School Lunch Ideas

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We asked for school lunch ideas and you guys definitely brought ‘em!! Check out all these great (and creative) ideas to get your kiddos a lunch they’ll eat up!

Here are a few slow cooker recipes you can also use in your next brown bag.

Pizza Pasta Casserole
Corn Mac and Cheese
Chicken and Dumplings
Whole Chicken
Thankful Fiesta Soup

If you can put it between bread, we put it in a tortilla! A fun and easy way for them to eat!
Debbie M.

My kids fight over who gets the leftover pasta in their lunch box. Even cold, they like it just as well. They also love a thermos with soup or OATMEAL!
Peggy L.

Something we’ve done for years is put peanut butter in an ice cream cone. My daughter will only eat those veggies if she can dip them. It’s been a big hit at school!
Julie M.

My 8 year old loves chicken salad in flatbread – I usually use the Italian Herb flavored :)
Anderson N.

My son like apple rice cakes with peanut butter on top.
Jennine H.

Boil cheese tortellini with food coloring. Send cold with spaghetti sauce for dipping.
Michelle S.

 

Sandwich kabobs. It’s been awhile since I was in school, but my mother loved to pack stuff on a stick for us.
Bobbi B.

Turkey tortilla pinwheels, yogurt covered craisens, a mix of those crackers and pretzels that look like bunny shapes. Frozen gogurt!
Jessica J.

Cold chicken pasta salad.
Mary G.

We love slices of turkey rolled up with cream cheese instead of sandwiches every day, or lettuce wraps (portable salad!). We also love our thermos, so we can pack anything leftover from dinner.. Spaghetti, chicken strips, macaroni, etc!
Mandy K.

My kiddos love sandwich wraps, crunchy carrots with ranch dip packets, and for dessert – indoor smores! We put a little marshmallow cream and milk chocolate frosting between graham crackers. LoL – The grand finale.
Joy P.

Spread peanut butter, then granola, then drizzle honey on a tortilla, then roll it up! My daughter loves it!
Laura S.

Taco salad, enchilada’s, homemade soups, oatmeal with nuts and fruit packed to add in, ham and cheese rolls with pickles on the side, stews, chicken w/ mashed potatoes, salads, pita chips with hummus, lasagna, veggie pizza
Katie M.

We are doing homemade yogurt (for breakfast). Homemade hot pockets, thermos full of soup, tacos, salads, sandwiches. Trying hard to stay away from anything packaged.
Devia J.

Quesadillas, English muffin pizzas, ham and grated cheese in pita pockets.
Frances W.

My daughter likes pizza lunchables, and my son likes the sandwiches, but I don’t like the prices. I buy all the individual components myself and package it up so they can make their own. She gets a pizza crust in Saran wrap, a Ziploc of shredded cheese, and a container of pizza sauce. He gets a Ziploc with a sub roll and sliced cheese, a container of lunch meat, a container of veggies, and a container with mustard.
Emilie S.

Instead of sandwiches, try honey wheat or crescent rolls, thick sliced lunch meat, and cheese sticks. Also, sliced pickles (sweet or dill) are a hit at my house.
Brandy S.

We eat leftovers because the kids are home schooled LOL! If there are no dinner left overs we have bento style lunch, fruits, veggies, meats cheeses etc :)
Rachel G.

I bought the mustache sandwich cutter at Tilly’s of all places while back to school shopping! I have a collection of sandwich cutters..I make my girls “special lunches” for holidays for example st Pattys day everything is green and the sandwich is in the 4leaf clover shape. My girls love it!
Leslie G.

Mini bagels with Nutela or peanut butter.
Bonnie O.

Pb&j’s, fruit, also frozen gogurts and frozen strawberry applesauce. By Lunch time it’s thawed & applesauce is a slushy. Also keeps lunch cold. I see others posted food such as enchiladas, Mac & cheese, how do you keep it warm? Or they eat cold?
Elvia L.

We have the 12 oz (small) Thermos containers, and I generally heat up last night’s dinner and put that in (chicken alfredo this morning) or put Ramen noodles and hot water in there. Pair it with a cheese sandwich, some fruit, and a treat…and you’re all set. And, your kids get a “hot” lunch, which is what I like.
Terri P.

In the cake-decorating isle they have food safe markers. Before we started homeschooling the days my kiddos would take sandwiches I would use a cookie cutter and cut their sandwiches and then use the food safe markers and decorate them. They loved them!
Candi C.

