52 Easy School Lunch Ideas

lunches 1967


Get kids excited about taking lunch to school by offering plenty of variety. Tailor this list of 52 lunchbox ideas to your child’s preferences. Discover her favorites and plan them once a week. Consider planning school lunches one month at a time, using a dry-erase calendar or typing and printing a list. Have fun and make school lunches something your child looks forward to eating. Be sure to consider accessibility to a refrigerator and microwave.

  1. DIY “lunchable”: Whole-wheat crackers, chunks of cheese and slices of meat

  2. Bagel and cream cheese

  3. Mini pizza: English muffin, pizza sauce, cheese, pepperoni

  4. Banana slices and peanut butter with a handful of popcorn

  5. Ants on a log: Celery sticks with peanut butter (or cream cheese) and raisins on top

  6. Apple sandwiches: Slice apples into rings and spread peanut butter on each piece

    Cottage Cheese and fruit is a good lunch.
  7. Cottage cheese mixed with fruit 

  8. Hot dog cut into bite-sized pieces with ketchup for dipping

  9. Hard-boiled egg and a smoothie

  10. Bacon, lettuce and tomato (BLT) sandwich

  11. Sliders (mini hamburgers with cheese)

  12. Hummus and vegetables

  13. Pita pocket stuffed with sliced meat, lettuce and mayonnaise

  14. Chili with cheese sprinkled on top

  15. Soup packed in a thermos to stay warm

  16. Salad with your child’s favorite toppings. Put dressing in a separate container.

  17. Fruit kabobs with yogurt for dipping

  18. Turkey and cheese sandwich

  19. Peanut butter and marshmallow creme (fluff) sandwich

    Pancakes! Yum Yum.
  20. Pancakes or waffles (syrup in a separate container)

  21. Mini muffins with fruit

  22. Omelet

  23. Breakfast casserole (hash browns, eggs, meat, cheese)

  24. French toast sticks (syrup on side)

  25. Yogurt parfait with homemade granola (rolled oats, chia seeds, flax seeds, brown sugar & salt)

  26. Macaroni and cheese

  27. Pasta with frozen peas and carrots (they’ll thaw by lunchtime)

  28. Zucchini bread, applesauce bread or pumpkin bread with a side of applesauce or yogurt

  29. Cereal and fruit (buy milk at school)

  30. Chicken nuggets with dipping sauce

    Grilled cheese with a hot bowl of tomato soup is healthy.
  31. Grilled cheese (add tomatoes or bacon) with cup of tomato soup

  32. Quiche with side salad

  33. Baked potato with cheese, broccoli and/or bacon

  34. Tuna sandwich and chips

  35. Cheese quesadillas with side of refried beans

  36. Burrito with tortilla chips & salsa

  37. Sliced chicken breast with rice and vegetables

  38. Cheese plate (variety of cheeses with crackers, olives or fruit)

  39. Egg salad sandwich and pretzels

  40. Ham and cheese croissant sandwich

  41. Pigs in a blanket (hot dogs baked in crescent roll dough)

  42. Spaghetti with meatballs
    How hard is it to put together a taco for lunch?
  43. Tacos (assemble at school)

  44. Fish sticks with tartar sauce

  45. Panini and chips

  46. Lettuce wraps (bib lettuce with toppings that can be rolled up inside)

  47. Stir fry and rice

  48. Calzone (pizza dough stuffed with cheese, pepperoni and sauce)

  49. Chicken salad sandwich and grapes

  50. Pulled pork sandwich

  51. Nachos

  52. Sloppy joe


Meagan Ruffing is a freelance writer. She was inspired to write this article when her son kept coming home from school with lunch still in his bag.


Discover 6 Grab-and-Go Breakfasts for Hurried School Mornings.

Published August 2016

Father's Day Blue Cheese Sliders

Father's Day Blue Cheese Sliders

Celebrate Father's Day with Sensational Blue Cheese Sliders 

 Here is a delicious recipe that will keep Dad talking about your Father's Day celebration all year long.   Blue Cheese . . .

Read more

Sam the Cooking Guy’s Grilled Lobster Tails with Thyme Butter

Sam the Cooking Guy’s Grilled Lobster Tails with Thyme Butter

Father's Day at my house is centered around the backyard—and that means grilling. A special day requires special food, and that means lobster tails. Simple and delicious, you can eat them right of . . .

Read more

San Diego Restaurants with Kid-Friendly Play Space

San Diego Restaurants with Kid-Friendly Play Space

Hey, foodie parents. Skip the dollar menu this weekend. These local restaurants feature real chefs, great food and play spaces for kids. Officine Buona Forchetta2816 Sims Rd., Liberty StationThis che . . .

Read more

Ramona's Shrimp and Sausage Kabobs

Ramona's Shrimp and Sausage Kabobs

Looking for something delicious to make this summer? Ramona’s recipes for kabobs, lemon orzo and homemade salad dressing are sure to satisfy your family on a warm summer evening. The meal is nice . . .

Read more

Authentic Mexican Street Corn

Authentic Mexican Street Corn

This Mexican Street Corn recipe is made by grilling corn on the cob and coating it with a mixture of mayonnaise, sour cream, Cotija cheese, chili powder and lime. Also called elotes, this easy-to-ma . . .

Read more

Chicken Lettuce Wraps with Spicy Peanut Sauce

Chicken Lettuce Wraps with Spicy Peanut Sauce

Lettuce wraps are a delicious way to celebrate Chinese New Year at home! Omit the cayenne pepper to make a milder version of the sauce.Ingredients3 - 6 oz. chicken breasts1 Tablespoon soy sauce1 Tab . . .

