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50 Packable School Lunch Ideas


Don’t sweat school lunch! Get fresh ideas from our huge list of healthy, simple, and packable lunches. Print the list with my free printable to hang on your fridge!

Also check out our huge school lunch photo gallery with 90+ complete kid lunches.

collage header of 50 packable school lunch ideas with 4 quadrants of lunchbox photos

Packing a school lunch: how hard can it be? Slap together a sandwich, add a piece of fruit and some baby carrots, and you’re done. Easy, right? At least in September, it’s that easy.

But a month or two into the school year, packing lunches starts to feel like a slog. The food starts to come back uneaten. Your kids are complaining about their umpteenth turkey sandwich on wheat. And most troubling of all, there’s no end in sight.

Don’t sweat it. And avoid the lunch-packing burnout with our huge list of packable school lunch ideas to keep you ticking all year long.

healthy gyro in a lunchbox

Tips for Packing School Lunches

Plan Ahead and Prep

This is SUCH a sanity-saver. You can pack the entire lunch the night before and put it in your fridge. Or you can prep pre-portioned items that are easy to grab in the morning. Some examples are:

  • Snack size veggie bags
  • Sliced apples with a little lime or lemon juice
  • Dips in small containers
  • Make sandwiches and freeze them in individual containers

Have a Variety of Healthy Choices

Kids can get tired of the same foods after a couple of weeks. Vary the foods you have for lunches by buying smaller portions or making different recipes and rotating every few weeks. You can also cut fruits and veggies in different fun ways to mix things up. Here are some ideas:


  • Snap peas
  • Bell pepper cut into strips
  • Celery sliced thin
  • Cucumber rounds
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Carrot sticks or coins


  • Melon balls
  • Strawberry halves
  • Kiwi slices
  • Berries
  • Grapes
  • Apple slices
  • Applesauce pouches

Sides + Snacks

chicken salad pita with cucumbers and grapes in a lunchbox

50 Packable School Lunch Ideas

  1. Homemade lunchable: crackers + cheese + deli meat
  2. Pinwheel sandwich: tortilla + cream cheese + turkey + provolone cheese + lettuce
  3. Soup in a thermos + roll
  4. Chopped salad with chopped veggies, boiled eggs, deli meat
  5. Veggie-packed pizza rolls
  6. Muffins with a cheese stick
  7. Waffle sandwich
  8. “Finger Food” lunch: trail mix, cheese cubes, and raw veggies
  9. Homemade protein bar + fruit
  10. Egg muffins
  11. Bean and cheese burrito
  12. Tuna and crackers
  13. Pita Pizza Pocket: shredded cheese + marinara + pepperoni
  14. Slider on a hawaiian roll
  15. Pasta salad
  16. Energy Bites + veggie sticks
  17. Egg salad sandwich
  18. Chicken nuggets in a thermos to stay warm
  19. Guacamole + salsa + tortilla chips
  20. Pasta and meat sauce in a thermos
  21. Chicken salad wrap
  22. Nut butter + fruit sandwich
  23. Cheese quesadillas with guacamole
  24. Pizza kebabs 
  25. Homemade “Uncrustables” 
  26. Ham and cheese roll up
  27. Homemade pretzel bites with cheese sauce
  28. Cheesy spinach bites
  29. Homemade hot pocket
  30. Turkey club wrap
  31. Veggie lunch wrap
  32. Yogurt and granola with berries
  33. Bagel sandwich with turkey and cheese
  34. Banana bread with a hard-boiled egg
  35. Quick Mac and Cheese in a thermos
  36. Pita with hummus + veggies
  37. Rice cakes with nut or seed butter
  38. Taquitos or flautas
  39. BLT sandwich
  40. Chili in a thermos
  41. “Bistro Box” with fruit, veggies, cheese, crackers, and hummus
  42. Buffalo Chicken Wrap
  43. English muffin pizza
  44. Lunchbox taco salad
  45. A thermos of Homemade Spaghettios
  46. Apple and cheddar grilled cheese
  47. Tuna salad wrap
  48. Pizza lunchable: mini naan + marinara + pepperoni + shredded mozzarella
  49. Cucumber and cream cheese sandwiches
  50. The easiest packed lunch of all: leftovers from dinner

Free Printable!

More Tips and Ideas for Packing School Lunches

Natalie Monson

I'm a registered dietitian, mom of 4, avid lover of food and strong promoter of healthy habits. Here you will find lots of delicious recipes full of fruits and veggies, tips for getting your kids to eat better and become intuitive eaters and lots of resources for feeding your family.

Learn More about Natalie

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What suggestions do you have for keeping the grilled cheese and quesadilla from getting hard? Do you wrap in foil or keep in thermos? I’ll have to try the waffle sandwich idea! Similar question though on your recommendations for packing it. Thx!

Hi Linda! Every kid is different, but we find that ours aren’t that particular about the temperature or texture of these foods that are usually eaten hot, but are served cool in a lunchbox. I do know some parents have tried putting non-liquids in thermoses to keep them cool, so you could certainly try that, too. 🙂

Thank you for sharing! I hope you will continue to have great articles like this to share with everyone!

We adore these ideas thank you. Do you have any recommendations for keeping relevant foods chilled and thus safe for lunchtime? I use a little cooler and 2 ice bricks which are very heavy for my little one. We live in Asia so things get steamy!! Thanks.

Hello! Could you link the metal container you’ve put some of the delicious food above in?

Hi Cheryl, great idea! We went ahead and added a printable. You should see it at the bottom of the post now.

i don’t have kids in school till next year but love this list for new ideas for us! Is there any way to print it off so I can put it on the fridge??

I really appreciate the ideas and recipes for kids’ lunches, however my son is gluten free and dairy free. Some GF, DF suggestions with the recipes would be really great!
Gluten and dairy allergies/intolerances are very common, so I know I’m not the only mama needing these accommodations. Thanks!

We know that it can be difficult navigating dietary restrictions. We’ll keep this in mind when making future posts. You can also use our recipe search function for GF and DF recipes. Thanks so much for sharing your feedback!