12 Easy School Lunch Ideas That Are Kid & Parent Approved

Send your kids to school with a lunch they'll love so much that they wouldn't dream of trading it for something different.

Updated July 6, 2023
Lunchbox with quinoa salad

A healthy school lunch doesn't have to be time consuming or fancy. A little fun and simplicity go a long way in providing your child with a lunch box meal they can't wait to dig into. These school lunch ideas are fun for your child but still healthy enough to give you peace of mind when you drop your kids off for the day.

Balanced School Lunch Ideas for Busy Mornings

If you're prepping your child's lunch the morning of, you still want something quick, healthy, and kid-approved. Kids will love these creative lunch ideas, and you'll love how little time they require to prepare. The staff at LoveToKnow has even included some of the lunches their kids have loved.

Simple Snack Assortment

This is one of the easiest school lunches to make, and your kids will love feeling like they're having a snack while they're actually eating a balanced meal. Create a snack assortment that meets all of the main nutrition points for a healthy and filling lunch. Look for four to five snack elements that hit nutrition points like protein, healthy fats, energizing carbs, and fruits and veggies. LoveToKnow Editorial Director Carrie shared that her kids loved a mix of cheese cubes, veggies with dip, deli meat rolls, and a cup of fruit.

Lunch box on black background

PB&J Tacos

Take a lunchtime classic and transform it into a fun meal with this quick twist on the beloved peanut butter and jelly sandwich. This PB&J taco recipe shouldn't take any longer to put together than your typical sandwich, but it feels like a special treat for your child.


  • Bread
  • Nut butter
  • Jelly or jam
  • Fresh berries


  1. Grab a large round cookie cutter or a glass jar to cut your bread slices into round "mini tortillas" and discard the crusts.
  2. Spread the nut butter and jelly over the slices, making sure to leave a small amount of space around the bread slice so there's no major spillover when your kid takes a bite.
  3. Fold the bread slice in half, creating that familiar taco shape.
  4. Sprinkle fresh chopped berries - strawberries or blueberries are perfect - into the opening of the "taco" and pack with a side of your child's favorite vegetables or a cup of yogurt.
Need to Know

Make sure your school allows peanut butter in the building or swap for an alternative nut butter.

Mini Bagel Pizzas

Is there anything better than seeing pizza when you open your lunch box? Give your child a little surprise in the middle of their school day with this easy recipe for mini bagel pizzas.


  • 1 plain mini bagel
  • 2-4 tablespoons jarred marinara sauce
  • Shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Mini pepperonis or other toppings your child loves


  1. Split the mini bagel in half.
  2. Spread the marinara sauce on both halves.
  3. Sprinkle on cheese and toppings.
  4. If you have time, toast the bagel pizzas in the oven until the cheese is melted. If not, these still taste great at room temperature.
  5. Pack in the lunch box with veggies, applesauce, or a fruit cup.

Thermos Leftovers

The thermos that came with your child's lunchbox is actually a great way to serve up leftovers and warm foods for lunch at school. LoveToKnow editor Amy says this is the perfect way to send your kids to school with one of their favorite meals. If you have leftovers from a meal your child loves - think pastas, casseroles, and soups - warm them up in the microwave then transfer them to the thermos. They should still be relatively warm by lunchtime so your child can enjoy a hearty and comforting meal.

Easy Sandwich Upgrades

Some kids really love the reliability and simplicity of their favorite sandwich every day for lunch. But, there are easy ways you can upgrade their go-to sandwich to make it healthier, more filling, or just plain fun.

Girl with lunch box sitting on the beach in autumn
  • Skip the bread and use a tortilla instead to create a fun pinwheel sandwich for your child.
  • LoveToKnow Media staff member Nick shared how much his child loved eating sandwiches cut into fun shapes with cookie cutters.
  • Use frozen protein waffles in place of bread to amp up the filling protein points in your child's meal.
  • Cut the sandwich into little bite-size pieces to make it feel more like an exciting snack.
  • Pop the sandwich on a panini press or in your waffle maker to give it an extra-special, crispy crust and melted cheese. You can also make a traditional grilled cheese-style sandwich.
  • Make the sandwich as usual and use fruits and vegetables to make a silly face on the top layer of bread.
  • Use bread options that your kids might find more appetizing than traditional sandwich bread. Sub rolls, slider buns, bagels, and brioche bread are all great options.

Healthy & Fun Make Ahead Lunches

If you like to prepare your kids' lunches the night before, or even a few days ahead of time, try some of these fun and creative lunch ideas. They hit all the health points you want your child to have in a meal while making the presentation and the flavor fun.

Kid-Friendly Salad Jars

If you have older kids who actually enjoy a hearty salad, prepare one in a jar and send them along with a small container of their favorite dressing. You'll want to make sure you include leafy greens, a protein, fruits and vegetables, and a fun topping for texture. Here are a few salad ingredients that kids might enjoy.

