20 Healthy School Lunch Ideas for Kids
These 20 Healthy School Lunch Box Ideas for Kids are filled with real-life packed lunches that my kids loved! Simple and easy-to-make lunches that are flavorful, fun and delicious while also being packed with nutrients! I also added allergy-friendly suggestions for each lunch box idea. Great for daycare, preschool or elementary school-aged kids!
School Lunch Box Ideas for Kids
These are the real-life lunches that I have packed my daughters.
And for the most part, they have eaten them right up🙌!
I refuse to spend a ton of time making school lunches so all of these lunches were packed in roughly 5-10 minutes⏲, all while I was making dinner. I usually pack school lunches at night while I’m making dinner because I just can’t get my sh*t together enough in the mornings.
TIP: To make simple, easy and fast school lunches I utilized leftovers and simple ingredients I can pull out of my fridge – no fancy labor-intensive recipes involved.
So if you see nachos in one of the lunches, we probably had taco night for dinner and I used the leftovers for a fun nacho lunch. Muffins – I had those leftovers from the weekend when I did have some time to make some fresh muffins, but you could also use store-bought. Same with pasta and pizza – all leftovers.
All the extra cute Pinterest-worthy items – animal or eyeball picks, sandwiches and fruit cut into shapes and fun cut fruits and veggies are ALL OPTIONAL. Please 🙏 do not feel like you have to go the extra mile here; they are just kids’ lunches, after all. I have a slight bento box accessory shopping problem🙈, so I add the extras in. But you will still be a fantastic parent and lunch-maker if you skip them altogether.
Reasons to Love these packed lunch ideas for kids
- full of real, wholesome foods that your kids will love
- can be made allergy-friendly – Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free or Nut-Free (see notes for each recipe)
- no fancy recipes – I used leftovers or simple ingredients to make these lunches
- great for daycare, preschool or elementary-aged kids
- can be packed in any bento box style lunch box or any containers you prefer (read about my favorite bento boxes)
- health versions of school lunch food – pizza, nachos, and burritos – so your kid doesn’t feel left out
- balanced lunches with a protein, fruit, veggie, and something fun
- bonus – fun or cute item to surprise your child
These tools will make packing school lunches a little easier. For more of my favorite kitchen tools make sure to check out my shop.
- Planetbox Bento Box
- Mini Dip Containers
- Fruit and Veggie Cutters
- Sandwich Shape Cutters
- Silicone Muffin Liners
School Lunch Tips
- Find a good time for you to pack school lunches – this may be the night before or the morning of. Find a time and stick to it.
- Get your kids involved – have them pick a few fruits or veggies they want to eat in their lunches for the week, help chop the veggies, make the sandwich, or even have them pick out the fun dip containers or food picks used.
- Utilize leftovers – make sure you take advantage of using any leftovers that will work as a cold lunch – cooked chicken, pizza, pasta, sauces, etc.
- Plan it out – using this handy printable, you can plan your kids’ lunches for the week.
Chicken “Fried” Rice
Chicken, rice, corn and carrots sautéed in a drizzle of sesame oil and coconut aminos. Edamame, peaches, broccoli and ranch, raspberries with apples cut out in the shape of hearts, and a few dark chocolate-covered raisins.
Allergy-Friendly – GF and NF. Use DF ranch and treat to make DF.
DIY PB&J with Crackers
Crackers are served with a container of peanut butter (or almond butter) and another container filled with jam as well as carrots, olives, golden kiwi, mini grapes, cut strawberries and raspberries and mini dark chocolate chips. Eye picks can be found here.
Allergy-Friendly – GF – use gf crackers, DF – use df chocolate chips, NT – use sunbutter instead of peanut butter
Gluten-Free Pumpkin + Cream Cheese Sandwich
Pumpkin pancake sandwich with cream cheese and raspberry jam, cut yellow peppers, mini grapes, Chobani yogurt tube and a piece of dark chocolate. The pancakes were leftovers from a weekend breakfast, the pancakes were made from a gluten-free pumpkin pancake mix from Trader Joe’s, but any homemade, mix or frozen pancakes would work in this lunch box.
Allergy-Friendly – GF and NF. Use a DF brand of yogurt tube (like Kite Hill) to make DF.
Turkey + Cheddar + Salami on a Stick, cut kiwi, red pepper, and carrot sticks with a side of ranch, strawberries, blueberries, and dye-free candy. Sandwich sticks can be found here and ranch container -here (similar).
Allergy-Friendly – GF and NF. To make DF use DF ranch and cheese.
Choose Your Own Adventure
Applesauce with cinnamon, salami with dinosaur pick, sliced and cubed cheese, turkey roll-ups, almond crackers, orange pepper slices, kiwi slices, mini grapes and chocolate raisins.
Allergy-Friendly – NF and GF. To make DF use DF treats and cheese.
It’s Friday and I’m Over School Lunches
Cream cheese with honey star sandwich, lentil puffs, cut grapes, cut carrots and dye-free candy.
Allergy-Friendly – NF and DF. For GF use GF bread.
Green Monster School Lunch
Pesto gluten-free pasta with parmesan, cut kiwi, grapes and avocado salad, roasted seaweed, cut cucumbers, and dye-free candy.
