Looking for tasty sandwich alternatives to pack in your child’s lunch box? These creative school lunch ideas for kids are just the ticket! Mac and cheese muffins, pizza pancakes, chicken ranch roll-ups, and LOTS more!
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It’s Back-to-School time, and along with the rush of school supply shopping often comes the dreaded mealtime dilemma – what should I pack for school lunches inside of that cute new lunch box?!
If your kids are anything like mine, sandwich burnout hits them quickly into the school year, and I often find myself on the hunt for new and creative sandwich alternatives and other healthy lunch ideas. Since many of you are probably in the same boat, I compiled a list of 25 fun and unique school lunch ideas for kids that are mostly sandwich-free!
All of the ideas here can be modified to suit your tastes and ingredient preferences – I personally lean towards healthy lunches and whole grains for my kids, so I use these ideas as my starting point and then tweak them as necessary. Simply add a side of your favorite fresh fruit and veggies (we like baby carrots or carrot sticks, cucumber slices, and apple slices) for a balanced meal your kids will love!
25 School Lunch Ideas for Kids
Pizza + pancakes? It’s not as crazy as it might sound…in fact, it’s downright delicious! Made with a savory pancake batter, these pizza pancakes are a hit with kids of all ages, and they’re easy to customize with your favorite pizza topping ingredients like pepperoni, bell peppers, and olives! Include a side of tomato sauce or ranch dressing for dipping.
Fruity Chicken Meatballs
These Fruity Chicken Meatballs from Healthy Little Foodies are a great finger food for kids of all ages! Serve with dipping sauce or with a side of rice and vegetables.
These savory Taco Pockets from I Heart Naptime are a kid-friendly favorite and a smart way to turn Taco Night leftovers into a great lunch the next day! Use ground beef, turkey, or rotisserie chicken to create these tasty handheld pockets that are perfect for lunches on the go!
Barbecue Chicken Cups
Barbecue Chicken Cups are an easy lunch idea that can be made quickly using leftover chicken (or rotisserie chicken)! Serve with a side of green salad or fruit salad for a complete meal.
Chicken Ranch Wraps
These Chicken Ranch Wraps from Gimme Delicious use simple ingredients that meld into a delicious flavor combination!
Cheesy Pepperoni Pizza Sticks
Cheesy pepperoni pizza sticks are a perfectly portable school lunch idea! Get the recipe from I Wash, You Dry.
Chicken and Waffle Sliders
These yummy Chicken and Waffle Sliders are made with a honey cornbread batter for a savory-sweet waffles that pair perfectly with the chicken! Use store-bought chicken strips to save even more time for these fun lunchbox favorites!
Banana Cereal Snacks
Banana Cereal Snacks – this healthy tasty treat is just as simple to make as it is to eat! Bring some of your breakfast favorites to your child’s lunchbox!
Ham and Cheese Lunchbox Muffins
These yummy ham & cheese muffins from I Should Be Mopping the Floor will make your kiddo the envy of the cafeteria! They’re a great option for using up leftover mac and cheese to avoid food waste!
Lunch Box Kabobs
Lunch Box Kabobs – if your little ones are bored with traditional sandwiches, try putting the sandwich ingredients on a stick like these ones from It’s a Keeper! Skewer cherry tomatoes, sliced deli meats, and cheese cubes for a fun twist on traditional sandwiches!
Bagel Pizzas are a great way to use up leftover bread products or the remaining odds and ends in your bread box. Besides bagels, they also work great with whole wheat pita bread, tortillas, heels of bread, etc. – my kids love English muffin pizzas!
Whole Wheat Banana Muffins
Whole Wheat Banana Muffins – no processed food here in this healthy recipe from Sweet as Honey! Use real whole foods to create delicious, moist, and nut-free banana muffins for your child’s lunch box!
If you’re are going to pack a sandwich, have fun with it and score some extra points for creativity with these silly Monster Sandwiches from Chocolate & Carrots!
Mini Corndog Muffins
Mini Corn Dog Muffins like these ones from Hip 2 Save are the perfect lunch box addition! These bite-sized corndogs combine mini cornbread muffins with hot dogs for a pop-able lunch option that kids will love!
