It’s time for Back to School! Which means back to packing lunches for your kids! If you’re like me, in September your kids lunches look Pinterest worthy and you’re full of ideas. By the time the spring rolls around they barely resemble a lunch leaving you searching for easy kids lunch ideas!
I have two girls to pack for. One is 2 years old and an adventurous eater but needs everything cut into proper sizes. The other is 7 years old and not so adventurous. In addition both schools are nut free and they cannot warm food up. So coming up with easy lunch ideas that will make both of them happy can feel impossible. The struggle is real!
The solution: I created this list of 20 easy kids lunch ideas that I can pull together quickly and make each of my kiddos happy. And for more inspiration check out my lunch building handout here!
Kids Lunch Ideas: The Basics
First, let’s talk about the basics. What to include in each lunch box so our kids stay fueled throughout the day. If they’re hungry or dehydrated very little learning is going to happen and they’re going to be a bear for their teachers. (Shout out to all the teachers out there! You are AMAZING humans!)
Second, just like I talk about a balanced plate for adults, the same goes for kids just in smaller portions! The main components are: Protein, Fat, Carbohydrates, Color and Hydration! Check out my list here for great options under each category! Keeping in mind your kids favorites and having a variety of options on hand. One day bananas are the greatest food on the planet, the next day bananas are gross. Kids are fun like that!
Lastly, when your kids are old enough, let them pack their own lunches. Keep the list next to your fridge or panty and have them pick from each category. As a result you will feel good knowing its balanced and full of mostly healthy foods and they will been happy to have food freedom! And in addition to this you will free up some time in your morning routine! Win, win!
20 Kids Lunch Ideas
- Turkey and cheese roll up, cubed melon, yogurt, pretzels
- Hummus, pita bread, grape tomatoes, sliced cucumbers, watermelon wedge
- Cheese and Chicken (or bean) quesadilla, guacamole, salsa, tortilla chips, clementine
- Kebobs (chunks of meat, cheese, veggies skewered on tooth picks), sliced oranges, whole wheat crackers
- Hard boiled eggs, carrots and celery with ranch, pretzels and apple sauce pouch
- Sun butter (peanut or almond if your school allows) and Jelly on whole wheat bread, string cheese, peach cup
- Whole wheat crackers, cheese cubes, grapes, rolled turkey pepperoni
- Hummus wrap with sliced peppers, granola bar, raspberries
- Pita with chicken salad and grated carrots, blueberries, popcorn
- Breakfast sandwich- egg, cheese, spinach on an English Muffin, fruit salad, yogurt
- Pizza- on a bagel or English Muffin, carrot sticks, apple slices
- Whole wheat pasta, meatballs, sauce (leftovers from dinner) shredded cheese, green beans and strawberries
- Chicken stir-fry (leftovers from dinner) chicken, vegetables and rice, edamame, kiwi
- Cheese tortellini, grape tomatoes, salad with cucumbers and ranch, sliced whole grain Italian bread
- Tomato soup in a thermos, ½ grilled cheese, cucumber slices and grapes
- Cream cheese and cucumber roll up, with sliced mango, pita chips
- Mini pancakes or waffles (with syrup for dipping), banana, yogurt, sweet potato hash browns
- Grilled chicken, pasta salad, sliced bell peppers, peach
- Rice, beans, salsa, tortilla chips and strawberries
- BLT sandwich, baby carrots and cucumber with tzatziki dip, clementine
Tools to Make Kids Lunches Fun
Now that you have all the easy kids lunch ideas, how we pack it up is equally important. These are a few items I purchased on Amazon that make this process easy and fun for kids.
First, there are SO MANY different bento style boxes available. While they are cute most importantly they keep all the items from mixing together without using 45 baggies or containers. In other words, less trash, less items to wash!
A second option is using reusable silicon cupcake liners in a standard container. They are great at keeping foods, like grapes, from rolling around or getting squished. I also suggest having some small containers with lids for things like dressings or dips.
Lastly, these cute cookie cutters and animal shaped tooth picks can make fruits and vegetables more fun for the younger kids. They love to open their lunch box and see a giraffe in their strawberries or a heart shaped cucumber. I am willing to take the couple extra minutes, especially if that means my picky eater will try and new food!
I hope that these lists of kids lunch ideas and simple tools make packing your lunch all year long less of a chore! If you have a particularly picky eater, or kid(s) with food allergies and more specific needs let’s chat!
Have more nutrition questions?
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