My grade schoolers love the chocolate chip rice cakes w/ peanut butter spread on it and slices of banana to top it off with roasted turkey or chicken breast, colby jack cheese, baby spinach leaves topped with ranch on a bagel. bottled water with their favorite drink stick for flavor
Kathy J.

My kids love sweet Lebanon bologna and cream cheese roll ups, hollowed out cucumbers with chicken salad, and seafood salad with salad shrimp, imitation crab, mayo and green onion.
Noel L.

Homemade pancakes (blueberry, apple cinnamon, banana sprinkled with a little powdered sugar instead of syrup) cheese quesadillas, pizza quesadillas, homemade chicken nuggets (cut a slit in each nugget and fill with their favorite dipping sauce for less mess), salad, crackers and cheese (cut into fun shapes…each lunch must contain at least one serving from each food group and I let the kids each choose a fruit and veggie for the week…with 4 kids we end up with a good variety and they are more willing to try/eat them.
Aubrey B.

I do lunch duty at my school and the kids, even in sixth grade, seem to like a kabob kind of thing. Mostly the ones I see are cheese and fruit kabobs and then they have crackers on the side. A lot of moms also pack them with turkey sausage bites and cheese with fruit and fruit dip on the side. Also, a lot of the kids have more healthy items, so another very popular item is veggie sticks with dip cups. Although my kids are quite a bit older and make their own decisions for food, wraps with peanut butter and bananas or turkey and cheese are still popular!!
Monica R.

They have a small thermos at the Dollar Tree. It is blue and the lid pops off and holds a spoon. The thermos is very small so it fits perfectly even in small lunch boxes. My kids have been taking ravioli, spaghetti, and today we even did ramen noodles in it. My kids LOVE those noodles, so why not!!! And for a buck you can’t beat it!
Shawna S.

We love notes…no matter what food you pack – it always tastes better with a smiley or heart from mom.
Diane M.

My son loves Mac-n-cheese, so I crock a big batch and freeze in single serve cups. 2-3 mins in the microwave in the AM & dump in a thermos. Also do homemade ABCs this way.
Lana H.

The frozen Yakisoba sold at Costco is a hit with my kids. I just warm it up and put it in a thermos. They also like pot-stickers prepared and packaged the same way.
Gretchen P.

I have three, but my daughter loves apple slices on cinnamon raison bread spread with sunflower butter (pb at home but we have a nut free zone at school) so sunflower butter it is, it is not a nut its a seed! same goes with bananas, pb and tortilla roll up to change it up I drizzle a little honey and add granola in it too. She is my non picky eater so will also do strawberry cream cheese spread on anything ( I use crackers, bagles, sandwich thins, bread, wraps , etc) to change up the presentation. fruit kabobs on popcicle sticks, so nothing pointy at the lunch table, you can also put cut up fruit carefully on pretzel sticks. chips with salsa in a small reusable container, gogurts in the freezer so softer and still cold by lunch time, i even use hotdog and hamburger buns for sandwhices…just wrap in tinfoil if needing more support than a sandwich bag…here’s another my son loves this: heat up precooked chicken (can find already packaged at store), put on hamburger bun sprinkle with cheddar cheese and smear salsa on the top…can be eaten warm or cold…santa fe chicken sandwich at school!
Tracy R.

Mine love wrapping things in a tortilla. Turkey, cream cheese, PB&J, ham and spinach with ranch. We also got containers with little compartments to make our own lunchables. Another fave is a “snack” lunch – a little of this, a little of that, (cheese cubes, crackers, lunch meat pieces, fruit pieces, baby carrots, etc) with a small container of ranch to dip it all in. We got each one a small thermos for taking hot stuff and it works great.
Maggie F.

I save the salad dressing packs from when I order salads out and pack them with baby carrots and celery sticks…kids love it! Also, you can pack a small container with a cpl tablespoons of peanut butter and send a banana for them to eat it on.
Melody M.

The small sized Thermos is a must have! It’s great to keep dinner left-overs warm for lunch the next day. Then the kids get a great hot meal rather than having to settle for something small and boring. But my kids love turkey roll-ups with ranch dressing, lettuce and shredded cheese. My mom would have never attempted to get me to eat something like that – but I wish she had! They are great!
Joanna M.

Mine are loving meatballs right now. They eat them cold with fruit and veggies and something treatish.
Jami P.

