Thursday, August 22, 2013

20 Easy, Healthy, & Yummy Cold Lunch Ideas

For my children there is nothing in this world more exciting than food.

I don't know if they get it from me (because, I admit, food is my downfall) or if it's because they are growing boys, but when my kids hear that there is food involved in anything they are all over it.

So, as it would seem, when it comes to going back to school food is a really big deal. Especially in a world where you have to have the "good stuff" in your cold lunch to be the "cool kid".

Last year for my son, that was not the case. He usually got a peanut butter and jelly or ham and cheese sandwhich with whatever was on sale at meijer and a fruit of some sort. And he was expected to be happy about it. Which he wasn't (and really, can you blame him).

But this year I made a promise to my all grown up, I have to be cool, 1st grader that his lunches would be different and fun.

But for me, since I am determined to be the "cool mom", they also need to be fairly easy.

So whats a Mom to do when her baby big boy has such high expectations? She hits up Pinterest of course!

And through that I have compiled a list of 20 great, easy, healthy, and ubber yummy cold lunch ideas for the lunch boxes of my house and yours.

1 & 2. Home-made lunchable - Whole wheat crackers, sliced "chunk" cheese, and some sliced low sodium ham or turkey. Something even I love to eat! Top it all off with some fresh fruit and 100% juice. Bam!

You can also make those cool little pizzas. (This one my mother used to do ALL the time and they were amazing!) Turkey pepperoni, marinara sauce, your favorite flat bread (I will be using whole wheat).

3.. Burritos - Whole wheat tortilla, freshly shredded cheese & turkey, beans, lettace....basically this one is whatever you like on your burritos (and whatever your kids like). Make 2 for it to be more filling.

3. Subs - This one is a new take on the old sandwhich. You can get the traditional whole wheat mini-sub bun or you can step it up with a pretzel bun or something else fun. Then of course lettace, lunch meat, cheese, etc. Top it off with baked chips or some whole wheat cheese its and fruit.

4. Pasta Salad - Any noodle works but for fun use wagon wheel or colorful ones, chunks of cheese, pepperoni or sausage, fresh veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, whatever your kids like), mix together with Italian dressing, and Parmesan cheese.

5. Turkey and Cheese Melt - Kind of like the traditional grilled cheese but with sliced turkey added (or ham). Partner with carrots and ranch.

6. Ham and Cheese Rolls - So basic it scares me! Take your sliced ham and cheese and roll them together. Bam! Done. This could be pared with just about any healthy snack you could possibly want! And who doesn't do this anyway.

7. Fruit pizza bagel - take some whole wheat mini bagels, cover them with mixed cream cheese and honey, and top with fruit (any your kids will eat). Sprinkle with coconut (optional).

8. Walking Taco - Now this one isn't usually considered healthy but is so easy to make that way! Put all the ingredients into separate container and let your child mix them. Cold shredded chicken or turkey cooked with taco seasoning, shredded cheese, lettace, cream cheese, salsa, and a bag of chips or 2 (you can use teh traditional fritos, doritos, or tortilla chips or you can use the healthier whole wheat or baked versions).

9. BLTS - Who doesn't like a good BLT?! No one I know. And what sounds better than having one for your lunch? Make the usual way, pair with chips or crackers and fruit.

10. Egg Salad Sandwiches - These can be so basic or played up. Add lettace and tomato, onions, and even lunch meat and you have a really filling sandwich that tastes great! Again, paired with chips, crackers, or fruit. Or even greek yogurt if that tickles your fancy.

11. Chicken Quesadillas - My husband would be proud! Take a tortilla, cheese, and practically anything else you want to. Toast on the stove (but serve cold for the lunch). Serve with sour cream.

12. Grilled Chicken Salad Sandwich - Make your favorite chicken salad, spread between bread and add cheese. Grill and serve cold.

13. Fruit Salad - Amazingly, even though they have a HUGE sweet tooth my kids LOVE fruit salad. Any fruit works and they will eat it by the gallon. So why not let them for lunch? Serve it with greek yogurt and cheese.

14. Home-made Corn Dogs - My kids eat these both hot and cold at home anyway so I will be adding it to the menu for school lunches this year. Mix together any corn bread you like and pour into a muffin tin, slice a hot dog and stick it into the middle of the mix in each section of the tin. Cook according to bread directions. Serve cold in lunch with ketchup.

15. Pizza Crescent Rolls - Take crescent rolls, pepperoni, and cheese sticks. Bake according to directions for the rolls. Serve cold with Marinara sauce.

16. Basic Sandwich in fun shapes -  You can see these all over the place when you look and for younger kids it makes sense. Just seeing your blah sandwhich in a new way is enough to make it good! Buy cookie cutters and have at it!

17. Veggie Pizza - Flat bread, cream cheese, topped with every veggie you want. This is something you can make at home or they can make at school.

And since we can't forget to mention a few thermos inspired meals...

18. Spaghetti - It can be freshly made or leftovers. Serve with garlic bread slice and shredded parmesan cheese.

19. Macaroni and Cheese - Because, hello. These are kids we are talking about.

20. Soup - Home-made or canned, kids love soup. I'm horrible at making it myself but I know that the store I like to shop at sells some great natural and organic versions of my boys' favorites.

Hopefully you'll find these ideas as great as I do. I actually cannot wait to start making his lunches! (and I hate to cook so that should say something!)

Are there any sure fire, go to meals that you like to make for you children's school lunches? How about snacks?


  1. My kids love homemade lunchables! They also like hard boiled eggs. I am going to have to try making corn dogs for them.

    1. They are really easy and much more healthy than buying them at the store. Trust me, they'll love them.

  2. These are some great ideas! My kids always loved stuff in a thermos. It almost didn't matter what. Now that they're older they buy their lunch most often, but when they bring it from home, it's something in a thermos! --Lisa

    1. That's funny! But I can't say anything, I'm an adult and I love soup and chili from a thermos on a cold day.

  3. Those are some good ideas. I get tired of making the same thing for my son, day-in and day-out. Poor child. Sometimes I wish he would just buy his lunch in lunchroom, but I cannot blame him for not wanting to do so.

    1. That's how I was feeling too! Poor baby, it's no wonder that he didn't want me to make that at all for him this summer.

  4. These are some really great ideas! My boys are pretty easy, but my daughter is a foodie and wants things like crusted chicken over greens with honey mustard dressing. I think she took that 4 days a week last year. I found another salad recipe with grilled chicken she likes so hopefully we can alternate that in too. I'm going to try some of your ideas on my boys!

    1. Awesome! You'll have to let me know how they like them.

  5. THANK YOU! I have had the same conversations with myself over my first grader's lunch. I remember being in first grade, and the "in" thing to bring for lunch was whole pomegranates!

  6. I tried the homemade pizza lunchable with my VERY PICKY 8 year olds and it was a major hit. Like his new favorite snack. Thanks Kendra.

    1. I'm glad he liked it! They are a huge hit around here too and SO easy to make! Thanks for stopping by!

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