Most parents love back to school season because that means you can finally get the kids out of the house and give yourself a break! Plus, who doesn’t love routine? However, back to school season also brings on a lot of work such as preparing the dreaded lunches. Navigating what to make for lunches can be frustrating especially if you have picky eaters.
Rest assured, we have searched for the best lunch ideas and recipes that your kids are going to love! These aren’t your average boring sandwich recipes either. Here are 30 creative and delicious lunch ideas you should make this year.
Do your kids turn their noses up at a ham and cheese sandwich? Whip up a batch of these delicious ham and cheese pinwheels and they’ll be sure to come home with an empty lunch bag.
You’ll be happy to discover that this easy lunch comes together in minutes! Plus, it only requires 4 simple ingredients. This recipe also provides you with tips and tricks on how to customize them to your child’s liking.
https://sweetpeaskitchen.com/ham-and-cheese-pin-wheels/ PHOTOS AND RECIPE HERE: SWEET PEA’S KITCHEN
What better way to dive into fall than to serve your little ones delicious mini pumpkin pancakes. Your kids will be surprised to find pancakes in their lunch and will surely be delighted to dig into this lunch.
These pancakes have a light and fluffy texture and to achieve the pumpkin flavor all you’ll need is a can of pumpkin puree. Prepare a batch of these pancakes on the weekend and have lunches ready to go all week!
https://www.momables.com/mini-pumpkin-pancakes-recipe/ PHOTOS AND RECIPE HERE: MOMABLES
Sometimes preparing the most simple lunches is the best route to take. Afterall, palates aren’t fully developed in younger children.
Forget the cheese and salami sandwiches and make these simple kabobs! Your kids will enjoy all the same flavors but in a new and exciting way. Pair the kabobs with healthy carrot sticks and perhaps sliced fruit too.
https://www.familyfreshmeals.com/2019/04/salami-cheese-kabobs-lunchbox.html PHOTOS AND RECIPE HERE: FAMILY FRESH MEALS
You don’t have to whip up a fancy recipe to please your kids. Sometimes all it takes is changing the presentation.
This tutorial explains how you can transform an ordinary sandwich into an animal-shaped one! Your kids will love being surprised by a new animal every day, and you’ll love how easy they are to prepare.
https://glitterandbubbles.com/sandwiches/ PHOTOS AND RECIPE HERE: GLITTER AND BUBBLES
With dairy intolerances and allergies on the rise more and more dairy-free recipes are popping up. Even if your little one doesn’t have an intolerance or allergy they are going to love this mac and cheese!
The secret to achieving that creamy cheesy texture and flavor is to combine butternut squash with nutritional yeast. You’ll feel good about feeding them this type of mac and cheese. Make the recipe and divide the pot into lunches for the whole week or make it for dinner and save the leftovers for their lunch.
http://www.forkly.com/recipes/kids-adult-friendly-vegan-mac-cheese/ PHOTOS AND RECIPE HERE: FORKLY
The great thing about pinwheels is that there are so many variations out there. Your kids are bound to enjoy at least one of them! Instead of ham and cheese, perhaps they would enjoy these delicious chicken taco pinwheels.
This recipe is made with simple ingredients such as cream cheese, taco seasoning, and shredded chicken. There are also few fresh veggies such as diced bell pepper that provide an excellent crunch in every bite.
https://www.dinneratthezoo.com/taco-pinwheels/ PHOTOS AND RECIPE HERE: DINNER AT THE ZOO
Who knew the word pizza and pancakes could be found in the same sentence? This intriguing recipe proves that you can transform traditional pancakes into something new, fun, and creative!
The savory pancake batter is made from biscuit mix and is filled with Italian seasoning, cheese, pepperoni, and a few fresh veggies. Pack the pancakes in their lunches with a cup of pizza sauce for dipping!
https://www.happinessishomemade.net/pizza-pancakes-quick-easy-dinner-idea/ PHOTOS AND RECIPE HERE: HAPPINESS IS HOMEMADE
The next time your kids beg you to drop off take-out for lunch make them these delicious muffin tin cheeseburger cups. They’re even more delicious than a burger from the drive-thru.