What about mini quiches (from muffin tins), homemade granola bars (dip the bottoms in melted chocolate), already popped popcorn seasoned by them, skewers of ham/cheese/grilled chicken/fruits/veggies, ants on a log (celery with PB& Raisins), waffle sandwiches. My mom almost always snuck a thermos of soup in there during the winter months- homemade chili, cream of veggie soup, ham and navy bean soup, tomato soup that can be dressed up with cream/srircha/cheese etc. Take the veggies and create something with it and include ranch/veggie/fruit dip- by that I mean make a Mr. Potato head out of an orange or Broccoli floret and using toothpicks add carrots or raisins for eyes, celery for legs/arms etc. Apple and PB mouths. I will tell you one of the top things teachers hate are Fruit Roll-ups, because the kids can get so nasty and sticky from peeling them off the paper in chunks- of course I always loved those. I once made Keugel in muffin tins and those could be a good thing to send with them. Homemade Spring Rolls/Egg Rolls can be a good way to get veggies and lean proteins in as well.
Shay W.

My daughter isn’t old enough for school yet but she loves the goldfish shaped bread, you can get it in wheat, honey wheat, brown sugar and cinnamon raisin, cinnamon raisin is her favorite. Health, Fitness & Motivation For Everyday Life Mandarins, cucumber, carrots, cheese, apples, yogurt.
Elizabeth S.

Cold chicken nuggets cut up, spinach, raisins, sunflower kernals, cheese tortellini, with ranch dressing to put over top
Rosie W.

We do burritos, ravioli, Mac n cheese, chicken nuggets or strips depends on how I made the chicken, salads, cheese/meat/crackers, pancakes & waffles, pasta and veggies.
Shari H.

With all the new styles of sectioned lunch boxes (some are even leakproof) & thermoses, the possibilities are endless!!! If you make it for dinner & your kids will eat it, you can pack it for their lunch. I have yet to come across something that we are unable to pack. My kids have awesome lunches & never complain of being hungry when I pick them up now!!
Shelly T.

I make “bag animals” out of food sometimes. Like, if I send them grapes in a plastic bag, I use little rubber bands to form a puppy or caterpillar (kinda like balloon animals” then use googly eyes and pon pons for antennas. just something fun.
Jennifer S.

My whole family loves “no bake energy bites” and they’re timbit sized so they are perfect for lunches! :)
Jenny Smulders

My daughter loves – A Tortilla – Spread Peanut Butter on – Put a Banana in the Middle – And wrap it up and cut it in two!!!
Beth L.

I always dressed up my kids PBJ sandwiches by using different cookie cutters and placing them in a sandwich box. when they opened it up they would be surprised at the hearts or stars, or what ever you have.
Trish H.

Take left over spaghetti and make grilled cheese and spaghetti sandwich with butter and garlic salt on bread to make it taste like garlic toast.
Latricia B.

My daughter is a vegetarian so it can be hard… But i buy a salad compartment Tupperware and pack lettuce, feta, olives, cucumber, chick peas and a little oil and vinegar. I also do tortilla wraps with flavored cream cheese, cheese slices, lettuce and black olives. I also love the “everything” lunch with cheese, fresh fruit, soybeans, ect to make a lunch full of good snacks!
Barbie B.

Loving all these ideas! Will help me when I’m packing my daughter’s lunch. She is in 3rd grade now & doesn’t pack everyday. She marks off on the school lunch menu the days she wants to pack. We do pasta salad, triscuit w/ cheese & pepperoni, PB&J or PB&banana, veggie subs, chicken sandwiches or cold pizza. And I always toss a frozen water bottle & juice pouch in there She doesn’t like lunch meat, so we’ve had to come up with ideas. After reading this, I’m going to have to invest in a thermos for her too :)
Crystal B.

Nutella and marshmallow fluff- not the healthiest but my daughter doesn’t like the traditional PB & J
Liza B.

A small container of peanut butter plus sliced apples or celery sticks (or pretzel sticks) & goldfish crackers. Dip apple/celery/pretzels into PB & “fish” for goldfish. Add a side of yogurt or some cheese & you have a yummy, well-rounded & fun meal.
Carolyn C.

Yes the frozen water bottle doubles as an ice pack and drink and don’t have to worry about getting your ice pack back.
Missy S.

Make cake in a bread loaf pan, leaving out a couple tablespoons of liquid. Cool and slice, then put frosting between slices. The cake/frosting ‘sandwich’ is much neater to pack and eat.
Angela T.

I freeze gogurt yogurt so it can double as a small ice pack for her fruit. My mom used cookie cutters for my sandwiches because I hated the crust. So I do that with my daughter. I found one that makes 4 puzzle pieces.
Emily L.

