

    Pasta Salad With Chicken and Spinach

    The Spruce / Eric Kleinberg

    Send yours to school with this packed pasta salad full of chicken, spinach, tomatoes, and other crunchy veggies. Use cooked leftover chicken, canned chicken, or a rotisserie chicken for this tasty salad recipe. The recipe is very forgiving, so feel free to change some of the ingredients to suit your taste.

  • 10 of 50

    Pepperoni Pizza Sliders

    Pepperoni Pizza Sliders

    The Spruce / Anita Schecter

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

  • 11 of 50

    Salmon and Cream Cheese Tea Sandwiches

    Salmon and Cream Cheese Tea Sandwiches

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

    Cream cheese and smoked salmon have traditionally been a favorite topping for bagels, but this combination can also make a wonderful filling for finger sandwiches. This recipe is a quick and easy addition for a light lunch. Place them in a cold bag to keep chilled until it's time to eat.

  • 12 of 50

    Vegetable Beef Soup

    Old-Fashioned Vegetable Beef Soup

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

    Cook up a big pot of this warming vegetable 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

    Low-Fat Vegan Eggplant Lasagna

    The Spruce 

    Make a 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 before placing it in insulated lunch bags and lunchboxes.

  • 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 honeyed 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

    BBQ Chicken Salad

    bbq ranch chicken salad
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray

    This BBQ chicken salad is so satisfying even the adults will be fighting over it. We use poached chicken breast, but feel free to use a store-bought rotisserie chicken and bottled dressing if you're short on time. Pack the dressing separately and let the kids shake it all together when ready to eat.

  • 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 pizza toppings, such as diced green bell peppers, pepperoni slices, and mushrooms. Wrap in tinfoil to keep warm.

    Continue to 17 of 50 below.
  • 17 of 50

    Chicken Waldorf Sandwiches

    Chicken Salad Sandwich

    TheCrimsonMonkey / Getty Images

    The short set will enjoy the sweet, crunchy ingredients in these unusual chicken Waldorf sandwiches. 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

    Vegan 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

    Creamy Potato Soup With Ham

    Creamy Potato Soup With Ham

    The Spruce/Katarina Zunic

    This creamy potato soup with ham 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

    Chocolate Chip 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

    This vegetable fried rice with spinach 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 Pigs in a Blanket

    The Spruce / Eric Kleinberg

    Little ones will gobble up these crescent roll pigs in a blanket. 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

    Low-cal ham and turkey wrap

    The Spruce

    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 ham and turkey wrap. Slice it into pinwheels if you like.

    Continue to 25 of 50 below.
  • 25 of 50

    Mini Cucumber and Cream Cheese Sandwiches

    Cucumber Cream Cheese Tea Sandwiches

    The Spruce / Loren Runion

    Kids love this mini cucumber and cream cheese sandwiches recipe, 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 crock pot 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 Crock Pot Taco Soup

    Vegetarian Crock Pot Taco Soup

     The Spruce

    Three kinds of beans provide this Tex-Mex vegetarian crock pot 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

    This smooth and creamy perfect 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 on a plate

     The Spruce Eats / Leah Maroney

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

  • 30 of 50

    Simple Chicken Salad

    Simple Chicken Salad With Grapes

    The Spruce / Maxwell Cozzi

    Juicy red or green seedless grapes (cut in half for safety) add a burst of sweetness to this simple 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 gluten-free 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

    Cheese and bell pepper quesadilla

    The Spruce / Emily Hawkes

    Vegetarian oven-baked cheese 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

    The Spruce / 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 of these corn waffles before digging in.

  • 34 of 50

    Cold Soba Noodle Salad

    Cold soba noddle recipe

    The Spruce / Andrew Bui

    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 four-cheese mac and cheese muffins in muffin tins prepared with paper liners to create filling pasta bites that students can eat with their hands.

  • 36 of 50

    Chicken Tenders

    Crispy Baked Chicken Tenders Recipe

    The Spruce / Ali Redmond

    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 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

    Peanut Butter Hummus

    Peanut Butter Hummus

    The Spruce/Cara Cormack

    Peanut butter hummus is definitely a kid favorite. Naturally high in protein, it can also be helpful for picky eaters who don't eat a lot of meats. But, while we definitely would like children to eat more legumes, such as the chickpeas that form the base of all hummus, the fact is that most adults love peanut butter every bit as much as children do.

  • 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 stuffed baked potatoes with bacon and cheddar cheese recipe ahead and refrigerate for up to three days.

  • 40 of 50

    Pasta With Vegan Spinach Cashew Pesto

    Vegan Spinach Cashew Pesto

    The Spruce / Stephanie Goldfinger

    This pasta with vegan spinach cashew pesto 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

    This hummus sandwich is 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

    The Spruce / Diana Rattray

    Kids get plenty of energy from a meaty crock pot hamburger soup you can make on the weekend in the crock pot, 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

    Chicken Kabobs for Kids

    Sweet and Sour Hot Dogs

    Juanmonino / Getty Images

    Kabobs have magical powers for kids. The exact same food served on a plate may hold no appeal to them. But put it on a stick and voila! Suddenly, it becomes tasty. Such is the case when I make these chicken kabobs. The red pepper and spring onion add beautiful color to these chicken kabobs.

  • 44 of 50

    Vegetarian Tofu "Egg" Salad

    Vegetarian Tofu "Egg" Salad Sandwich

    sbossert / Getty Images

    Vegan and vegetarian kids can enjoy the texture and taste of "egg" salad sandwiches with this sneakily healthy vegetarian 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 salad on a croissant

    4kodiak / Getty Images

    This salmon croissant sandwiches recipe is a fun idea for your little one's lunchbox. 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 broccoli cheddar soup recipe, which blends the two ingredients together into a warming thermos-ready soup.

  • 47 of 50

    Gluten-Free and Vegan Italian Rice and Beans

    Italian-style vegetarian rice and beans

    The Spruce / Anastasiia Tretiak

    This gluten-free and vegan Italian rice and beans 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

    The Spruce / Diana Rattray

    This loaded taco 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 ham 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

    Bierocks (Runzas)

    Skip the store-bought, highly-processed, sugar-loaded confections, and make your own kid-friendly energy bites at home, instead! With just a handful of wholesome ingredients (and a bit of chocolate!) these energy bites can be mixed up in a matter of minutes.

    Soft and pillowy with a golden-brown top, these rolls are loaded with ground beef, cabbage, and onions. Bierocks—pronounced bee-rock and also known as runzas—are a German/Eastern European roll that made its way to the American Midwest. They're similar to the Russian pirozhki, another popular European meat-stuffed pastry.