A muffin tin will help to create the perfect cups that will hold all the delicious cheeseburger ingredients. Divide the cups into lunch containers and serve with a side of fries or their favorite salad.
http://www.forkly.com/recipes/muffin-tin-cheeseburger-cups/ PHOTOS AND RECIPE HERE: FORKLY
Much like cheeseburgers, chicken and waffles is another intriguing comfort food. While this combination may sound obscure to those that aren’t familiar with it, once you try it you’ll be hooked!
This easy recipe combines frozen mini waffles with frozen chicken fingers to create a fun and exciting lunch! Pack a few sliders for lunch along with fresh veggie sticks.
https://foodfolksandfun.net/game-day-eats-chicken-waffle-sliders/ PHOTOS AND RECIPE HERE: FOOD FOLKS AND FUN
Charcuterie boards are a perfect addition to any party, however, you can’t exactly pack a charcuterie board for lunch. This recipe takes the ingredients and flavors of a charcuterie board and turns it into delicious kabobs.
These kabobs are filled with exciting flavors and offer a wonderful assortment of food. Customize the kabobs to accommodate your child’s taste buds!
http://www.forkly.com/recipes/quick-and-easy-party-pleasing-charcuterie-kabobs/ PHOTOS AND RECIPE HERE: FORKLY
You can never go wrong with mac and cheese. It is loved by both children and adults alike. Instead of throwing leftover mac and cheese into a Tupperware container prepare these mac and cheese cups to create a fun and exciting lunch.
This is a homemade mac and cheese recipe but rest assured, it is super simple. To create the cups all you’ll need is 4 simple ingredients and about 30 minutes of your time.
https://www.thereciperebel.com/baked-mac-and-cheese-cups-gluten-free-video/ PHOTOS AND RECIPE HERE: THE RECIPE REBEL
This recipe puts a fun twist on a classic, peanut butter, and jam sandwiches. Instead of sandwiches, you’ll prepare PB&J pinwheels.
Then, to make this a full meal, slide the pinwheels onto a wooden skewer along with some fresh fruit. Your kids will love eating these kabobs and you’ll be relieved that they didn’t require extra work. Further, if there is a peanut allergy at your child’s school you could simply swap out peanut butter for any seed butter.
https://twohealthykitchens.com/pbj-pinwheel-sandwich-kabobs/ PHOTOS AND RECIPE HERE: TWO HEALTHY KITCHENS
If your kids love corn dogs they’re going to love receiving these delicious little muffins in their lunches! Savory beef hot dogs are engulfed in a buttery cornbread batter and require just 15 minutes to prep.
These corn dog muffins are also freezer-friendly. This means you can make a large batch at once, and save the extras for later. Your kids will be requesting these again and again.
https://www.theanthonykitchen.com/corn-dog-muffins-recipe/ PHOTOS AND RECIPE HERE: THE ANTHONY KITCHEN
Bistro boxes offer variety and are a great way to encourage your kids to eat a healthy, balanced lunch. Starbucks offers several different Bristo boxes and while they are great on-the-go options they do cost a pretty penny!
This recipe proves that you can make your own for a fraction of the cost. Hard-boiled eggs, fresh fruit, whole grain bread, and a peanut spread make up this bistro box. Keep in mind if there is a peanut allergy at your child’s school, once again simply swap for a seed butter instead.
https://www.number-2-pencil.com/diy-starbucks-protein-bistro-box-easy-meal-prep/ PHOTOS AND RECIPE HERE: NUMBER 2 PENCIL
This may be the most untraditional way to eat pizza but your kids will seriously love it. A simple pasta dish is topped with pizza toppings such as shredded cheese and pepperoni slices.
