As we get into back to school mode, you might be wondering about ideas for back to school lunches for kids! I’m going to share fifteen easy lunchbox ideas which not only will delight your children but also are simple and inexpensive to prepare!
Looking for more Back to School Ideas
1.) Skip the Sandwich
Who says a packed lunch needs to include a traditional sandwich? Switch things up and instead include one of these simple ideas: meat and cheese cubes, tuna fish and crackers, chicken nuggets, mini hot dogs, pizza dippers, bagel and cream cheese and turkey, and more! Your main entrée could also be breakfast-related, like pancake bites and mini smoked sausages or a savory egg muffin!
2.) Googly Eyes
Adding silly googly eyes of all sizes to literally everything in your child’s lunchbox will be the delight of their lunch table! Imagine them opening their lunchbox to see their lunch items looking right back at them. So fun, right?! Grab a package of them in the craft section of your favorite store and simply stick the adhesive-backed eyes on It’s SO easy but will have quite an impact!
3.) Heat It Up
Whenever we think of sack lunches, we naturally gravitate toward cool, refrigerated meal options. Expand your thoughts and increase the heat with these fun ideas which can be kept warm in an insulated container: chicken nuggets (Check out our secret for making them stay fresh, here!), macaroni and cheese, soup, pizza rolls, hot ham, and cheese crescent roll-ups, hot dogs, and meatballs. I love this Thermos to keep my kiddos’ lunches warm!
4.) Mix-Up the Menu
We all get in a rut sometimes when it comes to menu planning, don’t we? I have gathered a TON of my favorite school lunch menu ideas to share with you in this FREE downloadable School Lunch Menu Idea Sheet printable. There are SO many out of the ordinary ideas, so you will never have to think about what to pack in your child’s lunch! This idea sheet is an exclusive preview of our Back to School Planner for Busy Moms, which you can also download here!
5.) Grab and Go
When it comes to packing lunches, creating a bin storage system so you can grab and go while you pack will help you save time each week! Both in the fridge and in the pantry, color-coded or labeled bins will help you organize the different elements of your child’s lunches. If the storage bins are at child-level, your children can be involved in packing, too!
This teaches them about each food group and the elements of a well-balanced meal, not to mention increases their responsibility! I love buying inexpensive and colorful plastic bins from Dollar Tree to use for grab and go lunch packing!
For example, you could put all of the fruits in one color, the veggies in another color, the drinks in yet another color. Then, simply tell your child how many items to take from each color and they’ll be packing their own healthy lunch in no time!
6.) Mini Everything
A simple sandwich cut into four squares, is so much more FUN to eat for children than a whole sandwich! Mini brownie bites, carrots cut in slices, mini waffles, mini bagels bites or even pizza rolls are a fun take on traditional kiddo foods! Bite-sized food they can nibble on while they chat with their friends at lunchtime always goes over VERY well with my own children!
7.) Creative Cookie Cutters
When food is pretty, it tastes better, doesn’t it? It seems to anyway! Transform sandwiches, cucumbers, cookies, sliced carrots, cantaloupe, and more into any shape at all with cookie cutters! I love this set of cookie cutters in such cute and kid-friendly shapes!
8.) Organization is Everything
Thankfully, there are SO many options for organizing the inside of your child’s lunchbox! No more crushed chips or leaky fruit juice for us! Whether you prefer the bento box approach like this fun option, or more of a traditional lunch box with reusable storage containers like these, there is certainly an eco-friendly option for everyone!
9.)Tie on a Ribbon
I will tie a ribbon on anything, you guys! Tying a thin ribbon around the stem of an apple or pear makes the fruit look fun and is such a fantastic surprise when your child opens his or her lunchbox. It is so quick to do yet adds such delight to their day!
10.) Scrawl a Secret Note
Did you know that you can write a note on the outside of an unpeeled banana with a toothpick?! You can! Simply carve the words or designs into the peel and your markings will turn brown to reveal your message or picture. You could try drawing a funny face, writing a short greeting, or sharing a clever riddle with the answer carved into the other side of the fruit!
11.) Special Skewers
I love combining ingredients to make special skewers for lunchtime! You can either combine savories or sweets to make fun themes! For example, combine pepperoni, mozzarella cheese cubes, cherry tomatoes and black olives to create a pizza-themed skewer!
Or, arrange strawberries, cantaloupe, pineapple, honeydew melon, blueberries, and purple grapes to make a lovely rainbow of fruit! You could also alternate strawberries, marshmallows, and brownie bites to make a scrumptious and simple dessert that is pleasing to the eye, as well!
12.) Roll It Up
Another way to switch it up from a traditional sandwich is with a roll up! You can use a soft flour tortilla to create one with ham and cheese. Try bacon, lettuce, and tomato or even a chicken bacon ranch roll up, too! You could even roll up leftover chicken tenders with lettuce and create a chicken Caesar wrap! The options are literally endless!
13.) Sharpie Sketches
If you do happen to use plastic baggies to package your meal, try taking them from boring to BOLD by drawing funny Sharpie marker sketches on the outside. The lunch item inside the bag will provide a colorful backdrop for your sketch. Not the artistic type? That’s okay! Write a few words of encouragement or a funny joke, instead!
14.) Ice Pack Substitute
You don’t technically need an ice pack in each lunchbox when you plan ahead. The edible items you’re already packing in your child’s lunch can double as the ice pack when frozen! By lunchtime, the entire meal is still cool, and the frozen item has thawed, as well. This not only saves space, but also makes the lunch lighter for your child to carry!
It’s one less thing you must buy, too. The night before (or every Sunday for the upcoming week!), freeze berries, grapes (for the older kids!) yogurt, and juice. You can also freeze your child’s water bottle or a sponge inside a baggie!
15.) Sticker Fun
Every so often, I love raiding my children’s sticker stashes to decorate their lunches with! I have fun putting the stickers on both bananas and oranges. Since the peels of those fruits are discarded anyway, you don’t have to worry about residue from the sticker on your child’s food.
Also, on field trips with our school, my children are required to bring lunch in which the packaging can all be entirely thrown away. So, I also love decorating my children’s brown lunch bag with stickers on these special days, too!
If you incorporate these 15 Lunchbox Ideas for Back to School, it will save you time, money, and add FUN to the life of your child! These ideas are so easy and inexpensive to do but will still make your child feel SO special when they open their lunchbox at school in front of all their friends.