Boring kids' lunches are criticized more than a professional chef's cooking. Whether you're eating at home or packing the kids' lunches for school, these 101 lunch ideas for kids at home or school offer tasty options to please the pickiest palettes.
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Soups for Kids' Lunches
1. Alphabet beef soup
A can of alphabet soup can't compare with mom's home cooked alphabet soup.
2. Chicken noodle soup
Warm chicken noodle soup sneaks in carrots, peas and celery.
3. Potato and ham soup
Kids won't feel like they've had a bowl of soup when you add potatoes, ham and cheese.
4. Beef noodle soup
Make this soup tonight and tomorrow's lunch is finished.
5. Wendy's chili
Chili is an easy option for the lunch thermos during the winter months.
6. Turkey chili
A lighter chili alternative is a lean turkey chili that uses tomatoes, cheese and beans.
7. Beef stew
Warm their tummies with beef stew. Veggies include potatoes, celery and carrots.
Sandwiches and Wraps for Kids' Lunches
8. Gourmet peanut butter and jelly sandwich
Add a frying pan and butter to the PB&J staple and you've kicked it up to a gourmet treat.
9. Cream cheese and jelly sandwich
This crunchy, sweet sandwich won't be traded in the cafeteria.
10. Pita bread pizza
Kids can fill pita bread at lunchtime to make their pizzas or pre-fill pita bread at home so it's ready to go.
11. Chicken panini
A recipe so delicious, it will become a regular in your kids' lunches.
13. Bacon and tuna spread
For the lunchbox, throw in a cold pack since the spread contains cream cheese and mayonnaise.
14. Egg salad sandwich
Cayenne pepper adds to the flavor of this egg sandwich but it won't make the kids' eyes water.
15. Chocolate peanut butter sandwich
This sweet sandwich will be a welcome find on the kids' plates at lunchtime.
16. Hot ham and cheese sub
For cold school lunches, wait until the sandwich has cooled to add cheese.
17. Ham, cheese and peach sandwich
When the kids get tired of the peach flavor, switch it out for another of their favorite jams.
18. Grilled peanut butter and banana sandwich
Maybe the King had it right all along. Put a spin on peanut butter by adding thinly sliced bananas.
19. Low calorie pulled pork sandwich
Serve these up for dinner and send the leftovers to school the next day.
20. Sloppy Joes
Always a favorite with kids, Sloppy Joes can be ready in 25 minutes.
21. Fruit sandwich
Get kids to eat cottage cheese with a dried fruit, Swiss and brown bread combination.
22. Cheese spread sandwich
Make a homemade cheese spread based on your family's personal tastes. Substitute the white wine and hot sauce with water, white grape juice or apple juice.
23. Chicken salad with apples and cranberries
Serve on a plate or as a sandwich. Grapes can be used instead of cranberries. Chop the grapes into tiny pieces for younger eaters.
24. Artichoke cheese dip
This dip doubles as a sandwich spread. The cheese will keep kids from turning their noses up at the thought of eating artichokes.
25. Philly cheese steak
Add lots of protein to the kids' diets. Tastes great even without the peppers!
26. Cream cheese roll up
Easy for mom. Yummy for the kids. Roll up the ingredients in a tortilla and you're done.
27. Roast beef roll up
Turn deli meat into a roast beef roll up. Skip the horseradish if the kids don't like the kick.
28. Chicken crescent roll up
Stuffed crescent rolls are easy to eat. Leave out the cayenne red pepper sauce for younger kids.
29. Ham and turkey wrap
Give kids a nutritious lunch that won't have their bellies rumbling before 4 p.m. Substitute arugula for iceberg lettuce to tone down the taste.
30. Pizza wrap
Add anything kids like to these tortilla pizza wraps.
31. Turkey avocado wrap
The words "avocado" and "kids" can go together and this fast recipe is one they'll gobble up.
32. BLT wrap
Cream cheese, tomatoes and ranch are some of the stars in this BLT wrap.
Hearty Dishes for Kids' Lunches
33. Homemade ravioli
Fill a thermos with the ravioli to keep them warm in school lunches.
