When lunch time rolls around, I often feel stuck. My children would eat peanut butter sandwiches every day and think nothing of it. They love them, but I get bored. I need easy ideas for healthy lunches that I can put together quickly and without a lot of thought.
If you have been lacking inspiration for kid-pleasing lunches that will also make momma’s tummy happy, check out this list of quick but healthy lunches.
Quick ideas for lunch
Macaroni Smiles – Scoop macaroni and cheese on a plate. Cut a cooked hamburger patty in half and place on one side for the smile. Dot with ketchup if desired. Finish the happy face with celery slices or black olives for the eyes and a carrot stick for the nose.
Pita Pizza – Spread pizza sauce over a pita round. Add any combination of toppings and finish with cheese. Microwave for 30 seconds on high. Allow to rest for about one minute. Cut into wedges and serve.
Stacker Snack Plate – Pull together any combination of foods from each of the food groups. Allow the children to create “stackers” on crackers.
Chicken Noodle Soup – If you have cooked chicken and homemade chicken stock in your freezer, then you are halfway there. Bring the stock to a boil and add peas and carrots and noodles. Stir in the chicken. Cook until the pasta is done and serve.
Funny Faces – Using pita or a tortilla as the base, give children peanut butter, pretzels, raisins, marshmallows, and fruit slices to make their own silly faces.
Spaghetti with Meatballs – Not just for those mid-week dinners, save leftover spaghetti for a quick lunch too.
Super Sandwich – A sandwich can be more than peanut butter and jelly. Stack up vegetables like sliced cucumber, tomato, and avocado with your choice of meat and cheese. Toast the bread for an added crunch.
Tuna Salad Pita Pocket – Pita pockets are just neat because you can add whatever combination of goodies that your child loves and it breaks the boring bread habit.
Stuffed Baked Potatoes – Whether your children love chili, bacon, or broccoli and cheese, pop some scrubbed spuds in the microwave and then stuff them with your favorite toppings.
Chef Salad – On a bed of greens, add diced ham, a hard-boiled egg, cheddar cheese, tomato, and cucumber.
Caprese Bagel – Over a think layer of cream cheese on your favorite type of bagel, layer slices of tomato and some shredded mozzarella. Broil until the cheese is melted and then sprinkle with chopped basil. (I have a ton of ideas for topping bagels.)
Tacos – If you have leftovers, just place beef in the shells and pop them in the oven to heat through. Or just heat the meat and serve your tacos like a salad.
Meatball Subs – In a hotdog bun, place cooked meatballs, pasta sauce, and a sprinkle of mozzarella.
BBQ Chicken on a Bun – Shred leftover chicken and toss with barbecue sauce. Serve in a baked potato with cheddar cheese or on a whole grain bun.
Savory Muffins – Instead of a fruit-filled muffin, make them more savory with broccoli and cheese or pepperoni and tomato.
Wrap It Ups – Whether making pretend sushi with peanut butter and jelly or just trading in bread for a tortilla, serve a wrap for lunch.
Grilled Cheese & Tomato Soup – A classic favorite, grilled cheese with warm tomato soup can be cooked in just a few minutes.
Quick Quesadillas – Sprinkle cheese and chopped vegetables on a corn or flour tortilla. Microwave for 30 seconds and allow to rest for about a minute. Fold and cut into triangles.
Bean Burritos – Spread mashed beans on a tortilla. Add cheese, vegetables, and/or ground beef. Roll up and microwave or toast in a skillet.
The Englishman – Top an English muffin with sliced cucumber and cheddar. Have the Englishman travel south by using smoked turkey breast and guacamole instead. Send the Englishman to Hawaii by using ham and pineapple.
Mix N Match Lunch Ideas
Create a healthy and simple lunch by mixing up the following ingredients to make something special, create a muffin tin meal, or just a snack plate.
- Sandwich bread
- English muffin
- Flat bread
- Dry cereal
- Graham crackers
- Animal crackers
- Whole grain crackers
- Tortilla chips
- Vegetable chips
- Peanut butter
- Lean ham
- Beef franks
- Tuna salad
- Boiled eggs
- Roast beef
- Egg salad
- Bean soup
- Chicken noodle soup
Fruits and Vegetables
- Dried fruit
- Any raw vegetables
- Any fresh (whole) fruit
- Sliced pineapple
- Fruit salad
- Salad greens
- Cole slaw
- Green beans
- Baked potatoes
- Corn of the cob
- Pea pods
- String cheese
- Packaged yogurt
- Yogurt parfait
- Greek yogurt dip
- Cheese cubes
- Cream cheese spread
- Cottage cheese
- Fig cookies
- Chocolate chip granola bars
- Rice Krispie Treats
- Oatmeal cookies
Keep this list of healthy lunch ideas inside your kitchen cabinet as a quick reference on busy days.
More ways to plan lunch for kids
If you still need more easy lunch ideas, check out these additional resources for more inspiration:
- See the list of gluten-free lunch ideas for filling your picnic basket.
- Bagels do not need to be boring. Check out the ultimate list of ways to top your bagel.
- Make snack time special with festive, fall snack ideas.
- The essential list of easy but healthy snacks is a great place to go for side dish ideas and mid-afternoon munchies.
- Encourage your picky eater to try new foods with a free printable.
- Subscribe to eMeals and get a Healthy Lunch Plan each week, complete with shopping list and recipes.