As a bonus, the Instant Pot helps to make this an incredibly quick and easy recipe. This meal tastes even better the next day so go ahead and prepare it on the weekend and divide the contents of the pot into the perfect lunch portions!
http://www.forkly.com/recipes/instant-pot-pizza-pasta/ PHOTOS AND RECIPE HERE: FORKLY
Your kids may refuse to eat a salad for lunch but pack them this delicious cobb salad on a stick and watch them come home happy! These skewers are made with traditional cobb salad ingredients such as hard-boiled eggs, cheese, and of course lettuce.
You can either add leftover chicken pieces or slide turkey deli meat onto the skewers, it’s your choice! Pack the skewers with a side of salad dressing for dipping.
http://www.forkly.com/recipes/drool-worthy-keto-cobb-salad-on-a-stick/ PHOTOS AND RECIPE HERE: FORKLY
Muffins are commonly filled with sweet flavors, however, these lunchbox muffins get a serious makeover and are infused with savory flavors. If you have a hard time encouraging your kids to eat their greens then whip up a batch of these spinach and cheese muffins.
The muffins also contain red pepper, onion, and loads of cheese. Further, the secret to achieving the incredibly savory flavor is to add half a vegetable stock cube to the muffin batter.
https://www.myfussyeater.com/spinach-cheese-savoury-lunchbox-muffins/ PHOTOS AND RECIPE HERE: MY FUSSY EATER
The next time you find yourself with leftover pulled pork be sure to make these pulled pork pastry puffs! They come together quickly and would make a delicious lunch for your kids!
These pastry puffs are also made with simple ingredients such as store-bought puff pastry, cheese, and BBQ sauce. You may want to prepare extra because once you smell this cooking in the oven, you’ll want them for your lunch too!
https://www.plainchicken.com/2019/01/pulled-pork-pastry-puffs-football-friday.html PHOTOS AND RECIPE HERE: PLAIN CHICKEN
Kids love Lunchables, however, the packaged ones from the store are often filled with obscure or unappealing ingredients. You don’t have to take away their favorite lunches but instead, you could simply make a healthier homemade version.
This recipe proves how effortless it is to make your own homemade pizza Lunchables. They’re so quick and easy to assemble which means you’ll have their lunch prepped and ready to go in no time.
https://www.midgetmomma.com/homemade-pizza-lunchables/ PHOTOS AND RECIPE HERE: MIDGET MOMMA
Quiche isn’t only for breakfast! It can make a delicious lunch too. These adorable smiley quiches are perfect bite-sized treats that will fill the bellies of your little ones.
These quiches are filled with eggs, bell pepper, and diced ham. Top the quiche with smile fries and bake them in the oven! They come together incredibly quickly too.
http://www.forkly.com/recipes/smiley-lunchbox-quiche/ PHOTOS AND RECIPE HERE: FORKLY
Here is another enticing pinwheel recipe! These pinwheels mimic the flavors of an Italian Sub. The base layer is made with cream cheese, parmesan cheese, Italian bread crumbs, and chopped red and banana peppers.
The creamy spread is then topped with traditional Italian Sub toppings such as salami, pepperoni, lettuce, and cheese. Make some for your kids and yourself because you’re bound to love these too.
https://tornadoughalli.com/italian-pinwheels/ PHOTOS AND RECIPE HERE: TORNADOUGH ALLI
Chicken pot pies are a family favorite, especially when they come straight from Grandma’s kitchen. However, this savory meal often requires a ton of work. From making the crust to preparing the filling it easily takes well over an hour to prepare.
Thankfully this recipe provides a few excellent shortcuts that transform a traditionally labor-intensive meal into one that is quick and easy. As a bonus, these pot pies are prepared in a muffin tin which means the single-sized portions can be easily packed away for lunches.
https://thesweetteaspoon.com/2019/06/17/muffin-tin-chicken-pot-pies/ PHOTOS AND RECIPE HERE: THE SWEET TEASPOON
The simple combination of ham and cheese is now transformed into savory muffins. The muffin batter is filled with chunks of ham, loads of cheese, and some chives.