  • Grilled chicken strips
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Bacon
  • Ground turkey
  • Tuna or salmon
  • Cooked quinoa
  • Matchstick carrots
  • Cucumbers
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Broccoli tops
  • Tortilla strips
  • Almond slivers
  • Pecans
  • Croutons
  • Shredded cheese
  • Watermelon
  • Strawberries
  • Apple slices
  • Cooked pasta
  • Raisins
  • Dried cranberries

Chicken & Protein Waffles

If your child regularly comes home with an empty lunch box and a seemingly empty stomach, it might be time to crank up the protein in their lunch. This is an easy way to keep them full with a lunch that feels like a real treat.


  • Freezer protein waffles - Kodiak is a kid-friendly brand
  • Frozen chicken tenders
  • Maple syrup


  1. Prepare the chicken tenders according to the package directions.
  2. Toast the waffles.
  3. Layer the waffles and chicken in a deep container or stack them sandwich style.
  4. Pack them alongside a cup of syrup and your child's favorite veggies, a fruit cup, or string cheese.

Baked Egg Cups

LoveToKnow staff writer Heidi recommends protein-packed and delicious egg quiches or baked egg cups to keep your child full. You can prep a batch for the whole week and pack them alongside fresh fruit, cheese cubes, pretzels, or yogurt.

Crispy Baked Wonton Egg Cups with Bacon, Cheddar Cheese and Green Onions

Making egg quiches is really simple and totally customizable to your child's preferences. Simply prepare a muffin pan with nonstick spray and preheat the oven to 350°F. Beat 6-7 eggs in a bowl with a splash of heavy cream. Add in your child's favorite quiche fillings and bake until the egg is no longer runny. Here are some suggestions for filling your baked egg cups:

  • Spinach
  • Broccoli
  • Cheese
  • Pepperonis
  • Ham
  • Bacon
  • Sausage
  • Zucchini
  • Tomatoes
  • Bell peppers
Helpful Hack

A couple of tablespoons of cottage cheese in your egg mixture adds tons of protein and a creamy texture.

Kid-Friendly Charcuterie

If your child prefers a snack-style lunch, a healthy and kid-friendly charcuterie is the way to go. Their favorite deli meats, cheese, crackers, fruits, and veggies feel like a fun snack but hit all of the nutrition points you want them to have for a healthy meal. If you're prepping the night before, use small cookie cutters to create fun shapes with cheese, cucumbers, or pepperonis. You can also add a dip like hummus to make the meal extra fun - kids love dipping all the things.

Breakfast for Lunch

Breakfast is truly a delight any time of day and might make for a fun surprise in your kiddo's lunch box. Use your favorite pancake mix to make pancake muffins packed with fruit. Pack a few alongside yogurt, turkey sausage links, and cup of maple syrup for dipping. You can also make muffins packed with hidden veggies - carrots, zucchini, and pumpkin are virtually tasteless - that your kids will consider a sweet treat during their lunch break.

Quick Tip

Reach for a protein-packed muffin or pancake mix to help your child feel full. Kodiak and Krusteaz are great choices.

Classic Salad Sandwiches

Chicken, tuna, or egg salad sandwiches are all brown-bag classics, but lots of kids love them! Make a healthier salad by replacing mayonnaise with Greek yogurt or mashed avocado. Here's a simple recipe template you can follow with all three of the classic salad mixes.

  • ⅛ cup (more or less to taste) plain Greek yogurt OR 1 mashed avocado
  • 1 can of tuna or chicken or 4-6 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
  • ¼ cup chopped veggies, such as celery, sweet peppers, or minced carrots
  • 1-2 tablespoons chopped sweet pickle, optional

Pack with ½ cup fresh fruit, and 1 cup air-popped popcorn sprayed with olive oil cooking spray and tossed with a teaspoon of cinnamon-sugar or Parmesan cheese.

Taco Bites

Your kids will love these fun-to-eat taco bites that take practically no time to make. You can customize them with your child's favorite taco toppings and pair them with a side of applesauce or fruit for a filling lunch.


  • Bowl shaped tortilla chips - Tostitos Scoops are perfect
  • Shredded chicken, ground beef, or ground chicken (can sub with black beans for a vegetarian option)
  • Mexican cheese mix
  • Salsa
  • Sour cream
  • Additional taco toppings your child loves


  1. Preheat your oven to 300°F and grease a baking sheet with a nonstick spray.
  2. Place your tortilla chips on the pan and fill each one with a tablespoon of meat or beans.
  3. Top with cheese and bake until the cheese is melted
  4. Let the taco bites cool completely before placing them in a container.
  5. Pack with a cup of salsa, a cup of sour cream, and any other taco toppings your child might like.

Pack a Lunch With Love & Fun

Finding meals that you approve of and your child actually enjoys eating might be a bit of a challenge, especially if it needs to fit neatly in a lunch box. But these healthy school lunches are kid and parent approved with tons of ways to make the recipe ideal for your child. Give them a try, get creative, and send your child off with a nourishing lunch that reminds them how much you care.

Start your school kids' days right with these delicious school breakfasts. 

12 Easy School Lunch Ideas That Are Kid & Parent Approved