Read more

21 Ways to Make S'mores

21 Ways to Make S'mores

I understand that for some, messing with traditional s'mores is downright wrong. But if it's the taste of s'mores that you crave, you're probably open to venturing outside the box (or in this case, th . . .

Read more

Edible Dragon Eggs

Edible Dragon Eggs

Whether you're planning a dinosaur-themed party or looking for a unique way to decorate Easter eggs, these reptilian-looking hard-boiled eggs are sure to be a hit with the kids! Blogger Arena Blake . . .

Read more

Birthday Cake Milkshakes

Birthday Cake Milkshakes

Making milkshakes for kids is so quick and easy—it’s like whipping up a birthday party in minutes. When it comes to authentic birthday cake flavor, you don’t need store-bought cake mix, since . . .

Read more

The Iron Man

The Iron Man

Looking for clever ways to include fruits and veggies in your kids diet? Try this juice recipe from “Best 100 Juices for Kids” by food blogger and San Diego mom, Jessica Fisher. Fans of Tony Sta . . .

Read more

Confessions of a Weekday Vegan

Confessions of a Weekday Vegan

A semi-vegan approach for healthy kids and a healthy planet Scroll down for a list of kid-friendly vegan meal ideas. For the third time in my adult life, I’ve rewritten my weekly shopping list t . . .

Read more

How to Plan a Month of Meals

How to Plan a Month of Meals

Plus, 17 ways to use a rotisserie chicken Fall is the time of year I’m determined to plan dinners in advance, shop for everything at once and serve healthy meals every night. That usually lasts a . . .

Read more

10 Easy & Nutritious Afterschool Snacks

10 Easy & Nutritious Afterschool Snacks

My daughter eats lunch at school at 10:30 in the morning. Afternoon snacks are not given. She’s starving by the time she gets home from school at 4:00, but the rest of the family isn’t home and . . .

Read more

Snacking with Joy: Flower Box

Snacking with Joy: Flower Box

I designed this healthy flower box snack for my girls, who are allergic to nuts. We enjoy creating afterschool snacks together and making food allergies fun! I like to call it “Snacking with Joy. . . .

Read more

52 Easy School Lunch Ideas

52 Easy School Lunch Ideas

Get kids excited about taking lunch to school by offering plenty of variety. Tailor this list of 52 lunchbox ideas to your child’s preferences. Discover her favorites and plan them once a week. Co . . .

Read more

6 Grab-and-Go Breakfasts for Hurried School Mornings

6 Grab-and-Go Breakfasts for Hurried School Mornings

Despite the fact that we have a solid morning routine, sometimes we get sidetracked and don’t have time to eat breakfast at home. Eating breakfast in the car isn't ideal, but it’s better than sk . . .

Read more

Star Spangled Soda

Star Spangled Soda

Star-Spangled Soda Doubles as a refreshing drink and a great science experiment! It’s a great addition to any cookout—Memorial Day, 4th of July or any summer celebration.IngredientsCranberry ju . . .

Read more

Patriotic Watermelon Flag Kebabs

Patriotic Watermelon Flag Kebabs

This American flag “cake” will be the star of your 4th of July picnic or summer party—and it’s easy enough that the kids can help make it! Here’s how to make an American flag “cake” wi . . .

Read more

Summertime Watermelon Popsicles

Summertime Watermelon Popsicles

Ah, summer—time to pull out the popsicle maker and homemade popsicle recipes! Kids will love these delicious, refreshing watermelon popsicles. Ingredients 3½ cups cubed seedless watermelon 5 . . .

Read more

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Watermelon Carving

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Watermelon Carving

Nothing says summer like eating delicious, ripe watermelon. This watermelon carving is perfect for a summer birthday party or to pair with summer reading activities! Here’s how to cut a watermelon . . .

Read more

Chicken-Chile Pozole

Chicken-Chile Pozole

Melissa d'Arabian's Chicken-Chile PozoleThis brothy Mexican soup is chock-full of hominy, mild dried chiles, and shredded chicken or pork. Shredded chicken and mild New Mexico dried red chiles make . . .

Read more

Mother's Day Mini Quiches

Mother's Day Mini Quiches

  There are dozens of ways you can celebrate moms and the women in your life - get creative and give her a Mother's Day she'll never forget. Crustless Broccoli and Cheddar Mini Quiches  . . .

Read more

Buttermilk Scones

Buttermilk Scones

Melissa d’Arabian’s Buttermilk SconesMakes 122 cups all-purpose flour, plus more fordusting6 tablespoons granulated sugar2 teaspoons baking powder1/2 teaspoon baking soda2 tablespoons dry butt . . .

Read more

Chef Matt Gordon's Famous Cinnamon Rolls

Chef Matt Gordon's Famous Cinnamon Rolls

Chef Matt Gordon’s cuisine dazzles diners every day at his three San Diego restaurants—Solace & the Moonlight Lounge, Sea & Smoke and Urban Solace. (Author’s note: the warm cheese bisc . . .

Read more

Melissa d’Arabian’s Potato Bacon Torte

Melissa d’Arabian’s Potato Bacon Torte

This is my signature dish, and may actually be the recipe on “The Next Food Network Star” that won me my own cooking show, Ten Dollar Dinners. 6 servingsFor the crust2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour . . .

Read more

San Diego Family Magazine Logo

Be Family Informed – Sign up for our Newsletters below!