This recipe yields 12 muffins which means you’ll have plenty for the entire week! Pack the muffins with carrot sticks, fresh fruit or any of your children’s favorite snacks.
https://www.thekitchn.com/recipe-ham-and-cheddar-lunch-box-muffins-246162 PHOTOS AND RECIPE HERE: THE KITCHN
Send these wonton taco cups to school with your kids and they’ll surely have a fiesta for lunch! The cups are incredibly easy to prepare and come together in less than 30 minutes.
They serve well on their own but you can also pack sour cream, salsa, and guacamole for dipping! Don’t be shocked when the neighborhood kids ask you to make their lunches too!
https://www.confettiandbliss.com/wonton-taco-cups/ PHOTOS AND RECIPE HERE: CONFETTI AND BLISS
Regardless of how many times you make spaghetti, we all tend to make way too much pasta and end up with tons of leftovers. While this isn’t a bad thing, plain old’ spaghetti can get old quickly.
This fun recipe puts an intriguing twist on spaghetti and turns them into delightful nests. Along with leftover spaghetti, all you’ll need is 3 additional ingredients. Divide the nests into lunch containers and serve with a side of fresh veggies!
http://www.forkly.com/recipes/leftover-spaghetti-nests/ PHOTOS AND RECIPE HERE: FORKLY
Homemade cheesy breadsticks come together with flavors of pizza to create one exciting lunch! They require 6 simple ingredients and only 20 minutes from start to finish.
They’re so easy to prepare you could even encourage your kids to help you. They’ll feel proud that they were able to make their lunch and they’ll love biting into them even more.
https://iwashyoudry.com/cheesy-pepperoni-pizza-sticks/ PHOTOS AND RECIPE HERE: I WASH YOU DRY
This recipe puts another fun twist on a traditional ham and cheese sandwich. Instead of a sandwich, your kids will enjoy ham and cheese in a flakey homemade pocket.
While these homemade pockets do require a bit of work, you’ll feel good about feeding them to your children. Further, this recipe yields 8 pockets. They’re also freezer-friendly so go ahead and double the recipe so that you can have extras on hand.
https://sallysbakingaddiction.com/homemade-ham-cheese-pockets/ PHOTOS AND RECIPE HERE: SALLY’S BAKING ADDICTION
These pancake muffins would be an excellent option for on-the-go breakfasts, however, they would be a great addition to lunch too! Prepare the simple pancake batter and then add your kid’s favorite toppings! Some great options are chocolate chips, cooked bacon, or fresh berries.
The muffins are also freezer-friendly. Make a large batch on the weekend, meal prep for the week and then freeze the rest for later.
http://forksandfolly.com/2015/07/pancake-muffins-recipe/ PHOTOS AND RECIPE HERE: FORKS AND FOLLY
Bento boxes are another excellent lunch idea that offers an assortment of flavors and ingredients. This recipe provides you with instructions on how to prepare the turkey club roll-ups as well as how to assemble the bento box.
Other great additions to this bento box are a hard-boiled egg, fresh veggies, and fruit. The best part is that this entire meal comes together in just 10 minutes.
https://www.skinnytaste.com/bento-box-turkey-club-roll-ups/ PHOTOS AND RECIPE HERE: SKINNY TASTE
These budget-friendly ravioli dippers are sure to please even the pickiest eaters! They have a lovely crispy outer layer that is surprisingly baked and not fried.
Your kids will love that they don’t have to eat yet another boring sandwich and their friends are bound to beg for these too. Toss them in a lunch container along with a little cup of pizza sauce for dipping.
http://www.forkly.com/recipes/oven-baked-ravioli-dippers/ PHOTOS AND RECIPE HERE: FORKLY