Allergy-Friendly – GF, NF and DF. If NF, make sure your pesto is nut-free.
Bean and cheese burrito with guacamole (I wrapped the burrito in the foil before packing the lunch up), corn, sliced carrots, watermelon balls, and dye-free candy. I used a frozen burrito for this lunch, but any homemade or frozen variety you prefer would work.
Allergy-Friendly – NF. To make GF and DF you can use DF cheese and a GF tortilla.
Hidden Veggie for #thewin
Beet applesauce, cut tomatoes, sliced string cheese, snapeas, cut mild Italian sausage with outer-space picks, mini container of mustard, and a dye-free gummy.
Allergy-Friendly – NF and GF. To make DF, use DF cheese or omit.
Gluten-Free Pesto Pasta with Chicken + Corn
Gluten-Free pesto pasta with chicken and corn, Pure Organics Apple Strip, cut cucumbers, blackberries and walnuts.
Allergy-Friendly – GF and DF. For NF, omit the walnuts and make sure you use pesto that is nut-free.
DIY Cheese & Crackers
Laughing cow with two types of crackers in silicon muffin liners, chopped broccoli, chopped red and green pluots, snapeas, and a chocolate pretzel.
Allergy-Friendly – NF. To make GF, use GF crackers and treat. To make DF, use DF cheese and treat.
Healthier DIY Nachos
DIY Nacho Kit – organic corn chips, lettuce, shredded cheese, taco turkey and guacamole all in silicon cups. Also in the bento is grapes with mandarin orange sections and allergy-friendly chocolate chips.
Allergy-Friendly – GF and NF. To make DF, use DF cheese,
Tortellini + Chicken Dippers
Cheese tortellini and chicken dunkers with pesto dip, cut cantaloupe, cut cucumbers, popcorn and chocolate pretzel.
Allergy-Friendly – NF and DF. To make GF, use GF tortellini and treat.
Happy Tummy School Lunch
Kefir pouch, snap peas and carrots with ranch (similar container here), sliced apples, crackers with cheese and salami, and dye-free candy.
Allergy-Friendly – NF. To make DF, use a dairy-free kefir pouch or replace it with an apple pouch and use DF cheese. To make GF, use GF cheese and ranch.
Breakfast for Lunch
Gluten-Free cinnamon-sugar pancake muffin, strawberries and raspberries, yogurt and granola, kiwi and avocado, sliced chicken sausage and daily vitamins. I used this pancake mix but turned them into muffins by following the recipe on the back of the bag.
Allergy-Friendly – GF. To make DF, use a DF yogurt. To make NF, use NF granola and make sure the pancake muffin mix is NF.
A Pizza the Puzzle
Leftover pizza cut into puzzle pieces, carrots, pepper slices, and snap peas with ranch in a mini container, strawberries and raspberries, Chobani yogurt tube, and dark chocolate raisins.
Allergy-Friendly – NF. To make DF, use DF cheese, ranch, and yogurt tube. To make GF, use GF pizza.
Almost Out of Groceries Lunch
Bean and cheese quesadilla with smashed avocado, sliced apples, cut kiwis, sliced carrots and chocolate raisins.
Allergy-Friendly – NF. To make GF, use GF or corn tortillas. To make DF, use DF cheese and pack a DF treat.
Greek Lunch Spread
Greek Meatballs with feta dipping sauce, pistachios and roasted chickpeas, sliced olives, cucumber, feta and tomato salad, cut watermelon, and dark chocolate. I used pre-made organic greek flavored meatballs that were gluten-free.
Allergy-Friendly – GF and NF. To make DF, use DF dip, omit the feta in the salad and pack a DF treat.
Is it Friday yet.. ??
Leftover cheeseburger and pickles, sliced mini peppers, raspberries and blueberries, cucumbers with ranch in a mini container (similar), and a piece of dark chocolate.
Allergy-Friendly – NF. To make Gf, use a gluten-free bun. To make DF, omit the cheese and use DF ranch.
Gluten-Free Pizza Roll-Ups
Gluten-Free pizza roll-ups with marinara dipping sauce, carrots with ranch dip, grapes, berries, and chocolate-covered gummies.
Allergy-Friendly – GF and NF. To make DF, use DF cheese, ranch and treat.
More School Lunch Inspiration
- 9 Best Kids Bento Boxes for School (expert review)
- 10 Allergy-Friendly School Lunch Box Ideas for Kids
- 10 Easy + Healthy School Lunch Ideas
- 5 School Lunch Box Packing Tips (FREE Printables!)
- 68 Preschool and Kindergarten School Lunch Ideas
- Little Bento: 32 Irresistible Bento Box Lunches for Kids
Get the recipe: 20 Healthy School Lunch Ideas for Kids
- 2 tbsp peanut or almond butter
- 2 tbsp jam
- 6-10 crackers
- 2-4 tbsp chopped strawberries and raspberries
- 6-8 baby carrots
- 4 black olives
- 1 kiwi peeled and quartered
- small bunch grapes can cut lengthwise
- Place the peanut butter and jam into small containers with lids. Add to one section of container with the crackers.
- Add in the grapes, kiwi, olives, carrots, strawberries and raspberries to other sections in your lunch box or seperate contatiners.