Whether they are at school or at home, coming up with ideas for kids for lunch every.single.day can be kind of daunting. I get it! It’s easy to get in a lunchtime rut when it comes to kids’ lunches, especially if you have picky eaters (like we do, and like many parents do). But there really are a lot of options, and you can mix and match to make even more possibilities! In this article, I share some of my favorite lunch ideas for kids.
There really are a lot of quick, easy, and budget friendly options for kids lunch ideas. So read on to learn more!
What Can I Give My Child for Lunch?
If you’re wondering what you can give your child for lunch, just know that there are a lot of fun, simple, quick ideas–even for picky eaters. So don’t despair!
And don’t be too hard on yourself. If your sweet kiddo has gotten into the mindset that she’ll only eat PB&J sandwiches, that start slowly to introduce other things. Some (or at least a few) of them are bound to stick!
And just keep trying. Kids grow in and out of certain tastes all the time (kind of like adults do :)), so something they hate today they might be fine with or even really like tomorrow.
So keep offering the foods you hope your children will eat, be persistent, and just do your best. If you set a good example and model healthy eating habits, your kiddos will see that that is important and can take that example with them throughout their lives.
Easy Ways to Save Money on Lunches for Kids
There are great ways to save money on lunches for kids, and on groceries in general.
For example, three of my favorite apps for saving money on groceries are Ibotta, Rakuten (formerly Ebates), and Fetch Rewards (use XGGVM to get 2,000 bonus points when you sign up!). They are an easy way to save money on groceries every time you shop.
For example, you can get $20 just for signing up with Ibotta (probably still my favorite grocery money saving app), and you also get a $20 bonus when you sign up for Rakuten. And you can even stack your savings by using Ibotta, Rakuten, and Fetch all to save money on the same shopping purchases!
You can also save more money when grocery shopping by taking advantage of the sales and discounted items, buying produce in season, buying less expensive cuts of meat, buying generic brands rather than more popular name brands, and more.
You can find tons of ideas for how to slash your food and grocery budget here.
Tip: Save the image above to Pinterest so that you can easily refer to this article with lunch ideas for kids later!
Tips for Getting Picky Eaters to Eat
We have three young kiddos, and they don’t (won’t) eat everything we make or offer. I know the struggle is real, mama! But there are some simple things you can do to encourage your picky eaters to eat.
- Try and make it fun. If there’s a way to make the food look fun to eat, do it! Look to Google and Pinterest for inspiration. But even cutting sandwiches in smaller squares or in strips or using a large round cookie cutter to make them into circles can be fun for kiddos, for example. And you could make a smiley face with squeezy jam …
- Regularly give your kiddos a wide variety of foods, including different vegetables and fruits.
- Keep trying. Even if your kiddo won’t eat something today, they may love it tomorrow. Kids are fickle, so just keep offering the foods you want them to eat.
- Set a good example. Try to have vegetables with every lunch and dinner (and eat them yourself), to model healthy eating for your kiddos.
- Related to the item just above, plan to eat your meals together. This is not only a great idea for setting a good example for eating habits, but it can strengthen your family bonds, as well.
Check out these related articles:
- 85+ Easy and Fun Toddler Finger Foods
- 55+ Easy Toddler Meals (Your Kiddos Will Love!)
- 55+ Easy and Delicious 3 Ingredient Recipes
- 35+ Frugal Meals Your Family Will Love
- 15 Simple 5 Ingredient Recipes
- 15 Easy Chicken Crockpot Recipes
- 65+ Fun Dinner Themes to Make Meal Planning Easier
- 15 Easy and Budget Friendly Dinners for Families
- 7 Best Grocery Money Saving Tips to Stretch Your Monthly Budget
53+ Quick and Easy Lunch Ideas for Kids
Below are some of my favorite kids lunch ideas. These are all ideas for kids lunches that you can make fast for your hungry little munchkins. 🙂
Be sure to also check out the list below this one with awesome sides (veggies, fruits, and snack-type foods) that you can pair with these easy kids lunches.
- Chicken salad and tomato pitas (prepare chicken like you would for chicken salad sandwiches, add chopped or sliced tomatoes, and enjoy!)
