School Lunch Ideas (Share Your Favorite Tips & Recipes)

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Recently a reader emailed me asking for some cold school lunch ideas. She was getting ready to send her kids to school for the first time, and needed some ideas to get her going.

School Lunch Ideas

While these are school lunch ideas, they would work for children who are home as well. As I was researching for this post, it was a lot of fun to see all the different options that are out there to make lunches fun and healthy too! Below you will find some quick tips and school lunch ideas to get you started!

School Lunch Tips (Before You Get Started!)

  • Make a menu! – As with most things in life, having a plan is the first place to start! Make out a School Lunch Menu, listing what you plan to pack for lunches each day. You will want to do this in advance (before you go grocery shopping), so you make sure you have what you need.
  • Have your containers ready – You don’t want to be all ready to get lunches put together and not have the right containers to use! These containers work great for lunchboxes because they have separate compartments. You can also buy silicone baking cups to use as more dividers to keep foods separate. Having some small containers with lids come in handy as well for foods that need to be sealed shut, such as dips, salads, etc.
  • Prepare ahead of time – Lisa at What Lisa Cooks has some great tips for packing lunches ahead of time. I can see how it would make things so much easier to have lunches prepared ahead of time and in the refrigerator — maybe even the whole week’s worth — instead of scrambling every morning to get it done.


  • Milk
  • Juice (choose juice boxes that have reduced sugar and more real juice!)
  • Water
  • Lemonade (Make this yummy homemade Lemonade and put in a reusable water bottle.)

Main Course/Protein

  • DIY Lunchables (crackers, deli lunch meats, sliced cheese)
  • Tortilla rollups (on a tortilla spread some mayo, mustard, lunch meat, tomato, lettuce, cheese, and roll up)
  • Peanut butter & Jelly Sandwiches (I love this tip to make up a bunch of PB&J sandwiches ahead of time and freeze!)
  • Mini bagels and cream cheese
  • Bagel sandwich (with lunch meats and cheese, lettuce, etc.)
  • Egg salad sandwich (Pack the egg salad in a small container to be dumped on the bread at lunch time.)
  • Tuna salad sandwich (Pack the tuna salad in a small container to be dumped on the bread at lunch time.)
  • Boiled eggs


  • Blueberries, strawberries, or other berries
  • Small banana
  • Apple slices (and a small container of peanut butter!)
  • Grapes
  • Orange slices
  • Carrot sticks
  • Celery sticks (can add some peanut butter inside)
  • Cucumber slices (with maybe some Ranch dip)
  • Applesauce
  • Yogurt


Many of these snacks can be made up ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator or freezer (muffins, banana bread, and cookies).

Share your favorite tips & recipes!

Do you fix school lunches every day during the school year? If so, please share your favorite tips and recipes in the comments! What do you do to make it easier? Please share!

See more ideas on Pinterest!


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  1. We serve homemade soup every day. Some of our kids even eat it cold! :o) On the side they have a half an apple. The soup has protein/veggie. I would think a Thermos would be good for taking soup to public school. Anyhoo- we used to do thousands of pb & j sandwiches. I'm so glad we hit on doing soup!
    1. That's a great idea Eliz! This mom was wanting cold lunch ideas because her kids would not be able to heat anything up at school. But putting hot soups in a thermos would work great!

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