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15 Healthy, Kid-Friendly Lunch Ideas [Infographic]

Elle Penner, MPH, RD
by Elle Penner, MPH, RD
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15 Healthy, Kid-Friendly Lunch Ideas [Infographic]

Just in time for the kids to head back to school, here is a guide with 15 healthy, kid-friendly lunch ideas for a nutritious start to the school year!

Back to School Lunch Guide - 15 Healthy, Kid-friendly Lunch Ideas

About the Author

Elle Penner, MPH, RD
Elle Penner, MPH, RD

Elle is a nutrition and wellness writer, recipe developer, blogger and nutrition consultant whose favorite things include her camera, carbs and quality time with her toddler. For more from this busy mama, check out Elle’s lifestyle blog or connect with her on Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook.


36 responses to “15 Healthy, Kid-Friendly Lunch Ideas [Infographic]”

  1. Avatar Sally says:

    These are great, but what about meals that have no way to be warmed? I have 4 teen boys and making sure they eat healthy during the day is challenging! These solutions look great

  2. Avatar Kali says:

    Is there a printable version to these ideas?

  3. Avatar Skoots1mom says:

    Where are they…I click and get nothong…

  4. Avatar elle says:

    This has got to be the worst Healthy Kid Lunches ever. Really salmon at lunch? At school? All these are great if you ate lunch at home but not good ideas for school lunches.

  5. Avatar monimona says:

    These aren’t very helpful. I didn’t get past the first section because what “kid” eats SALMON wraps?! And the Fiesta wrap has almost no protein with exception to the beans and cheese. I’d like my 5 and 8 yr old kids to be satiated after lunch, not hungry after recess.

    • Avatar Aj says:

      I still don’t eat salmon so I agree with you there. However, the beans and cheese provide plenty of protein.

    • Avatar Tricia says:

      My kid. If your kid doesn’t like salmon that doesn’t mean others don’t. Sorry, not sorry. There aren’t any meals on here your kids would eat? Then don’t complain, move on.

      • Avatar monimona says:

        So because your opinion contradicts mine, I shouldn’t express mine? You must be a delight! And spare me your trendy clichés “sorry not sorry.” Grow up.

        • Avatar QuoVadisAnima says:

          Express your opinion – just stop implying that yours is everyone’s, as you did, and stop being so offensively rude about it. And then taking offense upon discovering that you’ve offended someone, instead of maturely acknowledging your mistake & apologizing for it.

    • Avatar Kim says:

      Actually my 15 year old athletic son loves the cans of smoked salmon. Not sure he’d take it to school though because of the strong smell. Love the recipes you posted – could add humus to many wraps to add a little extra oomph!

    • Avatar Hallie Pasch says:

      Lotsa of wonderful ideas. I appreciate all the ideas for those whose families eat a variety of food, including fish. There are great gluten free & dairy free options too for kids who need it. We use a gluten free tortilla. Thanks!

  6. Avatar Sherry Tharnish says:

    What kid has access to microwave at school?

    • Avatar Aj says:

      I never did. Maybe it’s for lunch during summer break?

    • Avatar Tricia DeCamp says:

      Some kids do and if you read through all the directions it says “or serve cold”

      • Avatar Sherry Tharnish says:

        LOL.. Tricia, You are the reason I usually choose not to comment on anything online. I can’t stand the stupidity in the replies from the people who have nothing better to do than reply to everyone’s opinion. Monimona’s comments were spot on about this article. Salmon wraps are not something that most people would recommend for a school lunch as MOST children would not enjoy them. Also, feel free to make your poor child eat cold mac & cheese & cold spaghetti for lunch just because someone tells you that you can. Oh, and if you read through all the directions the only one that says “enjoy cold” is the mini pizza. Sorry, not sorry..

        • Avatar monimona says:

          It’s self righteous nuts, unhappy with their own life, that feel the need to negatively comment on an opposing opinion because it makes them feel smarter in their small world. Comment anyway, Sherry. Not everyone is as close minded as the delightful Trish.

          • Avatar Prime Alpha says:

            To both of you. Monimona made a very “general comment” which is not specific to her children. This generics may affect what other people think of this article. Tricia’s comment, a little rude, but clear. Be specific to your children, like she did with hers. She never said not to comment…just move on..means apply what is best for you! If you make generic rude comments refering to this article, by all means then do articles yourself to help others, maybe..and just maybe…you can do better. Also, when making statements such as “MOST” kids won’t like this or that, what you are really doing is making an unsubstantiated remark (I see no statistics here). Looking it with another perspective, is it not your job as parent to teach your kids how to eat healthy and better than, if it is the case, MOST kids?


