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Best School Lunch Ideas for Kids

Created July 19, 2021
We know that back to school can be tricky, so we’re here to make it a little easier for you. School lunch ideas for picky eaters? We got them. Easy school lunches? Have those covered, too. Lunch box ideas? Sure thing! For those who aren’t like a regular parent, they're a cool parent, we have fun school lunch ideas as well. Stick with us for healthy, tasty options and give your kids the energy they need.

The ABCs of Packing Lunches

A is for Appetite

  • Pack small servings. For younger kids, think snack-size! For easy lunch ideas for kids, try 3 or 4 small servings of different foods, such as a sandwich cut in half.
  • Protein extends energy! Since protein can help slow digestion, it keeps kids from getting too hungry or tired. Add options such as meat, cheese, turkey, yogurt or peanut butter into every lunch.
  • Serve up some serious food goals. Looking for a fun lunchbox idea? Consider color and texture to make lunch more interesting. Try packing creamy yogurt with a crisp apple. Get creative with how you pack each meal; stickers, colored plastic wrap and fun napkins are a game-changer.

B is for Beverages

  • When packing beverages, include options that taste good and help little bodies grow! Try adding water, milk* or any 100% juice that’s fortified with calcium. After all, a little chocolate milk now and again is good for the soul.

*For food safety, purchase milk at school, buy shelf-stable milk or use a freezer pack to keep milk cold.

C is for Commitment to Food Safety

  • Think about the lunch you’re packing! Make sure to keep cool foods cold and hot foods hot! An insulated lunch box is a great way to achieve this. Plus, we love an environmentally friendly moment.
  • Pro-tip, freeze foods, such as noncarbonated drinks, sandwich bread and Go-Gurt™ yogurt before packing. They’ll thaw by lunchtime, keep the rest of the foods cool and make for a great lunch box idea.
  • For hot foods, get a small thermos! Give it a test to make sure it keeps your hot foods hot (at least 140 degrees) for up to 4 hours.
  • Hand sanitizer is a major win and keeps little hands clean. Toss a bottle in with their lunch.

D is for Don’t Forget These Quick Tips

  • Don’t stress about school lunch ideas for picky eaters! Make packing lunch an activity and have your kids help chose what to pack. This way, you can help them make healthy choices, and they get a say. Oh, hello, super parent!
  • Keep convenient foods at the ready. A stash of single-serving fruit cups, puddings, vegetable dips, etc., can be a lifesaver when the day gets away from you.
  • Don’t sleep on leftovers! Instead, see what can be repurposed for a wildly delicious lunch.
  • Four Foods for Every Lunch Box

    Lunch box ideas can be easy and healthy. Consider packing a grain, calcium-rich food, protein, fruits or vegetables and the occasional delightful dessert. Here’s why:

    • Grains are great for energy, B vitamins and fiber. So when you can, try to use whole grains.
    • To build better bones and strong, healthy teeth, don’t forget the calcium-rich foods!
    • Protein is essential for growth, muscles and bones.
    • Fruits and vegetables contain a wealth of vitamins and minerals that keep the body strong and able to fight off illness.
    • Dessert, well, they just make everything better.

    Possible Pickings

    Grains Calcium-Rich Protein Fruits & Veggies
    Bread or bagel Yogurt dips for fruit Dairy (cottage cheese, yogurt, etc.) Berries, melon, pineapple
    Tortillas or pita pockets Dill Yogurt dip for veggies Turkey, ham, roast beef or chicken Carrots, sweet peppers, jicima
    Crackers or pretzels Cheese Nuts or peanut butter Apple wedges (dip in OJ to keep fresh)
    Biscuit or muffin Snack-size pudding or yogurt Salads (turkey, ham, chicken, tuna) Cherry tomatoes or sweet pea pods
    Pasta Milk or calcium-fortified juices Egg Dried fruit (apricots, apples, etc.)

    Five Easy School Lunch Ideas

    Lunch Idea One:

    Lunch Idea Two:

    • Chicken Noodle Soup
    • Breadsticks
    • Cottage cheese and baby carrots
    • Fruit Roll-Ups
    • Calcium-fortified orange juice

    Lunch Idea Three:

    Lunch Idea Four:

    Lunch Idea Five:

    Looking for even more easy lunch ideas for kids? Betty’s got your back. Click here for more.