30 Favorite Kids Lunches

kids lunches in lunch boxes on countertop.


Use this list of kids lunches the next time you’re at a loss for what to pack in the lunchbox or for what to serve at home for the midday meal. There are kids lunches and toddler lunch ideas here so you can save time with these quick-reference concepts to make it all easier.

kids lunches in lunch boxes on countertop.

Kids Lunch

Whether you’re packing lunch for daycare, preschool, or school—or serving lunch at home—these easy kids lunch ideas are here to help. After 11 years of packing kids lunches and almost a decade helping other parents with easy ideas to pack lunches for their kids, I am so happy to share my best tips and ideas here.

This list is meant to inspire you when you run out of ideas, so use these ideas as a starting point and adjust as needed for your kids preferences and the foods you have on hand.

There are ideas that can be served cold, ones that are easy to pack in a thermos (which is great for leftovers), and even ideas that can help you turn a random mix of snack foods into satisfying and nourishing meal.

(You may also like 15 Lunch Ideas for Daycare and 50 Kindergarten Lunch Ideas.)

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kids lunch with blueberry bar, crackers, and snacks.

How to Make Kids Lunch

Here’s a look at what I aim to include in nutritious lunches for kid over the course of a week.

  • Fruit: At least 1 serving of fruit, most of the time. That can include fresh fruit, dried fruit, frozen fruit (thawed or used in a recipe), freeze-dried fruit, and dehydrated fruit.
  • Vegetables: At least 1 serving of veggies, most of the time. This can include vegetables cooked in recipes, thinly sliced raw veggies like cucumber, carrots, and bell peppers, and vegetables in packaged foods from the store.
  • Protein: At least 1 serving of protein, whether it’s in the form of meat or poultry, nuts, legumes, or dairy. Protein helps ensure that the lunch is filling enough to keep the kids full until the next eating opportunity.
  • Complex Carbohydrates: Carbohydrates and whole grains are essential for long lasting energy and proper toddler brain development, so they are a great option to include in a kids lunch. They also tend to be easy to eat, which can be helpful with short lunch periods.
  • Fats: Toddlers need fats to grow properly, and fat can help us stay full at any age, so choose dairy products with fat and don’t shy away from plant-based fats like avocado and nut or seeds.

TIP: Remember that kids rarely eat exactly how charts show that they will, so not every lunch has to have every one of these every time. It’s always okay if it balances out over the course of a whole week. And adding snacks and/or desserts is always a good idea, too!

kids lunch with pasta in a blue lunch box.

Kids Lunch with Pasta

Having a thermos to send hot lunches for school, including pasta, is one of our favorite easy lunch options. Below are our go-to pasta recipes to use for lunch. (This pasta salad is also a n easy option.) We usually add simple sides like fruit, applesauce, yogurt, hard-cooked eggs, or shredded chicken.

Favorite Buttered Noodles

I have all kinds of easy ways to incorporate veggies into pasta dishes for kids, but some days, we just need the classic and comforting option of Buttered Noodles. This is my go-to method for the creamiest, easiest buttered pasta to share with the kids.

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buttered noodles in two bowls with sides
Easy Spinach Pesto

Try this healthy pesto with your favorite pasta or in place of pizza sauce on pizza!

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spinach pesto in jar
Mac and Cheese with Peas (Fav Shortcut Toddler Meal)

With an easy method and a yummy, satisfying result, this quick toddler meal is one of our go-to shortcut kids meals.

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Easy Marinara Sauce with Extra Veggies

Serve this sauce with 1 pound of your family’s favorite pasta for an easy and healthy dinner.

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easy marinara sauce in jar on towel
Cauliflower Mac and Cheese (5-Ingredient)

With a simple cheese sauce—no standing and stirring over the stove here!—a solid dose of veggies, and a super creamy final result, this Cauliflower Mac and Cheese is a fast lunch or dinner option for toddlers. (And the rest of the family, too!)

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cauliflower mac and cheese on teal spoon
Pinwheel sandwiches on plate with sides.

