Your kids are going back to school, and now it's your time to shine to become the mom who packs the best lunch! These recipes can serve to kids aging anywhere from kindergarten up to high school, and each one can be modified in different ways. Some are intended for little kids with a picky palette, while others are intended for older kids who can handle more intense flavors.
Bottom line: The more creative you can get with lunch ideas, the better! Kids love to eat things that are fun and exciting — this is especially helpful when they have a hard time getting in fruits and veggies in their diet. So get ready to make the tastiest, healthiest and overall "awesomest" back to school lunches!
1. PB&J Sushi: These fun and little peanut butter sushi-styled sandwich rolls are perfect for a packed lunch! Use whole wheat bread and reduced sugar jelly and/or all-natural peanut butter, if possible. Our PB&J sushi recipe is a lunch box necessity. Click here for the recipe!
2. Waffle Ham and Cheese: Need to get rid of some leftover waffles? Use them to make a ham and cheese sandwich! Re-heat the waffles on a nonstick skillet or cast-iron pan over medium heat and continue cooking as if you were making a grilled cheese sandwich. Click here for the recipe!
3. Waffle Pizza Pocket: This recipe only takes 10 minutes to prep and only 5 minutes to cook. If you are in a pickle and need to make something fast, this recipe is great to use! Use soft whole-wheat bread for best results. (via Food Network)
4. Banana Dog: Maybe your kids are sick of seeing the same old boring peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in their lunch, or maybe you're out of whole-wheat sandwich bread. This recipe uses hot dog buns to hold a banana for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich makeover. Lots of protein and potassium in this tasty treat — click to see the recipe!
5. Pizza Puff Pinwheels: Pizza lovers will go crazy for these tasty pinwheels! Easy to make and great as leftovers too! Click here to get the recipe.
6. Watermelon PB&J: This creative sandwich recipe uses bread, peanut butter, strawberry jelly, raisins and green grapes. Great to use for packed lunches earlier in the school year, or near the end towards summer. Fun fact: This recipe was featured in Family Fun Magazine! Click here to see.
7. Sandwich Kabobs: Kabobs are an easy way to combine healthy and simple ingredients together in a clean and appetizing arrangement. Include other ingredients such as fruit to the skewer for added tastiness. Click here to see!
8. Meat, Cheese and Veggie Wraps: Simple, healthy and crustless! Wraps are great for kids who are picky about eating all parts of the bread, and are an easy way to sneak in vegetables. Click here for the recipe.
9. Tuna Salad and Crackers: Some canned tuna companies make lunchbox sets that include a pocket of tuna, a packet of mayo, a baggie of crackers and a mini spoon for serving. Ditch that for this recipe that helps you make one from home! It's healthier, cheaper and will go great in your next packed lunch. Click here to see!
10. Grilled Cheese Cat: If your kid loves grilled cheese and complains about having a boring lunch, try using this recipe as an inspiration to make your sandwiches more exciting! This grilled cheese cat uses bread, cheese, pretzels and raisins to create this animalistic sammie. Click here to see.
11. Monkey Sandwich: Kids love animals and food — combine the two and there is no doubt that your child will go bananas over seeing this cute monkey sandwich in their lunch! As usual, try using all-natural peanut butter and reduced-sugar jelly. Click here for recipe and directions.
12. Apple Slice Snacks: These healthy bites use apples, nuts, chocolate chips and peanut butter, which, most can agree, is a very tasty combination! If packing in a lunch, try to pack the ingredients in separate containers and preserve the apple slices as best as possible. Click here to see.
13. Fairy Dust: Any child who obsesses over fairies, glitter and princesses galore will devour these pretty treats in a heartbeat. Fairy bread is a fun and colorful way to make your kid's packed lunch more enjoyable. Click here for the recipe. We suggest using whole-wheat bread and natural peanut butter, of course!
14. Skinny California Roll Wrap: This recipe uses crab meat which is an acquired taste (and probably enjoyed by older kids). If you're a fan of Cali sushi rolls, you will love this recipe! Click here to get our recipe!
