50 Lunch Box Ideas

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Are you stuck for kids lunch ideas?  When it comes to packing school lunches your kids will enjoy (and not return home with), remember that much of the battle is variety and communication. Here are 50 Lunch Box Ideas to get you started.
  1. An “I love you” note from Mom or Dad or both. Oh, yes they do want one.
  2. Turkey wrap with mayo, dried cranberries, grated swiss or gouda
  3. Cheese and crackers – in the same shape to make mini sandwiches, plus strawberries
  4. Tomato soup with grated cheese for sprinkling, plus goldfish crackers for swimming
  5. Raw veggies and dip (make a fast homemade dip by stirring a favourite salad dressing into a small container of mayonnaise and/or sour cream)
  6. Homemade trail mix (mix dried fruit with dry cereals) with yogurt and a banana
  7. If you like to send milk, try freezing the container when it’s half full. In the morning, fill it up with cold milk and it should be perfect by lunchtime.
  8. Leftover pasta, any shape, with any sauce they like. This is a great chance to rotate different shapes and sauces for variety. Pasta comes in bowties, butterflies, tubes, spirals, stars, alphabets….perfect for kids!
  9. A thermos or other container that will let you send warm or hot food….experiment to find one you like, it will let you send leftovers, soup, etc!
  10. Pancakes left over from Sunday brunch can be cut into manageable strips and packed warm. Add blueberries.
  11. Vegetable or chicken noodle soup – send their favourite shaped crackers along with it
  12. Anything your child has liked while on a playdate, at a restaurant or tried with a friend. Again, the environment can affect reaction! Don’t be afraid to try things at home to test opinions, but maybe try that new lunch idea outside on the deck, or on a blanket for an indoor picnic. You might be surprised what they’ll eat when it’s fun!
  13. Ham & cheese sandwich, send pickles separately to add before eating
  14. Roast beef sandwich, pack tomatoes or lettuce separately
  15. Cream cheese and jam sandwich – a school-friendly twist on the classic pb & j.Add an apple for crunch.
  16. Red and orange peppers, crackers and string cheese
  17. A silly joke or riddle to share
  18. Pita bread with their favourite filling…meat, grated veggies, grated cheese
  19. Small portions! Huge lunches can be intimidating. Try half a sandwich, small portions of each item. Pack for the child eating it!
  20. Homemade fruit salad, with buttered buns and rolls of turkey on the side
  21. Leftover homemade soup, meatballs, lasagne – anything they eat well for supper often can be taken in a thermos
  22. Bright stickers, especially ones with cheery or silly messages on them
  23. Waffles, cut into fingers, with yogurt for dipping
  24. Mini pizzas, especially if made by kids with toppings they like or let them top their own
  25. Leftover steamed veggies tossed with pasta
  26. A sparkly new pencil, already sharpened and ready to use
  27. Buy partially baked breadsticks, sprinkle with olive oil and parmesan, finish baking. Save any leftovers and send them with pizza sauce. Add grapes.
  28. Brightly coloured containers to help get little appetites going!
  29. Cube ham, cheese and send with cherry tomatoes and breadsticks
  30. Colour coded lunch. Serve only red foods or green foods or whatever your child’s favourite colour happens to be.
  31. Egg salad sandwiches with cucumber slices
  32. Anything your kid likes that’s healthy. Anything. My child will eat frozen corn as a snack as it thaws. Next year as he heads to school, you can bet it will show up in his lunch, because I know he’ll eat it! Why not?
  33. Bagel with cream cheese, send with apple slices
  34. Crunchy salad – any combo of raw veggies they’ll eat, skip lettuce if they prefer others. Add a buttered bun and a few slices of good cheese.
  35. Carrots and hummus, with good bread for dipping
  36. Cut sandwiches into fun shapes or make a puzzle sandwich.
  37. Cream cheese, tomato, lettuce wraps
  38. Ice pack to keep things cool – look for small sizes, cute shapes
  39. Make a mini deli tray – roll their favourite sandwich meat, roll a couple of cheese slices, cut veggies into long sticks
  40. Frozen juice boxes – 100% fruit juice is best, let them cool food if short on space
  41. Don’t forget something sweet for dessert – homemade treats let you control the sugar and leave out the nuts that are likely on the forbidden list for schools. Look for recipes that have sneaky additions like oatmeal, raisins, applesauce or fruit for an extra nutritional boost!
  42. Leftover grilled chicken breast – cut it up and let them add to a wrap or salad, or make a chicken salad to add to a sandwich or pita
  43. Cut up a bagel into chunks, send with a container of stirred cream cheese for dipping.
  44. Homemade muffins: try raisin, carrot, cheese, anything with whole wheat flour so it can act as part of lunch instead of dessert. Add a tin of canned fruit (look for selections packed in water).
  45. Try a sandwich made from cream cheese, shredded carrot and raisins.
  46. Try your child’s favourite veggies chopped and mixed with a bit of salsa. Store in a jar, then let them all it to a pita with shredded cheese at lunchtime.
  47. Cold pasta salad recipes are easy to find and quick to make from leftover pasta.
  48. Anything your child has mentioned that their friends had that looked appealing. Never underestimate the power of peer encouragement!
  49. Add a way to clean hands! Sometimes kids don’t like sticky hands, and that orange just looks like too much work. Slice it up, add napkins or wipes.
  50. Don’t forget the lunch box itself – pick one your child likes or better yet, let them pick for themselves! Half the battle can be getting them to love their lunch box, bag, whatever you choose! Check out some of our Fabulous finds

Listen to what your kids say they like, watch what they eat without any prodding at home. Try different variations of a favourite…if they like turkey, one week make a classic turkey sandwich. The next week try a turkey wrap with dried cranberries. Later you could try a turkey salad in a container with buns and cranberry jelly on the side sent with a spoon. Perhaps another week could find chopped turkey, lettuce and tomato all cut into containers and waiting to be thrown into a pita.

If you think of your child’s favourites as simply inspiration or a starting point, even those so-called picky kids who only seem to like half a dozen things can have weeks of healthy variety! And when that happens, everyone wins!

Hope you enjoyed these 50 Lunch Ideas, add your ideas to the comments below…

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2 thoughts on “50 Lunch Box Ideas”

  1. Hi Jen,
    Sounds mostly like good advice. Have you had any experience that this will keep them away from the fast foods >

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