Coming up with interesting lunch ideas for kids can be tiring.
Yes, those pinterest-perfect lunches in the shapes of little animals and food pictures are cute, but they aren’t always realistic.
What’s important is that we feel good about giving our kids a nutritious lunch–but one they’ll also enjoy.
I wanted to share 21 simple lunch ideas for kids (7 lunch ideas, each made 3 ways!). So you can make it easy on yourself, but not boring for the kids.
Mixing and matching the fruits/veggies/snacks gives you even more lunch idea options!
What makes these lunch ideas for kids so amazing?
- Easy on the moms: they’re straightforward, simple to make, and not time-consuming.
- Offers a variety of lunch ideas for kids: Using the 7 core lunch ideas, you can create 21+ lunches for your little ones.
- Practical lunches: Most people have these ingredients in their home. There are no fancy ingredients or artistic talents needed to create these lunches. And they provide a solid meal for your kids, incorporating a range of protein, fruits & veggies.
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Lunch Ideas For Kids: Menu
Main Course Lunch idea (with 3 ways to make each):
Peanut butter & jelly (PB&J):
- Sandwich made with bread or deli flat
- PB&J on saltine crackers
- PB&J on tortilla, rolled up
*(substitute cream cheese for peanut butter if peanut allergy)
- Hard boiled
- Scrambled, and served plain or on tortilla with cheese
- Egg salad on bread, in a wrap, or with crackers
- Lunchmeat & cheese on bread w/mustard or mayo
- Cheese & lunch meat roll ups
- Grilled cheese & lunchmeat
Hot dog (cut up):
- Open-faced on bread like a boat
- In a classic hotdog bun with favorite toppings
- Hotdog quesadilla: Place hotdog pieces and shredded cheese between 2 tortillas & microwave
Beef or turkey meatballs:
- Served on a plate, and served with a side of pasta
- In a hot dog bun and topped with cheese
- On skewers to dip in favorite dipping sauce
English muffin mini pizzas: microwaved to melt cheese
- With Sauce/cheese toppings
- Cream cheese/chopped veggies toppings (eat cold)
- Ham/pineapple/cheese pizza toppings
- Tuna salad in a bowl and served with crackers
- Sandwich served on bread or deli flat
- In a wrap or pita pocket
Fruit/veggie/snack Ideas (pick one or two):
- Cut up grapes
- Apple slices
- Mandarin orange slices
- Bell Pepper slices
- Sliced cucumber
- Carrot sticks
- Almonds (nuts)
- Snack packs of cookies, crackers or chips
- Side of pasta
- Cheese stick
- Pieces of melon
- Celery sticks
PIN IT FOR LATER
Lunch ideas for Kids: Helpful Tips
Kids lunchtime drinks:
I only offer milk or water for lunch. I reserve orange juice or fruit juice box for weekend pancake breakfasts or a special occasion. This limits sugar and protects their teeth.
Veggies with lunch:
Serving veggies with lunch gets veggies in your kids earlier in the day. I consider it a bonus if they eat more with dinner. This helps limit the veggie struggle at dinner when they are usually tired since it’s closer to bedtime.
Consider lighter lunches:
If your child eats a big breakfast, consider giving a lighter lunch, keeping in mind their bedtime and what time dinner will be served.
My kids go to bed around 7-7:30pm so dinner is usually between 4-5pm. If they eat too much lunch or snacks in the afternoon, they usually don’t eat much for dinner.
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Limit snacks to meal time:
This can be a hard one for parents when kids are pestering about snacks and it’s easier to just hand them one. My kids love snacks, but I’ve found snacking keeps them from eating dinner.
When they fill up throughout the day, then they aren’t as hungry by dinnertime. When I stopped allowing snacks after lunchtime, they ate so much better at dinnertime.
Adjust meals to your child’s needs:
Kids are different and their nutrition needs are, too. My son more often than not can eat two main meals a day and be full. I’ve learned that that’s why he wasn’t eating dinner when he had a big breakfast or lunch.
So when we switched to a bigger breakfast and a lighter lunch, he ate wonderfully at dinner. It just takes a little adjusting of their meals and schedules to figure what works best for them.
Keep offering a variety of fruits & veggies with the main lunch:
Introducing a food over and over may one day click and they’ll try it. Sometimes our kids, especially toddlers, just need a little time to get used to a new food.
Offering a variety will help expand their palates and keep them from getting stuck in a lunch rut.
Eat lunch with your child (if they aren’t in school):
Our kids like to mimic us, and they learn by our example. If they see you eating your carrot sticks, they’re more likely to want to eat theirs, too!
Instead of cleaning, throwing in a load of laundry or making a phone call while they’re eating, take a few minutes to sit and chow down with them.
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