15. Breakfast Burrito Bites: Using egg, peppers and tortilla, this recipe is super simple to make and is great for kids who enjoy breakfast food! Aim for whole wheat tortilla and sneak in as many bell peppers as possible (via Super Healthy Kids)
16. Pot Pie Muffin: Whip out your muffin tin to make these savory, mini pot pies. The recipe only uses five ingredients and the directions are fairly simple. If your family loves a good ol' fashioned pot pie, you must try this! (via Super Healthy Kids)
17. Mexican Muffin: Need to get rid of your taco night leftovers? Not a problem! This recipe uses ingredients from your taco night to make tasty Mexican muffins! For added cuteness, dress up the muffins with mozzarella cheese and olives to make them look like animals (via Super Healthy Kids)
18. Cubano Dog: Jazz up your hot dog with ham, mustard and pickles for a tasty meal! Super simple to make and puts plain hot dogs to shame. Click here to see the recipe!
19. Copycat Chick-Fil-A Sandwich: Make your own rendition of Chick-Fil-A's chicken sandwich with this recipe! It's way healthier and tastes amazing. Click here to get this awesome recipe!
>> Read more: Fast Food Under 500: Chick-Fil-A
20. Tomato soup: Tomato soup is an acquired taste for many kids, but if yours happens to be a fan, try this recipe out for a quick and easy way to make a delicious bowl. Store in a thermos and direct the child to re-heat during lunch time. Click here for the recipe.
>> Like that recipe? Make it tastier by pairing it with a homemade Cheez-Its recipe! Sprinkle on top of a warm bowl of tomato soup and enjoy!
21. Take to School Taco Bar: This is a great way for your kid to be in charge of how they want to eat their lunch (if they are picky about ingredient arrangements). Make it as healthy as possible by adding in lots of veggies, reduced-fat sour cream and reduced-fat cheese (via Food Network)
22. Peach and Ham Grilled Cheese Sandwich: Our peach and ham grilled cheese sandwich is so delicious and satisfying for any packed lunch! The sweetness of the peaches makes this sandwich unique — try it out! Click here for our recipe.
23. Panko Crusted Chicken Nuggets: Skip the deep fryer and make chicken nuggets using panko bread crumbs instead! It's healthier and tastier than pre-made frozen chicken nuggets, and can be enjoyed immediately or the day after cooking (via Food Network)
24. Fruit Leather Roll Ups: Need something sweet and colorful to add in your lunch? Fruit leather roll ups are super tasty and are enjoyed by many kids. Pre-packaged fruit leather snacks are loaded with artificial sweeteners and preservatives; use this recipe to make them at home yourself! Click here to see.
25. Pear and Avocado Sandwich: The sweetness of the the pear and the creamy, buttery-ness of avocado pair well together on a sandwich. Keep the avocado spread as ripe as possible by squeezing a little bit of lemon juice on top. Click here to see.
26. Apple, Cheddar and Turkey Sandwich: This recipe is great for those who don't mind fruit being added in their meat-filled sandwich. Panini grilling is highly recommended but not mandatory. Click here to see the recipe!
27. Honey, Almond Butter and Banana Sandwich: Almond butter and honey taste amazing together on a fresh slice of whole-wheat bread. Add in slices of banana for added nutrients and natural sweetness to create this delicious lunch item. Try it out!
28. Egg Salad Sandwich: If your child likes egg salad sandwiches, this recipe is perfect! Nothing too crazy or overwhelming — just your average, simple egg salad sandwich that tastes great with a pickle on the side. Click here to get the recipe.
29. Skinny Black Bean and Corn Quesadilla: Our black bean and corn quesadilla tastes amazing with a side of salsa and reduced-fat sour cream. Super tasty and definitely worth making for your next lunch. Click here to see our recipe!
30. BLTA Wraps: Any kid who loves bacon will dive right into this loaded wrap in seconds upon opening up their packed lunch! This is a definite must-try recipe! Click here to check it out.
31. Spaghetti Pies: Ready for some spaghetti? Time to take out that muffin tin again to make mini spaghetti pies. This recipe is a great opportunity to get creative with making a variety of pies, but nevertheless, tastes great in a packed lunch! Serve with fruit and you're good to go. Click here to see.