Lunch Ideas for Kids with Tortillas

Wrap up a range of fillings, including turkey, banana and peanut butter or sunflower seed butter, cream cheese, thinly sliced apples and cheddar cheese, tuna salad, chicken salad, and more. Or try one of the ideas using tortillas below. (Choose a gluten-free option for the tortilla, if needed.)

Vegetarian Quesadillas with Beans and Cheese

You can make as few or as many of these easy quesadillas as you like.

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cut up vegetarian quesadillas for kids on plate
Quick Pizza Quesadillas (An Easy Kids Meal)

This meal is perfect for when you’re short on time or when you want to make pizza with less fuss. Add a simple side of cut up fruit, applesauce, or a salad kit and call it good.

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Easy Pinwheel Sandwiches

Change up the usual sandwich lunch for these easy and fun pinwheel sandwiches. With easy options for the filling to please a variety of eaters, this is a great kids lunch for home or at school. (And yummy for adults, too!)

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Pinwheel sandwiches in lunch box and on plate with sides.
Favorite Lunch Wraps

Mix up the offerings for lunch with these easy lunch wraps. They’re each fast to make, use straight forward ingredients that are easy to find, and can be made in minutes.

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turkey wrap with apples on blue plate
Easy Hummus Wrap (to Share with the Kids)

Quickly combine a few simple ingredients to make a really yummy lunch wrap. This recipe makes one wrap, so increase the serving size as necessary.

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hummus wraps on white plates with apple slices
uncrustables in pink lunchbox.

Lunch Ideas for Kids with Sandwiches

While not all little kids can handle the mixed texture of a traditional sandwich quite yet, you can still serve the elements in a way that they can enjoy—whether by cutting the sandwich into cubes, sticks, or serving the components side-by-side. Add easy sides like blueberries, diced pineapple, raspberries, cottage cheese, raisins, or thinly sliced carrots with ranch dressing.

Easiest Homemade Uncrustables

You can make one sandwich at a time, or make a batch of a few to stash in the freezer. Adjust this as needed for your preference.

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Tea Sandwiches for Kids

Learn how to make quick tea sandwiches for kids to have at a tea party or a special lunch or snack. There are 6 filling options here, plus tips for cutting bread, which breads to use, and which tea to pair with the finger sandwiches.

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stack of tea sandwiches for kids on plate
Quick Sandwich Roll Ups (2-Minute School Lunch)

Pair a soft sandwich bread with your filling of choice to make this easy toddler lunch or school lunch. You can even make them the night before.

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Favorite Salmon Salad Sandwich

This salmon salad is packed with protein, healthy fats, and calcium and can be used as a dip or a spread for sandwiches. We use homemade relish in this recipe, but you can use any that you like the flavor of.

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Veggie Grilled Cheese Sandwich (to Share with the Kids)

With just 4 ingredients, including a veggie that blends right in, this Veggie Grilled Cheese Sandwich is a yummy kids lunch to share. It packs extra nutrition in the filling, yet only takes a few minutes to make. Such a great easy meal!

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cereal in lunch box with berries and milk.

Breakfast for Lunch

I LOVE breakfast for lunch (and dinner!) and find that often, classic breakfast foods make for easy meals that the little kids love. And serving them for lunch is a great way to use up leftovers. We love simple options like cereal and milk, waffles, leftover pancakes, yogurt and granola, and the options below.

Fluffy Greek Yogurt Pancakes

With the most delicious fluffy texture and protein from Greek yogurt, these Greek Yogurt Pancakes are a breakfast win. You can add any fruit you like to the batter, too!

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Greek yogurt pancakes on various plates with sides.
Easy Overnight Oats with Applesauce

You can easily double (or triple!) the recipe to make more servings. It uses a 1 to 1 ratio of yogurt to applesauce so you can easily scale it up. Mix these up the night before you plan to serve them.

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Favorite Spinach Eggs (Green Eggs Recipe)

Packed with spinach (and iron!), these bright green eggs are fun and delicious. You can serve them as you would scrambled eggs, or use in a breakfast burrito or egg sandwich.

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spinach eggs on two plates on countertop.
Easy Homemade Granola Bars

We like to have these granola bars as a snack or toddler breakfast with milk or a smoothie—and they’re an excellent lunch box component too. You can make them plain or choose a flavor to add!

