Kids Lunch Ideas & Recipes

Do you need ideas for kids lunches? If you are like me it can be simple to plan easy kids meals for breakfast.
Dinner is the major event to plan. But lunches are difficult for me. You can only have so much peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or canned soup!
lunch recipes

To help I've made a list of kid lunch ideas and posted it on the fridge and in my cookbook.  I even had the kids sit down with me and we brainstormed lunch ideas. I especially like to do this before the school year starts and I'm always in need of kid lunch box ideas.

Help your kids be in charge of packing lunch with these easy recipes for kids.

Here are Some of Our Favorite Ideas for Kids Lunches

These ideas work well served at home or put into a lunch box. Just stock up on plastic containers of various sizes, a kid size thermos, several ice packs and a lunch box and you can turn most healthy meal recipes into kids lunches.
  1. Pasta Noodles sprinkled with Parmesan cheese.(add chopped ham or turkey)
  2. Peanut butter sandwich
  3. Toasted honey sandwich. Place honey in a mini container and include a spreader for putting together at lunchtime.
  4. Hot dog or homemade corn dogs
  5. Homemade or store bought pizza bites or bagel pizzas
  6. Soup in a thermos and breadsticks on side. 
  7. Rice with or without shredded chicken
  8. Pasta salad
  9. Lunch kabob-Ham, pineapple, cheese cubes or something similar
  10. Mini quiches
  11. Chicken kabob with rice on the side
  12. Tuna sandwich in a pita
  13. Chicken salad sandwich-shredded chicken and small bit of mayo
  14. Baked chicken breast with a bread roll
  15. Chicken meatballs
  16. Teriyaki chicken chunks
  17. Quesdillas
  18. Chicken Lo Mein with baby corn
  19. Tortilla wraps 
  20. Deli meat sandwich or mini subs
  21. Mini bagel sandwiches
  22. Biscuit sticks with ham and cheese
  23. Beefaroni or Spaghettios
  24. Fish sticks
  25. Homemade or store bought Chicken nuggets
  26. Leftovers 
  27. Cheese sandwich
  28. Stir Fry or Fried Rice
  29. Bean, corn, hamburger bake -simply add canned beans, drained, can corn drained and ground hamburger. 
  30. Pizza on a stick-sausage chunks, veggie chunks, pepperoni chunks. Serve with a breadstick on the side.
  31. Green salad or fruit salad
  32. Boiled Eggs or scrambled 
  33. Egg Salad sandwich
  34. Leftovers
  35. Pepperoni sandwich
  36. Rice Balls
  37. Chicken drumsticks
  38. Chili in a thermos
  39. Stromboli or calzones 
  40. Taco Salad 
  41. Sloppy joes with a bun on the side 
  42. Mini meat pies
  43. Taco ingredients with a tortilla or tortilla chips
  44. Leftovers! Make a little extra each night for dinner. This provides lunch for anyone the next day including your kids school lunches. Or if you don't want to eat something twice in a row freeze them in Rubbermaid containers to pull out later. Check out some leftover recipe ideas.
  45. Homemade Chicken Soup. Place roast chicken with chopped carrots, a quartered onion, 1-2 celery leaves and 2 bay leaves in a large soup pot. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Cook and simmer on medium-low 1 hour. Drain broth into large bowl. Allow to cool. Shred chicken. Use the shredded chicken for a casserole or other dish. Freeze the broth for a quick soup for lunches. Or if you want soup now add noodles, frozen carrots and peas and cook until vegetables and pasta are tender. A quick homemade soup that can be used for kids lunches or eaten at home. More chicken soup recipes.
  46. Think out of the box for sandwiches. Try cut out bread with fun cookie cutters, bagels, tortilla wraps, crackers, pancakes or crepes. This changes things up. I've even given my son peanut butter on a pancake cut into triangles. It was a hit! See some kids sandwich ideas.
  47. fun sandwich face
  48. Pasta. When cooking macaroni and cheese add in peas, ham or tuna. Or for school lunches cook fun pasta noodles and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, Italian dressing, leftover spaghetti sauce or tomato sauce.

  49. Mini calzones. Make small ham and cheese or pepperoni calzones and freeze for lunches.

  50. Omelets. Add cheese, meat and chopped vegetables of your choice. May not work for your kids school lunches but great for kids lunches at home.