32. Ham and Cheese Croissant: Love ham and cheese, but have never shied away from sandwich bread? Mix it up by serving it on a croissant instead! This simple ham and cheese recipe is delicious and can be enjoyed by a range of eaters (via Martha Stewart)
33. Homemade Spaghetti Os: Canned spaghetti and meatball or ravioli is just bad news — spare yourself the artificial ingredients and preservatives by making this recipe at home. Better than the name brand, and way better for your health! (via Chocolate Covered Katie)
34. Ham and Cheese Apple Wraps: This recipe uses wraps to delicately combine apple, ham and cheese in your packed lunch. Kids love wraps because they're easy to eat and they don't leave a big sloppy mess. Click here to see the recipe.
35. Bagel Pizzas: Bagel pizzas are super easy to make and they can be enjoyed by a wide variety of eaters. They're convenient to make when you don't have much time to cook anything else, and they taste great as leftovers. Click here for the recipe.
36. Submarine Lunch: This blogger is an example of how creativity is beneficial when packing your kid's lunch! Not only will they be more motivated to eat what's in the lunch bag, but they'll think you're the coolest mom ever for making something exciting! Get the recipe here.
37. Mini Grilled Cheese and Tomato Bites: Grilled cheese lovers will love this recipe! Everything you love about grilled cheese in a savory and miniature bite that can be packed in lunches, and takes little effort to make? You must try it. Click here to see!
38. Impossibly Easy Mini Cheeseburger Pies: These little cheeseburger bites are tiny bites of paradise. Super easy to make and super addicting. Click here for the recipe.
39. Grilled Cheese Roll Ups: Another grilled cheese recipe that is great for packed lunches! These are rolled up in a clean arrangement, and are perfect for dipping into a little cup of tomato soup. Get the recipe here.
40. Corn Dog Muffins: These corn dog muffin bites are perfect for packed lunches because they're small, delicious and can be paired with healthy sides! Click here for the recipe.
41. Mexican Pizza: Leftover pizza is a classic packed lunch item. This recipe can be made the night before for dinner and reused the next day for lunch. Regardless of when it's made, it's delicious and easy to make (via Hint of Joes)
42. Mini Tuna Balls: These tuna balls are a great way for your kid to get their daily omega-3s and protein in! Serve with fruit and crackers and enjoy! Click here for the recipe.
43. Mac n Cheese Muffins: Mac n cheese is a simple meal that can be stretched in many ways. This recipe turns them into tasty muffins that are cooked to maximum deliciousness and packed into kids' lunches. Click here to see.
44. Homemade Nacho Lunchable: Skip the Lunchables and make your own! This recipe makes a healthier and more satisfying rendition of the unhealthy lunchbox meals that are sold in grocery stores — click here to see the recipe.
45. Skinny Pizza Wrap: Love pizza and love wraps? Our skinny pizza wrap is easy to make and can be modified to satisfy a range of eaters. Try it out for your next packed lunch! Click here for our recipe.
46. Peanut Butter Banana Protein Wrap: Whether it's eaten in the morning, afternoon, or mid-evening as a snack, our peanut butter banana protein wrap recipe is super healthy and can be a tasty addition to your packed lunch. Click here to see.
47. Apple Cinnamon Raisin Grilled Cheese: This apple cinnamon raisin grilled cheese recipe takes grilled cheeses to a new level. The cinnamon raisin bread pairs amazingly well with the melted cheese and apple slices, and overall, makes it the most delicious grilled cheese ever. Get the recipe here.
48. Flatout® Delicious Blueberry Cinnamon Roll Ups: Power to the tartiness and tastiness of blueberries! Our cinnamon roll up recipe is great for either breakfast or lunch and is loaded with healthy, added ingredients. See the recipe here.
49. Healthy Veggie Wrap: This recipe makes vegetables taste amazing! Wrapped in low-carb whole-wheat tortilla and smothered with hummus, this is waiting to be packed in your kids next lunch! (via The Skinny Fork)
50. French Toast Sticks: Who says breakfast food can only be enjoyed in the morning? Make these simple French toast sticks and pack them in your kid's lunch with a side of fruit and small serving of syrup. This recipe is very sweet and satisfying for any breakfast food lover! Click here to see.