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Easy French Toast Sticks (Freezer-Friendly)

Use this easy method to make the best French Toast Sticks to share with your kids. They freeze so well!

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French toast sticks on kids plate with sides.
egg sandwiches in lunchbox.

Kids Lunches with Eggs

Eggs are easy to keep on hand in the fridge and super fast to cook up. Plus, they’re a great source of vegetarian protein and beneficial fats. In addition to sandwiches with sliced eggs and egg salad, these options make easy lunches, too.

Add simple sides such as apple slices, kid-friendly trail mix, pita bread and hummus, strawberries, grapes (sliced vertically if needed for kids under age 4), or oranges.

Mini Egg Muffins with Cheese and Veggies

These tender Egg Muffins are packed with protein and vitamins—and can be made ahead of time! Add any veggie you like, whether carrots, butternut squash, broccoli, or spinach.

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Easy Egg Cups (with Zucchini and Cheese)

Feel free to double the recipe to make a full 24 mini muffins! We like to stash these in the fridge to eat all week, so having more is usually helpful in our house.

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zucchini egg cups with berries and crackers
Easy Egg Bake (with Broccoli)

Transform just a few simple ingredients—including a pile of broccoli—into this protein-packed Egg Bake to share with the kids. It’s an easy breakfast or lunch that stores well and is simple to make ahead.

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Easy Egg Bake (with Broccoli)

Transform just a few simple ingredients—including a pile of broccoli—into this protein-packed Egg Bake to share with the kids. It’s an easy breakfast or lunch that stores well and is simple to make ahead.

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quinoa salad and strawberry yogurt lunch prep.

Grain Bowl Lunch Ideas

Make a batch of grains on the weekend and use them for easy toddler lunches throughout the week. Experiment to see which ones your toddler likes best—sometimes just a simple switch between types of rice can make a huge difference.

Easy Mediterranean Quinoa Salad

Mix up this grain salad to have lunches prepped for the week for yourself, or to have a dinner side or vegetarian main dish to share with the family.

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mediterranean quinoa salad on two plates
Quick Broccoli Fritters

Combine a pile of broccoli with a few pantry staples to make the yummiest Broccoli Fritters—in less than 15 minutes. This veggie fritter is so good with a whole range of dips, and it’s perfect for babies and toddlers on up.

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Broccoli fritters on white plate with dip on side.
Easy Quinoa Patties (Favorite Quinoa Cakes)

These quick Quinoa Patties are a delicious way to serve quinoa to kids—and adults! Plan to make the quinoa ahead of time so these come together in minutes.

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quinoa patties on purple plate
cheese and cracker lunch in lunchbox.

Snacky Lunch Ideas

Assembling bits and pieces of ingredients to make a fun snack plate is an easy toddler lunch—and one that you can easily adjust to make an adult lunch for yourself while you’re at it! This works so well at home or in a kids lunch box.

  • Simple Cheese and Crackers with your choice of whole grain crackers, sliced or diced cheese, fruit, and a simple veggie like cucumber or snap peas.
  • Muffin Lunch with fruit, cheese, and/or other assorted simple sides to round out the meal.
  • Pretzels and Nut/Seed Butter Plate with a simple veggie like snap peas or tomatoes and berries. (Trade in cheese for the nut/seed butter to vary this idea.)
  • Homemade Lunchables with whole grain crackers, deli meat, cheese, and a treat. And maybe some fresh fruit to round things out. Or Pizza Lunchables.
Strawberry muffin in container with sides for a vegetarian lunch idea.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are good ideas for kids for lunch?
What is a common toddler lunch?
What to make fussy kids for lunch?

Best Tips for Kids Lunch

  • Pack mostly food you know they like to ensure they always have enough to eat.
  • Create a habit of putting the lunchbox by the sink, rather than letting it linger in a backpack, each night to make sure you can get it clean.
  • Pack lunches in an insulated lunch bag with ice packs to keep the food cool.
  • Pack a drink as needed for your child. A water bottle, smoothie, yogurt, drink, or milk can all work.

Best Gear for Kids Lunches

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