37 Celebrity Chef-Inspired School Lunch Ideas

Ham, Cheese & Pretzel Pinwheel with Orange Creamsicle Dip
Courtesy of Juicy Juice
Picky kid? Nut-free school? Slow eater? Celebrity chefs forked over 35 simple ideas that take the stress out of packing.
Peter Ardito
Peter Ardito

Jeffrey Saad

Dad of Sebastian, 12, and Isabella, 15; host of Cooking Channel's United Tastes of America; and author of Jeffrey Saad's Global Kitchen: Recipes Without Borders

Apples & PB (core a small apple, spoon 2 Tbs. peanut butter in middle)

Back to Nature Harvest Whole Wheat Crackers

Leftover broccoli

Peter Ardito
Peter Ardito

Leftover ham (or low-salt deli ham) in whole-wheat pita with shredded carrot and zucchini tossed in vinaigrette

Blueberries

Surf Sweets natural Gummy Bears

Peter Ardito
Peter Ardito

Creamy shells (leftover pasta with milk, butter, and juice from canned tomatoes microwaved until hot; put in thermos)

Cucumber slices

Peach

Peter Ardito
Peter Ardito

Half a BLT: lettuce, tomato, and leftover turkey bacon on whole-wheat bread (bit of mayo with a dash of smoked paprika for flavor)

Baby carrots and ranch dip

Clementine

Peter Ardito
Peter Ardito

Egg-salad wrap (chopped leftover hard-boiled egg and chopped
bell peppers tossed in vinaigrette; roll up in an 8-inch tortilla)

Sliced pears with lemon juice

Terra Sweet Potato Chips

Peter Ardito
Peter Ardito

Ming Tsai

Dad of David, 10, and Henry, 12; host of PBS cooking show Simply Ming; author of four cookbooks; and owner of Blue Ginger restaurant, in Wellesley, Massachusetts

Turkey Sloppy Joe on slider bun (keep meat warm in a thermos)

Apple wedges

Cucumber slices

Peter Ardito
Peter Ardito

Ramen noodles (minus the seasoning pack) in chicken broth with veggies

Rice crackers

Plum

Peter Ardito
Peter Ardito

Turkey, lettuce, and Dijon mustard pinwheels on a whole-grain tortilla

Baby carrots

Vegetable chips

Peter Ardito
Peter Ardito

Lettuce wraps with grilled teriyaki chicken and carrots

Air-popped popcorn

Mandarin orange

Find out what kids are really eating in school-and what gets dumped in the trash.

Peter Ardito
Peter Ardito

Soba-noodle salad

Bell pepper strips and ranch dip

Kiwi

Peter Ardito
Peter Ardito

Josh Capon

Dad of Amanda, 6, and Max, 3; guest judge on Food Network's Chopped; and executive chef of Lure Fishbar and B&B Winepub, in New York

PB&J heart-shaped sandwich on whole-wheat bread

Baby carrots

Banana with silly sticker

Peter Ardito
Peter Ardito

String-cheese stick

Rolled-up turkey lunch meat

Fruit kabob (cut off pointy end)

Whole-grain crackers

Peter Ardito
Peter Ardito

Tuna-fish sandwich stars

Blueberries

Edamame in shells (more fun to pop!)

Peter Ardito
Peter Ardito

Oatmeal with brown sugar and cinnamon

Green-bean letters

Applesauce cup

Peter Ardito
Peter Ardito

Brown Spanish rice and ground beef in a thermos

Tortilla chips

Green grapes

Healthy eating is the foundation of a healthy life. Here is how you can raise nutrition-smart kids.

Peter Ardito
Peter Ardito

Marcela Valladolid

Mom of Fausto, 8, and host of Food Network's Mexican Made Easy

DIY tostada: shredded chicken, cheddar cheese and refried beans, and 2 corn tortillas

Peter Ardito
Peter Ardito

Grilled-chicken sandwich with mayo

Guacamole for dipping sliced cucumbers, jicama, and carrots

Peter Ardito
Peter Ardito

Tortilla soup in a thermos

Corn

Grapes

Peter Ardito
Peter Ardito

Veggie and black-bean burrito on whole-wheat tortilla with salsa

Watermelon wedges

Peter Ardito
Peter Ardito

Half an egg-salad sandwich on whole-wheat bread

Roasted cherry-tomato and mozzarella salad in olive oil-balsamic vinaigrette

Melon slice

Peter Ardito
Peter Ardito

Tyler Florence

Dad of Dorothy, 4, and Hayden, 5; host of Tyler's Ultimate on Food Network; and creator of Sprout, a line of organic baby and toddler foods

LUNCH MENU

Tortellini salad (cook pasta; add peas in last 2 minutes; toss with pesto)

Peach

Small tossed salad

Peter Ardito
Peter Ardito

Goat cheese and grape jelly sandwich on a small cinnamon-raisin bagel

Nectarine

Raw sugar snap peas

Peter Ardito
Peter Ardito

Half a sunflower-butter and banana sandwich on whole-wheat bread

Low-fat fruit yogurt

Grape tomatoes

Here are some healthy lunch ideas that kids will love.

Peter Ardito
Peter Ardito

Soup (heat rotisserie chicken, broth, pasta, and veggies for 15 minutes)

Animal crackers

Raspberries

Peter Ardito
Peter Ardito

Rice balls (cook short-grain rice; roll with chopped cooked veggies into 1-inch balls)

Pineapple

Raisins

Here are three things to avoid when reading nutrition labels.

Peter Ardito
Peter Ardito

Andrew Zimmern

Dad of Noah, 7; host of Travel Channel's Bizarre Foods; and author of the upcoming Andrew Zimmern's Field Guide to Exceptionally Weird, Wild, and Wonderful Foods: An Intrepid Eater's Digest

Pork salad

Cucumber sticks with yogurt-dill dip

Fruit salad

Peter Ardito
Peter Ardito

Pasta salad

Roasted broccoli

Berry and vanilla yogurt

Peter Ardito
Peter Ardito

Chicken-salad sandwich with grapes, scallions, and celery on roll

Cheese stick

Dried peaches

Peter Ardito
Peter Ardito

Chili in a thermos

Mini corn muffin

Pineapple chunks

Iain Bagwell
Iain Bagwell

Bonus recipe: Parents advisor Elisa Zied, R.D, recommends this yummy chicken & brown rice soup.

Peter Ardito
Peter Ardito

Leftover meat loaf on a roll

Santa Cruz Organic applesauce cup

Leftover steamed asparagus

Courtesy of Juicy Juice
Courtesy of Juicy Juice

Jeff Mauro

Dad of Lorenzo, 9; co-host of the Food Network series "The Kitchen" and official Juicy Juice Flavor Expert.

Baked Potato Chip-crusted Chicken Tenders: Chicken tenders, marinated in mustard sauce then coated in crushed BBQ chip and baked until crispy.

Served with mango dipping sauce: Dipping sauce made with Juicy Juice 100% Mango Juice, honey, mustard, and mayo.

Tip: Turn the chicken tenders into a new lunch the following day—Chicken Tender Club wrap—just add lettuce and tomato.

Courtesy of Juicy Juice
Courtesy of Juicy Juice

Ham & Cheese & Pretzel Pinwheel: Smoked Ham, butter lettuce, and crushed pretzels, laid flat and rolled up tightly into a fun pinwheel that is cut up into medallions.

Orange Creamsicle Dip: Juicy Juice 100% Orange Tangerine, Greek yogurt, honey, and vanilla extract—served with vanilla wafers, sliced apples, pretzels.

Share the gallery



Parents may receive compensation when you click through and purchase from links contained on this website.