Ham and Cheese Pockets
All you need are puff pastry sheets, cheddar cheese slices, and ham slices to create these flaky and delicious Ham and Cheese Pockets from Dessert Now Dinner Later! Crescent rolls or rolled out biscuit dough could also be substituted for the puff pastry if you prefer.
Healthy Strawberry Oatmeal Bars
These Healthy Strawberry Oatmeal Bars from Well Plated may be the most delicious non-sandwich lunch idea ever! These bars are great for breakfast, lunch, snacks, AND dessert!
Grilled Cheese Roll-Ups
Grilled Cheese Roll-Ups like these ones from Something About Sandwiches are SO easy to make, and let’s be honest, my kids are ten times more likely to eat them when they’re rolled up like this vs in a traditional sandwich format! Use a whole wheat tortilla in place of the bread for a boost of whole grain nutrition.
Pancake and Fruit Skewers
Who said breakfast is only for mornings? Make up a batch of Pancake and Fruit Skewers and add a hard-boiled egg and healthy sausage or bacon on the side for a breakfast-inspired lunch that’s sure to become a new favorite!
Quesadillas are a kid favorite for good reason, and they don’t need to be served piping hot to be delicious! Make a simple cheese quesadilla or add black beans or refried beans for extra protein and serve with a side of fruit, tortilla chips, and guacamole for a bento box meal your kids will love!
DIY Lunchables (aka Charcuterie Boxes) like these from Family Fresh Meals are always a HUGE hit with kids of all ages! Include whole grain crackers, sliced cheese or a cheese stick,
Homemade Fruit Roll-Ups
Homemade Fruit Roll-Ups – These yummy and healthy Homemade Fruit Roll-Ups make a great addition to your kids lunches – especially with those homemade Lunchables above!
Mini Pizza Bites
Mini Pizza Bites are a sure to bring a smile to your child’s face as they open their lunch box!
Nutella and Banana “Sushi”
All it takes to make this tasty Nutella and Banana Sushi from Paging Fun Mums is a whole wheat tortilla, a banana, and some Nutella spread! Change things up and swap out the Nutella for almond butter, cream cheese, or even Greek yogurt for even more delicious and healthy options!
Chicken Pasta Salad Lunch
This Chicken Pasta Salad from I Hate Meal Prep is perfect for school lunches since it tastes just as good cold as it does warm!
DIY Uncrustable Freezer Sandwiches
DIY Uncrustable Freezer Sandwiches – let’s face it, sandwiches are a lunchbox staple, so when you’re pressed for time while packing lunches, these easy freezer sandwiches are a huge time saver! You can even make your freezer sandwiches in other varieties such as tuna or chicken salad, deli meats, and cheeses, too!
Pac-Man Bento Box Lunch
You can even turn one of those Uncrustables into a cute Pac-Man Bento Box Lunch for a cute surprise!
There are so many easy lunch ideas in this collection that you’re sure to find something your child will love!
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Heidi Kundin, the vibrant force behind Happiness is Homemade, has captivated the hearts of millions with her colorful and inspiring approach to crafting, celebrations, and family fun. With 15 years of experience, Heidi’s website has become a must-visit destination for those seeking fresh and engaging ideas. Her warm personality shines through her posts, inviting readers to join her on a creative journey that’s not only fun but also achievable and budget-conscious. As a mother of three, Heidi expertly balances family life and her passion for creativity, proving that with a little imagination and dedication, happiness truly can be homemade!
These are such great after school snack ideas! I am going to try some of these for my kids. They have a pediatric dentist appointment coming up & I want to get them in a good routine of having less sugary snacks. Thanks so much!
Sue Denym says
I’m a boring lunch mom, but maybe closer to Halloween, I’ll surprise my daughter with some of those monster sandwiches! Everything looks so yummy!
I’m looking for new things to make for snacks and the lunch box. I love your ideas! Thanks for sharing and keep up the good work! I’m excited to do some of these with my kids!
Do your kiddos eat these cold or do you have a favorite container that keeps the warm foods warm?
My kids actually prefer room temperature foods in general, but we use Thermos Funtainers or insulated bento boxes on occasion!