  51. Shredded meat. Use left over pork or beef roast. Shred and put on top of a tortilla. Add cheese and other taco fixings for your child to put together at school. Or shred and mix with barbecue sauce. Eat with a hard roll.

  52. Muffins. Pizza muffins or corn dog muffins are great for a change in kids school lunches.

  53. Simple Goulash soup. Add cooked noodles and cooked ground beef to tomato juice. Season with pepper.

  54. Meatballs. Use store bought frozen meatballs or make a large batch and freeze on a cookie sheet until frozen then place in storage bag. With leftover spaghetti sauce or tomato sauce make a meatball sandwich with French bread or eat with cooked noodles. For a child's school lunch you can put meatballs in a rubbermaid container and sauce in a separate container. Give them a toothpick or fork and they can dip their meatball. Or make a meatball soup.

  55. Ravioli. Buy store bought cheese or meat ravioli. Add to chicken soup, toss with spaghetti sauce or plain yogurt sauce. Many kids like to eat theirs plain.

  56. Mini size hamburgers, chicken legs, or chicken wings are also a kids favorite and can be used for kids lunches.

  57. Salads. Make a meal out of a salad. Cobb salad or pasta salad work great in their lunchbox with the dressing in a small container on the side.
  58. salad in the lunch box

  59. Snack Ball Ideas

  60. Spring rolls- A simple wrap kids love because they can see through it!

  61. Granola and yogurt- Short on time or ideas? Add a side of granola with a package of yogurt. Include blueberries or raspberries as well if you have some on hand.

  62. Hot dog muffins- Using a simple corn muffin recipe, add in small chopped hot dogs or one inch hot dog in the middle of each muffin before baking.

  63. Homemade Lunchables- All you need are mini cookie cutters and a plastic container to create your own lunchables.

  64. Deviled Eggs-Press the two halves together and wrap up for less mess.

Some of our Favorite Products for Kids lunches

Something I've found that has made a difference for lunchtime, is a roomy, reusable lunch box set and fun kid size containers.

lunch containerseasy lunchboxes

Kids Lunch Containers
thermos with fruit salad thermos with yogurt
Thermos for Kids

Kids Lunches - Packing Vegetables

Don't forget to provide vegetables in small containers to go in your kids lunch box. Talk with your kids and add what vegetables they would like to your "lunch list."
  • Mini green salads
  • Carrots-cut in coins, sticks or diced
  • Corn in a small container
  • Green beans
  • Steamed broccoli or raw
  • Steamed cauliflower or raw
  • Peas in a small container
  • Bell pepper strips
  • Cucumbers cut in coins or sticks
lunch box
Make sure to include vegetables in their sandwiches as well as on the side in their lunch boxes. Get them involved in deciding which ones to include but try to get them to add at least one and work on adding more as they get use to it.

Kid Lunches Ideas and Recipes

Chicken Lo Mein

chicken lo mein Serve for dinner and include leftovers in your lunch box.
  • 8 ounces uncooked linguine noodles
  • chicken breast halves, cubed
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1 (16-ounce) bag frozen stir fry vegetables
Cook noodles. While noodles are cooking, cook chicken pieces in a frying pan. Add soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic and chicken broth. Stir in frozen vegetables and cook covered on medium. When chicken is cooked through and vegetables are tender mix drained noodles into chicken mixture. Serve immediately.

Tortilla Wraps

  • Flour tortilla
  • Deli ham, turkey or tuna salad
  • Sliced cheese
  • Vegetables your kids like such as shredded lettuce, shredded carrots,tomato slices
Place deli meat on top of tortilla and add vegetables. Roll up and cut in half. Wrap in plastic wrap or in a plastic container. If desired included mayo or miracle whip on the side.
tuna wrap
More Wrap Recipes

Biscuit Sticks

Add chopped ham or other deli meat and shredded cheese to homemade biscuit dough. Flatten onto cookie sheet and cut into strips.
  • 2 Cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons Sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 Cup milk
  • 3 teaspoons Baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Cream of tartar
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1/2 cup Chopped ham
  • 1/2 Cup shredded cheese
In mixer blend flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and cream of tartar.Add shortening and blend. Stir in milk until dough forms a ball. Stir in ham and cheese. Roll or pat dough into a rectangle. Cut into rectangle sticks and bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes or until golden.
cheese ham biscuit sticks