34. English muffin pizza
These are so easy to make and kids never get tired of eating them.
35. Bean and cheese quesadilla
The bean and cheese mixture can be added to a hot thermos so kids can prepare fresh quesadillas in less than a minute.
36. Cheese quesadilla
Kids of all ages love this recipe. Only a few ingredients are needed.
37. Mini meatball sliders
From tots to teens, tiny meatballs prepared with Rice Krispies and a bite-sized piece of cheese will be a big hit.
38. Gluten-free macaroni and cheese
Mac 'n cheese is no stranger to a kids' menu. This recipe makes enough to freeze for future lunches.
39. Beanie weenie casserole
The classic campfire dish can be served at the kitchen table or, for school, put a hot pack in an insulated lunch box so it will stay warm.
40. Spaghetti with meatballs
Kids love spaghetti and meatballs but it's often overlooked as an easy lunch.
41. Turkey tacos
For school, use tortillas if you make the tacos at home. Or, put the meat in a small thermos and let the kids fill hard-shell tacos at school.
42. Veggie pot pie
Try a pot pie that promises you won't miss the meat.
43. Stuffed hamburgers
Kids get a great burger without the mess of cheese, bacon and mushrooms falling onto their laps.
44. Honey chicken kabobs
Kabobs for kids! Keep the veggies warm to retain that freshly-grilled taste.
These burrito ideas vary your kids' lunches with a few changes in ingredients.
46. Vegetable lasagna
Kids won't be able to tell they're eating zucchini and mushrooms. They'll just know the lasagna's good.
47. Mini sausage quiches
Quiches for kids? Of course! Reduce some of the quiche's kick with mild sausage and don't add in the red bell pepper, garlic or hot sauce.
48. Low fat chicken nuggets
Trade fatty fried chicken nuggets for lower-fat baked nuggets without missing the taste. Add homemade honey mustard for a dipping sauce.
49. Grilled chicken quesadilla
These quesadillas are excellent hot or cold. For school, the grated cheese can be added at lunch.
50. Tuna tacos
Step away from the tuna sandwich routine and give tuna tacos a try. Easy to eat at home or at school.
Lunch Ideas for Kids: Side Items
51. Baked tortilla chips
Skip the fatty bags of chips! Low-fat tortilla chips taste better and cost less.
52. Potato chips
Make your own potato chips with a lighter cooking oil for a healthier option.
53. Baked sweet potato fries
Your kids will never eat fast food french fries again! Low fat sweet potatoes are baked and ready in 30 minutes.
54. Cheese crackers
Add cheese crackers as a side or use them with veggie dips.
55. Gluten-free heart crackers
Bake herb crackers for the kids. Serve them with cheese, dips or alone.
56. Soft pretzels
Make pretzels with a recipe so simple, the kids can help out.
57. Creamy cheese pretzel dip
Combine sour cream, dry ranch and cheddar cheese for an easy pretzel dip.
58. Tomato salsa for kids
Salsa and tortilla chips can be added to any lunch and salsa's good for the kids too.
59. Vegetable dip
This quick and easy recipe stirs up a veggie dip that goes well with breadsticks or crackers.
60. Ants on a log
Peanut butter, raisins and celery give this side a sweet, nutritious crunch in every bite.
61. Apple and nut salad
A salad with Granny Smith apples, Swiss cheese and hazelnuts blend flavors kids can't refuse.
62. Waldorf salad for kids
The kids won't know this salad is healthy unless you tell them.
63. Carrot salad
If your kids have rejected carrot salad in the past, sweeten the deal with pineapple, raisins and honey.
64. Kids salad with Goldfish crackers
This salad with Goldfish crackers may just turn your kids into leafy-green lovers.
65. Honeyed fruit salad
Combine pears, peaches, kiwifruit, cherries and more into a beautiful, sinfully-sweet fruit salad. Substitutes for white wine include water, white grape juice or apple juice.
66. Mustard potato salad
Pair this side with almost anything. For school lunches, add a cold pack to the lunchbox.
67. Banana macadamia nut bread
This addition to your kids' lunches gives them the grains they need and the sweet they crave.
