25+ School Lunch Ideas for Kids

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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!

non sandwich lunch ideas for kids

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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!


chicken meatballs in a white bowl on a wood background with colorful striped napkin

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.

Two taco Pop Tart style pockets on a white plate topped with sour cream and salsa

Taco Pockets

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!

two barbecue chicken muffins on a white plate with side of green salad and tomatoes

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.

School Lunch Ideas for Kids - stack of chicken ranch wraps on brown paper background with cilantro leaves

Chicken Ranch Wraps

These Chicken Ranch Wraps from Gimme Delicious use simple ingredients that meld into a delicious flavor combination!

School Lunch Ideas for Kids - cheesy pizza sticks on a plate with a bowl of marinara dipping sauce

Cheesy Pepperoni Pizza Sticks

Cheesy pepperoni pizza sticks are a perfectly portable school lunch idea! Get the recipe from I Wash, You Dry.

hand holding a chicken waffle slider sandwich with melted cheese and bacon

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!

Half of a banana covered with rice cereal on a striped plate

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 mac and cheese muffins stacked up on a polka dot background

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!

School Lunch Ideas for Kids - lunch kabobs of skewered tomatoes, cheese, and deli meat on a white plate

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!

Photo collage showing how to make a bagel pizza with onions and red sauce

Bagel Pizzas

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!

Healthy banana muffins on a white and blue background

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!

Round ham and cheese sandwiches for kids dressed up to look like monsters with olive and pimento eyes

Monster Sandwiches

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!

Stack of mini corndog bites - hot dog pieces in mini cornbread muffins

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 pocket on a white plate

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.

easy strawberry oatmeal bars

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

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.

fruit nutella pancake breakfast kabobs

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 in lunch box container with guacamole and fruit

Cheese Quesadillas

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 cheese and crackers lunch boxes

DIY Lunchables

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,

Four red fruitroll ups on a wood table

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!

13 mini pepperoni pizza bites on a white plate

Mini Pizza Bites

Mini Pizza Bites are a sure to bring a smile to your child’s face as they open their lunch box!

Banana covered in nutella

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 veggie pasta lunch box idea for kid

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!

homemade peanut butter and jelly frozen sandwiches uncrustables mimic

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!

Blue bento lunch box with yellow Pac-Man shaped sandwich, ghost cheese sticks, pretzels, and fruit

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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Check Out These Other Lunch Ideas!

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non sandwich lunch ideas for kids

8 Comments

  1. Love these school lunch ideas! As a mom of two school-aged kids, I’m always looking for healthy and easy options. These ideas are perfect for packing in their lunch boxes and will definitely save me some time in the morning. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Pardon me for not knowing this, but do you heat up the kids lunches before packing them? Don’t they get cold or soggy?

  3. I love these ideas for school lunches! My kids love to pack their own lunches, and I love that they’re getting creative with their food.

  4. 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!

  5. 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!

  6. 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!

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