10 Tasty Packed Lunch Ideas for School Aged Kids

Running out of ideas for your child’s packed lunches? Are they getting tired of the same sandwiches over and over again? Our Strong4Life registered dietitians have put together 10 tasty (and healthy) combos to help you get out of your packed-lunch rut.

Whether you’re packing for camp or school, preparing balanced meals for your children doesn't have to be difficult. Get inspired to change things up!

School packed lunch with veggie pasta salad, melon and hard-boiled eggs

Cold pasta salad is a great option to make with leftover ingredients, or it’s easy to make ahead of time and feast on all week. Choose whole-wheat pasta for the extra fiber that helps keep your child fuller, longer.

  • Pasta salad:
    • Whole-wheat pasta
    • Italian dressing
    • Cherry tomatoes
    • Lightly cooked broccoli (fresh or frozen)
    • Lightly cooked green beans (fresh or frozen)
    • Cheese
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs
  • Melon

Homemade lunchable for school

Sure, kids love those prepackaged mini-meals, but there’s not much to love about the processed foods that are loaded with sodium and other preservatives. If your child asks for a prepackaged lunch, offer to make a homemade one of their very own.

  • Low-sodium turkey
  • Cheese
  • Whole-wheat crackers
  • Cooked green beans (fresh or frozen)
  • Apple slices
  • Nut or seed butter

Chicken and guacamole packed lunch for school

One of our favorite time-saving meal prep tips is to buy a rotisserie chicken and make it work for whatever chicken dish you are whipping up. It tastes great on its own and can be a great protein staple in your child’s lunch since it’s still yummy as cold leftovers.

  • Rotisserie chicken
  • A mini guacamole to-go cup (to prevent browning)
  • Whole-wheat pita slices and carrots for dipping
  • Grapes

Nut or seed butter cracker sandwiches packed lunch for school

Who says a sandwich has to be on bread? Change things up a bit with your own nut butter cracker sandwiches (opt for sunflower seed butter if the school is nut free).

  • Nut or seed butter spread on 10 whole wheat crackers to make 5 cracker sandwiches
  • Greek yogurt or cottage cheese
  • Sliced bell peppers
  • Strawberries and blueberries

Deconstructed taco packed lunch for school

Have some leftovers from taco night? Don’t let them go to waste! All of your taco ingredients taste great cold, and your child will have fun putting them together all on their own.

  • Ground turkey or beef with taco seasoning
  • Shredded cheese
  • Tomatoes or salsa
  • Lettuce
  • Mini guacamole to-go cup
  • Watermelon

Tip: Make this meal vegetarian by swapping the ground meat for lentils or beans.

Chicken salad packed lunch for school

If your child enjoys chicken salad sandwiches, try breaking it down. They can make their own sandwich with crackers or have fun dipping the bell peppers into the chicken salad. They might even go wild and make sandwiches with the apple slices. Anything goes with this nutritious combo!

  • Chicken salad
  • Whole-wheat crackers
  • Sliced bell peppers
  • Apple slices

Ham and cheese roll-up packed lunch for school

Deli meat can be featured in your child’s packed lunch without having to resort to a sandwich. This lunch covers all of the food groups, and your child will have fun dipping away!

  • Ham roll-ups:
    • Low-sodium ham
    • String cheese
  • Hummus
  • Celery and pita for dipping
  • Banana

Leftover pasta packed lunch for school

Tortellini tastes great cold, and we find that cold, leftover broccoli actually tastes sweeter the next day. Throw in some meatballs, sauce and fruit, and voila!

  • Tortellini with marinara and meatballs
  • Fruit cup packed in water or 100% fruit juice (not syrup)
  • Cold cooked broccoli

Tip: Make this dish vegetarian by swapping the meatballs for lentils.

Chicken wrap packed lunch for school

The great thing about this meal is that you can use leftover rotisserie chicken to make it extra easy to prepare. Add some ranch dressing to dip the cucumbers or wrap into for an extra touch.

  • Wrap:
    • Whole-wheat tortilla
    • Rotisserie chicken
    • Cheese
    • Spinach/romaine lettuce
  • Sliced cucumbers
  • Blueberries and raspberries
  • Ranch dressing

BBQ chicken packed lunch for school

This lunch idea is a great reminder that simple is more than OK. Not every meal is going to be Pinterest-worthy. Just finding the time and energy to pack your child a nutritious meal earns you a gold star in our book.

  • Cubed rotisserie chicken
  • BBQ sauce for dipping
  • Carrots
  • Pineapple
  • Homemade trail mix