I make my kids meatballs with sauce and put it in their thermos. They love it and it sure beats a sandwich!
Marybeth B.

My son loves easy mac with either sautéed sliced hotdogs or diced ham stirred in. I put it in his thermos and its still hot at lunchtime. Its not very healthy but once in awhile doesn’t hurt!
Chalice P.

I haven’t packed a school lunch in years, (our kids are home-schooled) but what I used to like in high school was a sandwich a friend of mine taught me to make, Sliced Apples and Cheese on Artisan Bread. Spread a thin layer of mayo on the slices of bread, slice Red Delicious apples into rounds, like a tomato, with the seedy bits removed, and layer with Fontina or Muenster cheese. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap until lunchtime.
Paul M.

Both of mine are not sandwich everyday lovers either, so we do some of these alternatives: turkey pepperonis and sliced or string cheese, lunch meat rolls with cheese, hotdogs or mini beef sausages, yogurt, applesauce, fruit, veggies with ranch and nutella with marshmallow cream, and pb and honey, and pimento cheese with crackers.
Katie C.

My kids can’t bring PB (and my son is allergic anyway), but they love Sunbutter, so I do all of the above, but with Sunbutter. Except the banana roll-up with the tortilla. I need to try that one.
Erin W.

We make chicken quesadillas the night before and the kids eat them cold the next day.
Sandi B.

My kids aren’t sandwich lover so…we do lots of stuff in a thermos!! Thermos tip. Put boiling water in your thermos first. Let sit for 3-5 minutes. Pour out the water and put in your lunch item (ex.mac n cheese). This helps keep things much hotter!!
Kristin A.

My kids eat sandwiches made on honey wheat dinner rolls. They make for soft mini sandwiches. My youngest loves bacon and dill pickle sandwiches – certainly not common, but it’s easy to make. We also do pudding packs and pretzel sticks.

Kelli S.

Comments Add Comment
  1. MICHELLE T4
    #1 on September 1st, 2012 at 9:16 am

    MY 5TH GRADER DOESN’T LIKE CAFETERIA FOOD, SO EVERYDAY I MAKE HER LUNCH.
    SHE EATS ALMOST ANYTHING….WE DO A VARIETY OF FOODS….BUT ONE OF OUR FAVS IS
    “SALAD”, I PUT IT IN A LOW PROFILE CONTAINER, POUR THE DRESSING IN A TINY CONTAINER
    I BOUGHT AT TUPPERWARE, & PUT THAT IN THE SALAD ONE, POP THE LID ON & VIOLA A HEALTH
    LUNCH!!

  2. Sharon
    #2 on September 4th, 2012 at 6:31 pm

    I make a fresh spinach salad with mandarin oranges, dried cranberries, sugared pecans, and goat cheese chunks… with a side of dressing made about half and half.. of sunny delight orange drink and raspberry chiloptle bar beque sauce… its so good.. you eat it down fast. You can add shredded chicken or thin slices of steak or ham , if you want extra protein.

  3. KoiandGinger
    #3 on January 15th, 2013 at 9:07 am

    Sliced apples with a touch of sugar, cinnamon, and lemon juice; served with cinnamon cream cheese wedges…an absolute treat for my snack-happy 7yr old daughter.

  4. Victoria
    #4 on March 19th, 2013 at 4:23 pm

    My kids also take there lunch to school and it stays a whole lot fresher in Tupperware…they like to take apples and peanut butter to dip them in… If anyone needs to buy Tupperware let me know I sell it:)

  5. Victoria
    #5 on March 19th, 2013 at 4:25 pm

    Another my 7 yr old likes is the sun dried tomato wheat thins with cream cheese

  6. Melissa
    #6 on July 6th, 2013 at 1:14 am

    I have made lunch for my 3 children everyday from pre-k-8th grade. They never ate school lunches. Never! Plus, they are gross. Back in the day you had a full kitchen staff making the lunches for the students( I’m only 42 people). Now everything is pre-packaged. My kids love whatever I put in their lunch: turkey sand. pizza toast, sliced cucumbers, chips and salsa, gold fish, chicken salad, mac and cheese, salad with dressing, pickles, wraps and if we had something they really liked for dinner (and they wanted it) I put in a thermos. I now have an 7th grader and two 9th graders(high school) I’m sure this fall it will be no different. Now, my 9th graders wouldn’t be caring a lunch box but we will work that out. lol

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