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Are you in a school lunch rut because your kids are tired of the same old sandwiches for lunch time? Here are 11 new ideas and healthy easy recipes for your kid’s school lunch boxes that are NOT SANDWICHES. 

HEALTHY LUNCH BOX

Whether it’s for school or camp, the idea of packing a lunch bag every day of the week can sometimes be overwhelming or even trivial especially if you have picky eaters at home. As busy parents, we want healthy school lunch ideas that our kids will like and that are also quick and convenient.

Having multiple kids, I can attest to this! Taking into consideration your child’s or their classmates’ allergies or food restrictions can also make packing lunches tough. Last year was the first time we had to deal with that since my daughter was at a nut-free school. I was excited to learn of all the alternatives available for peanut butter, dairy products, and even really tasty meat substitutions. 

For many generations, sandwiches have been an easy go-to for school lunches but it can get pretty boring for kids every single day and doesn’t help expand their growing taste buds. It’s time to think outside of the bread and check out some of the fun lunch ideas I’ve put together for you in this list. 

1. Nuts about Peanut Butter 

Nut butter is made from peanuts, almonds, or cashews and is full of protein. It can be served alone or mixed with other ingredients for dipping. For nut-free lunches, sun butter is a delicious option as it is made from sunflower seeds. Nut and seed butter are considered healthy fats. Use fresh fruit like bananas and apple slices, baby bell cheese, and wafer rolls for dipping. Incorporating a pantry staple like peanut butter makes packing lunches a breeze. 

Peanut Butter Greek Yogurt Dip

banana slices

apple slices

wafer rolls

baby bell cheese 

eanut Butter Greek Yogurt Dip LUNCH BOX

2. Eat More Chicken

With chicken being America’s favorite source of protein, there’s no doubt it would contribute to generating some easy school lunch ideas. Most kids love chicken so it makes a perfect lunch. Chicken meatballs, hibachi chicken bites, chicken nuggets, and chicken salad are all great ideas for no-sandwich lunch box ideas.

Chicken is so versatile and can be served warm or at room temperature. Using leftover chicken from dinner last night or grabbing a rotisserie chicken from your local grocery store, you can come up with lots of delicious lunches. One of our favorites is a BBQ chicken and cheese quesadilla. 

BBQ chicken and cheese quesadilla 

with orange slices 

QUESADILLA LUNCH BOX

3. Grazing Crazy!

Who doesn’t love a good charcuterie board? Many young children look forward to graze boards at get-togethers therefore making them a fan favorite for a packed lunch. Boasting proteins from assorted lunch meat and cheese along with fresh fruits and fresh veggies, homemade Lunchables are an easy lunch idea for kids. These are also a good idea for road trips. Using cookie cutters to make fun shapes out of the food items makes it more fun for them to eat! 

Pepperoni and Salami slices 

sliced mild cheddar cheese 

cucumber slices

dried fruit

round crackers

PEPPERONI AND SALAMI LUNCH BOX

4. Taco Tuesday or Taco Any Day of the Week

Taco Tuesday is always a fun choice but it doesn’t have to be a Tuesday! Tacos are a super versatile and easy menu item that kids will enjoy. Using a bento box lined with cupcake liners to separate the ingredients is a perfect way to pack a taco lunch.

Bigger kids in middle or high school might like assembling their tacos and younger kids can have more constructed items like taco cups, cheese burritos with corn tortillas, or tortilla chips with a layered taco dip. Using refried beans or black beans is a great alternative to taco meat. Beans can be a main dish since they are packed with protein and other great nutrients. Turn taco night into taco day! 

taco cups with meat, shredded cheddar cheese, black beans, and corn  

sour cream taco dip

sweet peppers for dipping

TACO CUPS LUNCH BOX

5. Hot Dogs, No diggity! 

Believe it or not, hot dogs are not as bad as they are made out to be. Hot dogs are a complete protein and are a great option for an easy school lunch idea. They are also proven to put people in better moods. Corn dog muffins and wrapping them in crescent rolls are great ways to add this menu item to a no-sandwich lunch box. Don’t forget to add some fruit or veggies and the condiments!

pigs in a blanket

pretzels 

blueberries and cantaloupe

apple sauce

PIGS IN A BLANKET LUNCH BOX

6. Granola on the go 

Parents are always looking for healthy ideas to feed their children. Granola is a great way to incorporate nutrient-rich foods into their school lunch. Kids love granola because it’s crunchy and sweet. Although it can be intimidating to make homemade granola bars and muffins, most granola recipes only require a few simple ingredients that you probably already have in your kitchen without all of the added sugar of store bought granola items.

Make a big batch of granola muffins and then you have some for school days or a quick snack on the weekends! Don’t worry, there are also many delicious and healthy granola options at the grocery store.

banana granola healthy muffins

string cheese

yogurt smoothie

strawberries 

GRANOLA LUNCH BOX

7. Pizza! Pizza!

It’s pretty rare to hear a child say that they don’t like pizza. Leftover pizza from your local delivery place is perfect if you have it but there are several recipes out there to get a little more creative with pizza for a kid’s lunch box. From canned biscuits to English muffins, your kiddos can have fun making their versions of pizza at home with whatever toppings they like. Add in some cut-up fruits and their favorite veggies on the side and they will be good to go. Pineapple on pizza anyone? 

pepperoni pizza bites made with English muffins

pineapple chunks

yogurt covered raisins

carrots with ranch 

PEPPERONI PIZZA LUNCH BOX

8. Keep calm and eat leftovers

Since most children don’t have access to refrigerators or microwaves at school, sending warm dishes is not always an option. However,  you can purchase a hot food thermos and/or ice pack that will keep foods hot or cold until lunchtime. Insulated containers create many hot lunch choices for non-sandwich lunch ideas. Whether you had leftover Chinese or spaghetti and meatballs, sending leftovers takes the guesswork out of packing a lunch. 

meatballs in a tomato sauce with spaghetti noodles 

cucumbers

fruit snacks

MEATBALL PASTA LUNCH BOX

9. egg-cellent lunch boxes

What came first, the chicken or the egg? We may never know but what we do know is that eggs are a superb food for our growing kids! In my house, we love egg salad with crackers or even a good omelet with some veggies and cheese mixed in. A boiled egg is a great start to some healthy lunch ideas for the school season.

hard-boiled eggs

pita bread chips 

hummus blended with mashed sweet potatoes

fresh mixed berries 

EGG LUNCH BOX

10. pasta -tively delicious

There are a lot of kid-friendly pasta recipes that can be served cold or warm and they will surely be a hit for lunch boxes. Pasta made with whole grains is a way to make this great lunch a little bit more healthy. Adding some chopped bell peppers for crunch and savory diced ham will take a pasta salad up a notch. 

easy kids pasta salad

grape tomatoes

chocolate chip cookie 

PASTA LUNCH BOX

11. Let’s do brunch!

My household loves a breakfast for dinner night as often as possible so why not make it into a yummy school lunch? We already discussed how eggs can be added to a school lunch menu but what about pancakes or waffles? Adding fruit, chocolate chips, or breakfast meat as a topping or while cooking them adds another level of fun and yum! 

pancake sausage bites with maple syrup for dipping

banana

cottage cheese blended with strawberries

cashews

BRUNCH LUNCH BOX

With a little planning and creativity, adding variety to school lunches does not have to be overwhelming or impossible. These 11 no-sandwich, easy, and healthy lunch box ideas that kids will love are a great place to start! 

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