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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. Get the free printable at the bottom of the post.

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

50 packable school lunch ideas

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.

Before we get to the list, we’ve got two tips for packing lunches:

First, do your best to include a fruit and a veggie with every packed lunch. Consistency wins!

Second, try packing lunches the night before school. This is SUCH a sanity-saver. The lunches stay fresh in the fridge overnight, and you don’t have to scramble around in the morning to get lunch packed before everybody has to rush out the door.

Now, to the lunches!

50 Packable School Lunch Ideas

  1. Cream cheese and deli meat pinwheels.
  2. Tomato soup in a thermos with grilled cheese
  3. Kid-friendly green salad topped with chopped eggs and/or deli meat
  4. Veggie-packed Pizza Rolls
  5. Muffins with a cheese stick
  6. Waffle sandwiches with cream cheese and raisins, or PB and Jschool lunch idea waffles and peanut butter jam
  7. “Finger Food” lunch: trail mix, cheese cubes, and raw veggies
  8. Egg salad sandwich
  9. Lemony Quinoa with Spinach, Feta, and Beans
  10. Bean and cheese burritos
  11. Tuna and crackers
  12. Homemade “Lunchables” with crackers, meat, cheese, a fruit, and veggie
  13. Quick pita pizza
  14. Egg and cheese sandwich on a whole wheat roll
  15. Pasta saladpasta salad lunch idea
  16. Peanut butter and jelly on leftover pancakes
  17. Egg cups
  18. Chicken nuggets
  19. Cold bean salad with vinaigrette and tortilla chips
  20. Pasta and meat sauce in a thermos
  21. Leftover Butternut Squash Soup in a thermos.
  22. Almond butter and honey sandwich
  23. Cheese quesadillas with guacamole
  24. Pizza kebabs pizza kebabs lunch idea
  25. Homemade “Uncrustables” 
  26. Ham and cheese inside leftover crepes
  27. Meatballs on toothpicks
  28. Cold sesame noodles and veggies
  29. Black bean and turkey salad
  30. Chicken salad wrap
  31. Veggie Lunch Wrap veggie wrap lunch idea
  32. Yogurt and granola
  33. Turkey, cheese, and spinach on a bagel
  34. Banana bread with a hard-boiled egg
  35. Quick Mac and Cheese in a thermos
  36. Pita filled with hummus and shredded cheese
  37. Rice cakes with nut or seed butter
  38. Spring rolls
  39. BLT
  40. A thermos of chili
  41. “Bistro Box” with fruit, veggies, cheese, crackers, and hummus
  42. Buffalo Chicken Wrap
  43. English muffin pizzas
  44. Lunchbox Taco Salad
  45. A thermos of Homemade Spaghettios
  46. Apple and cheddar grilled cheese
  47. Tuna salad in a whole wheat hot dog bun
  48. Brown rice balls
  49. Cucumber and cream cheese sandwiches
  50. The easiest packed lunch of all: leftovers from dinner veggies and hummus in pita lunchbox

Free Printable!

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!