Dumplings. Ham and cheese quesadillas. An apple variety that doesn’t brown when sliced. And 97 more homemade and store-bought healthy lunch ideas perfect for the school year ahead.

By Joy Howard
Dane Tashima

The formula for a balanced lunch is foolproof: Choose one main, a fruit and/or veg, and a side or dessert. What's not so foolproof? Keeping things interesting every day of the week.

Enter our biggest list of school lunch ideas ever. Keep it handy, and enjoy instant inspiration every time you pack a meal for your kids—or yourself!

Main Dish Lunch Ideas

Build your child’s lunch box around an easy, appealing dish that’s packed with protein or fiber. Both keep kids full.

1. Premade dumplings + soy sauce

2. Ham + pineapple mini skewers

3. Soba noodles + chopped veggies + sesame dressing

4. Hummus + sliced cucumber on whole-wheat bread

5. Sliced and cooked kielbasa or veggie sausage + mustard

6. Deli turkey + pesto + Swiss cheese on whole-wheat bread

7. Store-bought smoked tofu sticks

8. Salami + pickles + mayo on a mini bagel

9. Cream cheese + sliced cucumber + sesame seeds on a rice cake

10. Black beans + shredded cheese + salsa in tortilla-chip cups

11. Chicken soup with tortellini

12. Baby bell peppers stuffed with tuna, egg, or chicken salad

13. Veggie burger cut into wedges + green-goddess dressing

14. Stuffed grape leaves

15. Whole-grain waffles + orange slices + maple syrup

16. Turkey meatballs + tzatziki

Store-Bought Main Dishes

17. Yummy Spoonfuls Turkey Spinach Bites

18. Banza Chickpea Rice (serve with peas and Parm!)

19. Kween Granola Butter (nut-free!) on whole-wheat bread

20. 2 Peckish Boiled Eggs & “Everything” bagel spices

21. Chicken of the Sea Infusions (serve tuna with cooked pasta and chopped fresh veggies)

Leftover Pasta Main Dishes

22. Spaghetti + pesto + pine nuts

23. Penne + diced cheddar + salami + bell peppers + a splash of olive oil and red-wine vinegar

24. Rice noodles + shredded carrots + cooked corn or peas + sesame oil

25. Elbow macaroni + goat cheese + lemon zest + chopped sugar snap peas

26. Orzo + cucumber + cherry tomatoes + feta + a splash of olive oil and balsamic vinegar

Kid-Friendly Main Dish Recipes

27. Chicken and Apple Slaw

28. Caprese Sandwich Sticks

29. Smoky Ham and Cheese Quesadillas

30. Sweet-Potato Empanadas

Dane Tashima

Veggie Sides for Lunch

Even self-declared veggie haters sometimes eat them at school. Take advantage with these craveable ideas.

31. Sweet-potato fries

32. Roasted chickpeas

33. Raw orange and/or purple cauliflower florets

34. Snow peas

35. Halved radishes with butter + salt

36. Iceberg squares + buttermilk dressing

37. Kale chips

38. Good Foods Plant Based Dips (Try the avocado pesto flavor!)

39. Edamame + soy sauce + sesame seeds

40. Baby bell peppers

41. Blanched asparagus + ranch dressing

42. Pickles

43. Cherry or grape tomatoes

44. CuteCumber Poppers Snack-Sized Cucumbers

45. Roasted broccoli florets + grated Parmesan cheese

46. Rainbow carrots cut into coins

47. Made in Nature Veggie Pops

48. Store-bought tabbouleh

49. Jicama sticks with lime juice

50. Sugar snap peas + celery

Fab Fruit Options for Lunch

For most kids, fruit rules! And in our opinion, a lunch box without it is barely a meal. Nothing beats the yumminess factor and the fiber, vitamins, and minerals that produce brings to the party.

51. Pineapple dusted with cinnamon

52. Dried apricots

53. Rainier cherries

54. Cotton Candy grapes

55. Mango sprinkled with unsweetened toasted coconut

56. Bare Fruit Chips

57. Dole Spoonable Smoothies

58. Cara Cara oranges

59. Sliced Asian pear rubbed in lemon juice

60. Arctic apples (nonbrowning!)

61. Mixed fresh berries

62. Freeze-dried strawberries

63. Baby bananas

64. Melon balls

65. Fresh or dried figs

66. Sliced plumcots (a cross between a plum and an apricot)

Dane Tashima

Healthy Desserts for Lunch

Healthy ingredients should make up the bulk of every lunch, but including a small treat is a surefire way to bring on a smile. These sweets are all the right size, and none have too much added sugar.

67. Kashi by Kids Organic Super Food Bites

68. Nature’s Bakery Oatmeal Crumble bar

69. Yogurt pretzels

70. Fortune cookies

71. Rule Breaker Bites

72. This Bar Saves Lives

73. Quinn Peanut Butter Filled Pretzels

74. Fig cookies

75. Clio Greek Yogurt Bar

76. Cascadian Farm Organic Fruit Infused Bars

77. Kodiak Cakes Bear Bites

78. Crispy rice treats

79. Dark chocolate–covered raisins

80. Zucchini or banana bread

81. Cinnamon graham crackers

Fruity Desserts

82. Strawberries + chocolate hazelnut spread

83. Pear wedges + chopped walnuts + a drizzle of honey

84. Apple wedges + almond butter + crushed graham crackers

85. Blueberries + lemon curd

86. Half a banana + mini chocolate chips

87. Plain Greek yogurt + pomegranate seeds

88. Plain Greek yogurt + dark-chocolate chips + dried cranberries

89. Plain Greek yogurt + sliced banana + a swirl of fig preserves

Dane Tashima

Lunch Snack Ideas

Round out a midday meal with a satisfying snack.

90. Popcorn sprinkled with nutritional yeast (for a cheesy flavor)

91. Lightly salted pepitas

92. Pitted olives

93. Seaweed snacks

94. Bean-based tortilla chips

95. Plantain chips

Fun New Store-Bought Snacks

96. Babybel Mini Rolls

97. Barbeque Cheddies

98. Blue Diamond Almonds + Fruit

99. Triscuit Wheatberry Clusters

100. Country Archer Mini Beef Sticks

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