- Chicken salad sandwiches
- Pasta and beef skillet (homemade Hamburger Helper)
- Mac and cheese
- Veggie mac and cheese (or Hidden Veggie Mac and Cheese)
- Corn dogs (off the stick and cut up, for young kids) and tater tots
- Chicken nuggets or chicken fingers and fries
- Fish sticks and fries or chips
- BLT wraps
- Sloppy joes
- Hot dogs (chopped up, for younger kiddos) and fries
- Chili dogs with chips or fries
- Hashbrowns and sliced hot dogs skillet
- Peanut butter (or other nut butter) and jelly or jam sandwiches
- Peanut butter and honey sandwiches
- Peanut butter and banana sandwiches
- Bagel pizzas or pizza buns, or individual pizzas
- Pizza quesadillas
- French bread pizza
- Quesadillas or ham and cheese quesadillas (or other favorite meat)
- Bean and cheese quesadillas
- Bean and cheese burritos
- Chicken or beef and cheese tostadas
- Stand-up tacos (put some broken tortilla chips on the plate and top with your favorite taco toppings, such as meat, chopped tomatoes, chopped lettuce, shredded cheese, sliced olives, salsa, sour cream, and guacamole, top with ranch dressing, if desired, and enjoy!)
- Taco soup
- Ham (or other deli meat) and cheese sandwich or wrap
- Pasta salad
- Macaroni salad
- Egg salad sandwiches (with relish, if your kiddos like that)
- Egg salad and tuna or avocado sandwiches
- Tuna sandwiches
- Tuna melts (cheddar makes everything better :))
- Cheese sandwiches or grilled cheese sandwiches (with tomato or cream of mushroom soup)
- Alphabet or chicken noodle soup with bread and butter or crackers
- Ramen noodles with vegetables (and chicken, if desired)
- Hamburger, ramen, and veggie skillet
- Chili with tortilla chips or cornbread
- Tomato or mushroom soup with crackers
- Hard-boiled eggs with cheese wedges
- Bagel sandwich or mini bagel sandwiches
- Bagel with cream cheese
- Egg omelet or scrambled eggs with toast
- Homemade Lunchables (crackers, cheese wedges or cubes, pepperoni or chunks of meat, carrot sticks or sliced apples, and a treat)
- Cheese sticks (or cheese wedges or sliced cheese or shredded cheese) with crackers and chopped meat or pepperoni
- Snack crackers with peanut butter and celery
- Pizza sandwich (bread, cheese, pepperoni, or other favorite pizza toppings; can be open-faced or closed)
- Mini deli meat and cheese kebabs (use toothpicks)
- Cream cheese and jam or jelly wraps
- Leftover pancakes or waffles
- Leftover French toast or muffins
- Leftovers from kid-friendly dinners
- Scrambled eggs with toast or in a tortilla shell
- Scrambled eggs, cheese, and ham in a mug
Great Side Ideas for Kids Lunches
To help make balanced meals, pair the easy ideas for kids lunches above with these simple sides. Sometimes, you might even serve a more “snacky” type lunch for your kiddos made up of one or more of the items below.
- Apple slices
- Banana or banana wedges
- Chopped broccoli and cauliflower with ranch or hummus
- Chopped or sliced strawberries
- Chopped watermelon, cantaloupe, or honeydew
- Small orange or orange slices
- Berries (raspberries, blueberries, and/or blackberries)
- Kiwi slices or chunks
- Pineapple slices and chunks
- Chopped carrots or baby carrots
- Sliced peaches, pears, or plums
- Celery wedges (with peanut butter or nut butter or ranch)
- Snap peas
- Grape tomatoes or sliced tomatoes
- Sliced cucumbers
- Green beans
- Edamame (soybeans)
- Baby pickles or sliced pickles
- Sweet corn
- Peas and diced carrots
- Olives or green olives
- Vegetable straws or vegetable crackers or chips
- Cheese crackers
- Snack crackers (such as wheat crackers or round buttery crackers)
- Pita bread wedges (or pita crackers) with hummus
- Tortilla chips with salsa, guacamole, or hummus
- Tortilla chips with bean and cheese dip
- Fruit leather
- Cheese wedges
- Cheese stick
- Cottage cheese
- Cottage cheese with fruit such as chopped pear, chopped peach, or chopped tomato
- Granola bar
- Fruit bar
- Fruit snacks
- Gelatin cup
- Pudding cup
- Sandwich cookie
- Animal crackers
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Final Thoughts on Ideas for Kids Lunches
Even when you have picky eaters, you can still find fun kids lunches your little ones will love!
What other quick and easy ideas for kids lunches do you have? What favorite kids lunches do you go to again and again? Leave a comment below and let me know. I would love to hear your thoughts!