          • Avatar QuoVadisAnima says:

            Thank you – that these people are being snarky and negative about the article & author while being all offended about others finding their comments to be so is just absurd in its irony, not to mention hypocrisy. The restraint in your response is admirable!

        • Avatar anne says:

          A good quality thermos keeps food hot until lunchtime. I microwave the food, so it’s hot going into the thermos. It’s nice and warm at lunchtime! A tip for the thermos is to rinse with hot water right before filling; keeps food hot.

    • Avatar Denise Lucas says:

      I pack all manner of hot food for my grade schooler in a wide mouth stainless steel thermos. Reheated leftovers stay piping hot in it until his lunch time.

  7. Avatar Aj says:

    I read this with myself in mind. Lately (the last ten years or so) I haven’t been feeling like eating the yummy healthy things I pack for my lunch. I’m looking forward to trying some of these ideas!

    Though I don’t know how many children would like these recipes.

  8. Avatar Rebecca says:

    What an amazing presentation, my kids are all grown,I really don’t think they would have liked some of the food selections here, but this presentation really isn’t about that now is it. I am thankful for the creative ideas for my lunches, I travel frequently and am so tired of eating unhealthy food. These are things I can make for my trips and stick in my cooler.
    Frankly I’m not a salmon fan, but I love the creative ideas…thanks so much!!!

  9. Avatar Rebecka Jochum Miller says:

    my daughter would not touch half of these with a 10 ft pole

  10. Avatar Kim says:

    Thank you for this timely article full of ideas. After the first 2 days of school my daughter came home and had not eaten her turkey and cheese sandwich which was really the only protein in her lunch. She has decided she no longer likes bread. I had bought her a lunch bento box over the summer but just had not thought of anything to put in it yet. Your multitude of ideas really got me thinking. I’m going to let her help me populate the boxes, mine have only 3, with a protein, vegy and fruit. Thanks again for the timely article – very helpful!

  11. Avatar Sara says:

    I make this mac and cheese and spaghetti for my kids school lunch often. I send it to school in a thermos to stay hot. The Mac and Cheese I add extra milk when heating so it stays hot longer in the thermos.

  12. Avatar Kirst says:

    Just once I’d like to read an informative presentation and not have to read snarky comments & fights between viewers in order to get to the constructive discussion posts. So sad, I thought this site was for adults. Ashamed…

  13. Avatar Misfit says:

    My kids are grown but would have loved a few of these while growing up for a school lunch. I am now taking notes for myself as my Dr is on me to try healthy eating. The Fiesta Wrap caught my eye to try. 😉

  14. Avatar Shanna says:

    Any ideas for a kindergartner who only has 15 mins to eat? These are great, but time consuming or banned (nuts & nut butters). I’ve been sending snack items for his little fingers to open like pirates booty, grapes, string cheese… Etc. but I’m sure that’s going to get old. Any ideas would be helpful!

    • Avatar Heather Skinner says:

      Mandarin oranges, yogurt and granola, pepperoni pizza wraps, cream cheese and fruit wraps, pepperoni sticks, beef or turkey jerky, corn and veggie corn bread muffins, individual meatloafs(use a muffin tin, perfect size) , olives, strawberries filled with cream cheese, Apple sauce packs, scrambled eggs(in a soup thermos), mini pizzas on English muffins. I work at a daycare and these items are easy for the kids to eat in a hurry.

    • Avatar Matt says:

      My two boys both have peanut and tree nut allergies. So there goes peanut butter. Luckily, there are several non-nut-containing alternatives. The boys’ favorite is sunflower seed butter. Other options are a soy-based imitation, and tahini (ground toasted sesame seeds). All of these are readily available at any medium-sized or larger grocer. They’re pricey, of course, but sooooooo worth it.

  15. Avatar Brandy says:

    Wow thanks so much for the great ideas! My 9 year old is loving them, particularly the salmon wrap, yep he’s a salmon kid, the egg box and the taco box! Some days I’m making doubles for myself.

  16. Avatar Ola says:

    This is perfect for home but clearly not for school . Today it is a strong NO NUT policy in every school and no peanut butter will be allowed .

  17. Avatar Nikki says:

    I know this is meant for kids but I found the wrap & lunch box ideas useful because I have run out of ideas for a ‘packed lunch’ I get bored easily. Thanks for this 🙂

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