68. Peanut butter banana bread
Preschoolers can eat this bread all by themselves. It's not too sweet, but the kids will feel like they're cheating by eating dessert first.
69. Cherry orange nut mix
Choose a nutty but sweet mix over salty chips. Switch out the fruits your kids don't like for the ones they do.
70. Trail mix
Chocolate chips, granola, peanuts, raisins, coconut ... whatever the kids eat will work well in trail mix.
71. Cheesy potato skins
Serve the kids a baked potato they'll actually eat with two cheeses on top of these potato skins.
73. Hard-boiled eggs
A hard-boiled egg is great for lunches because it tastes good and it's packed with protein.
74. Yogurt dip for fruits
Toasted cumin gives the yogurt dip a unique flavor the kids will love.
75. Cheese plate
Little fingers can't resist a cheese plate. Serve alone or with crackers.
Lunch Ideas for Kids: Desserts
76. Blueberry cheesecake bites
Tiny blueberry cheesecakes go well on a preschooler's menu because they don't require a fork.
77. Doughnut muffins
Do the kids love doughnuts? This low-carb recipe doesn't have the high fat and calories of regular doughnuts.
78. Fruit and yogurt smoothie
Adapt this recipe to your child's favorite fruits. Blend with yogurt and milk and voila!
79. Fruit yogurt salad
If you've got a "me do it!" kid in your house, fruit yogurt salad lets them prepare their own dessert after you cut up all of the fruits.
80. Fried apples or pears
The best part about fried fruits is kids can eat them hot or cold.
81. Homemade applesauce
Stop paying for applesauce at the grocery store. Make your own with four ingredients ... and one of them is water.
82. Chocolate-dipped mango
Sweet and spicy flavors come together for a dessert that's part healthy, part naughty.
83. Copycat Twinkies
Generations of kids have opened their lunchboxes to find Twinkies inside.
Homemade Twinkies give you 12 copycats to serve to the kids.
84. Candied pineapple
If a sugar rush doesn't scare you, give the kids sweet, candied pineapples.
85. Fortune cookies
Embarrass your kids with an "I love you" in the middle of the cafeteria. Say it in a fortune cookie!
86. Peanut butter chocolate chip cookies
Serve up smiles with a recipe that combines two of kids' favorite ingredients.
87. Chocolate-dipped crescent hearts
These crescent roll cookies are shaped into cinnamon-flavored hearts and dipped in semi-sweet chocolate.
88. Oatmeal cookies
Feed the kids a wholesome dessert you'll feel good about giving them.
89. Sugar cookies
This is the perfect cookie to bake with your kids because you can leave them plain or decorate your masterpiece.
90. Orange snowballs
Not a baker? No problem. Orange snowballs are no-bake cookies you and the kids can make together.
91. Apricot balls with chocolate
Chocolate hides the apricot inside for a sweet surprise. Try other fruits for a twist on the recipe.
92. Strawberries in puff pastry
This isn't your typical dessert for kids' lunches. But it will quickly top their most-requested list.
93. Strawberry cheesecake pie
Make the family a strawberry cheesecake pie and you've made tomorrow's lunch dessert.
94. Strawberry soup
Soup for dessert? Take a look and you'll see why this soup's best for your kids' dessert and not as a starter.
95. Carrot pudding
This combo of carrots, nuts and raisins is a rich twist on your ordinary pudding.
96. Peach bread pudding
Serve a warm dessert that's a treat all year long. Throw in a hot pack for school lunches.
97. Dark chocolate truffles
Try this decadent truffle that's fun to prepare with kids because they can get their hands in the recipe as they shape each one.
98. Coconut macaroon truffles
You'll have to stop yourself from scarfing down these truffles long enough to put them in your kids' lunches.
99. Watermelon pie
Get the kids ready for summer with a low-fat, no-bake pie. Chill before serving or keep cool in your kids' lunchboxes.
100. Ricotta chocolate cake
This rich cake will satisfy the sweet tooth without sending the kids into a sugar overload.
101. Easy lemon cake
Easy lemon cake is bursting with lemon flavor. But it's toned down enough that it won't make your kids' faces twist with sourness.