Meatball Soup

A thermos works great for bringing soup in a lunch box. Before placing soup in thermos pour boiling water in thermos and let it sit for 10minutes. Pour water out and add soup. meatball soup
  • 6 oz. ground turkey
  • large beaten egg
  • 3 tablespoons bread crumbs
  • parsley
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 6 Cups chicken broth
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1 Cup pasta bowties
Combine turkey, egg, bread crumbs and parsley and form into meatballs.In saucepan cook broth and add carrots. Bring to a boil and add pasta cook 5 minutes. Lower heat and add meatballs. Simmer until cooked through.
**Try this Italian meatball soup for a tomato based soup instead. Or check out more soup recipes.

Ham Salad

  • 1 slice baked ham, diced or chopped*
  • 1/4 Cup celery, diced
  • 1/4-1/2 cup mayo
Blend all together and serve with toasted bread or wheat crackers.
*You can replace with canned ham.

Beans and Franks

  • 1 Can baked beans
  • 1 pkg turkey hot dogs, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon mustard
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, optional
Stir all together and warm up. Place kids portion size in warmed thermos for lunchtime.
beans and hot dogs

Italian Chicken Strips or Drumsticks

seasoned chicken drumsticks Ingredients:
  • 1 lb. chicken breasts, cut in strips or chicken drumsticks
  • 1/2 cup Italian dressing
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon lime juice
Add ingredients together in a ziploc baggie. Marinate for 1 hour. Bake or grill. Add to lunch box in the morning.

Picnic Taco Packets

by Lori (Utah)
For each person have:
  • 1 bag Doritos or Fritos chips
  • taco meat browned, drained, seasoned
  • shredded lettuce
  • grated cheese
  • ketchup or taco sauce packets (like from the deli or convenience store)
Open the bag of chips. Toss in a scoop of meat, handful of lettuce and grated cheese. Top with ketchup or hot sauce. Instant taco salad picnic! YUM
taco in a bag

Rice Balls

rice ball
We like to place a piece of teriyaki chicken inside the rice ball. ~Editor

My kids won't eat cold rice, but they will eat rice balls in their lunch. A friend who is Korean and Japanese makes them for her children, and my children wanted to try them.

Use short-grain rice cooked so it is sticky (Uncle Ben's will not do this!). You might have to experiment with your rice-cooking a few times. It doesn't have to be Japanese rice. Dip your hands in a bowl of salted water, then grab some rice and shape into a ball.

You can put a filling in the middle or not. This works the same way food on a stick works. Kids like to eat it! My kids like them very small, with other little foods.

Pizza Scrolls

Make a twist literally on a pizza kids can take in their lunch. Create these with bread dough. Roll dough out into a rectangle. Spread with pizza toppings. Roll up jelly roll style and slice. Add to a greased 13x9 pan and let rise 15 minutes. Bake at 350 degrees until golden brown. See more pizza theme recipes.
pizza scrolls

Spring Rolls

Learn how to make spring rolls
rainbow colored spring rolls

More Lunch Help

Sandwich and Wrap Recipes
sandwich ideas

Also visit our List of Healthy Snacks for more ideas.

6 or fewer ingredients for main dish recipes for lunch ideas.

See our Healthy Snack Ideas for more ideas.
healthy snacks

Would you like more help with kids school lunches? Visit our school lunch page for help with getting your kids involved in packing their lunches, providing variety, what to pack for school lunch and more help with kids lunches and healthy lunch ideas.

What is your kids favorite lunch?

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Grilled cheese sandwich 
INGREDIENTS 1 cup mozzarella cheese grated 1 onion chopped 1 tbsp coriander leaves chopped 2 green chilies chopped 1 two Italian Pizza seasoning …

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Related Easy Kids Meals and Ideas:
~Easy Kids Meals, ~Easy Meal Ideas, ~Breakfast, ~Breakfast 6 or fewer, ~Side Dishes, ~Snacks, ~Main Dishes, ~Desserts, ~No Bake Recipes, ~Kids Lunches, ~Portion Sizes, ~Microwave Meals, ~Hidden Vegetable Recipes, ~Healthy Kids Meals, ~Picky Eater Tips, ~Family Dinner, ~How to menu plan, ~Diabetic, ~Toddler Ideas, ~Low Calorie, ~Gluten Free, ~Vegetarian, ~Low Carb

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