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Fun School Lunches Kids Will Actually Want to Eat

Running low on lunch inspiration? Here are 9 foolproof ways to beat the PB&J blahs.

Margo Gothelf and Sarah Burns

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Get Inspired Every Day

School lunch doesn’t have to be just sammies and soggy pizza slices. This year at school, spice up the options with a lunch menu that kids will actually look forward to eating! Replace classic sandwiches with cucumber sushi or mac and cheese muffins. Swap a pre-packaged Lunchable for a fresher version, or let kids build their own lunch with help from a little bit of clever fridge organization. Whatever school lunch alternative you choose from this list, that lunch box is coming home empty at the end of the day — guaranteed. 

1. Mac and Cheese Lunchbox Muffins

back to school lunch ideas

I Should Be Mopping the Floor

Want to make a little lunchtime magic? Grab your muffin tin and turn leftover mac and cheese into tomorrow's lunch. The bite-sized treats will hold up well in a lunch box. Plus, you won't need any utensils to indulge in these bites of cheesy goodness. I Should Be Mopping The Floor throws in some ham along with the mac and cheese as a protein, but feel free to add in whatever you'd like. 

2. Rainbow Veggie Pinwheels

Pinwheel Sandwiches

Dinner at the Zoo

Bring art class into the lunchroom with these rainbow veggie pinwheels. The mini wraps are filled with colorful vegetables and will delight your eyes just as much as your tastebuds. Want the secret to getting these wraps perfectly rolled? Cut the veggies long, and don't overstuff the wrap — you can always have seconds! 

3. BB-8 Bento Lunch


The Lunchbox Dad

Even Jedis have to take a break for lunch. Refuel for the rest of the school day with a Star Wars-themed bento lunch box. Snack on a BB-8 sandwich and fuel up on protein with a Stormtrooper hard-boiled egg. You'll probably want to keep the light saber at home, though — something tells me it might not be allowed at recess!

4. Cucumber Sushi


Raising Whasians

Healthy lunches don't have to be boring. Case in point: these simple cucumber sushi rolls. Instead of raw fish, the cucumber rolls are stuffed with deli meats, veggies, and a little bit of cheese, making for a fun twist on the classic combo. Who needs sliced sandwich bread with these rolls in the lunchtime lineup?

5. Sandwich on a Stick


Two Peas and Their Pod

Some kids just won't eat a sandwich — no matter how much Nutella is on it. But nobody can resist a sandwich on a stick! It's way more fun to eat Stuff On Sticks than Stuff On Bread, plus, the deconstructed sandwich separates all the ingredients so kids can pick and choose what they want to eat. And did we mention it's on a stick?

6. Shake-and-Make Pasta Salad


Shaken Together Life

See you later sandwiches — pasta salad is about to take your crown with this creative recipe from Shaken Together Life. The clever lunchtime meal lets kids shake-and-make their own pasta salad when it's time for the cafeteria. Packing all of the ingredients separately helps keep everything from getting soggy, plus kids can mix and match the ingredients depending on what they're in the mood for. They can mix it all together or keep it separate for a deconstructed meal. 

7. Banana Cereal Snacks


The Gracious Wife

With some kids' school schedules calling for lunch at 11 am (and sometimes even earlier!), it can be hard to work up an appetite for that slab of cafeteria pizza. If your stomach is still craving breakfast when the bell rings for lunch at 10:55, dig into some banana cereal snacks. This light lunch idea covers bananas in peanut butter and cereal for a surprisingly filling bite. It makes a delish after-school snack, too.

8. Healthy Lunchables

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Get Inspired Every Day

You know it's gonna be a good day when you find Lunchables packed in your lunch box. While the classic DIY lunch kit is tasty and fun to eat, the artificial ingredients list isn't something you want to eat every day. Thankfully, Get Inspired Every Day has found a way to put a healthy spin on the classic meal kit. The recipe makes a one-to-one swap with fresh ingredients, making it something you'd be happy to eat for lunch every single day. 

9. Build-Your-Own Lunch


Eazy Peazy Mealz

Meals always taste a little better (and are more likely to be eaten, too) when you make them yourself. So let kids get involved in the lunchtime process by making it easy for them to create their own lunch box. Set up a few different bins in the fridge with packs of veggies, fruits, proteins, and even some sweets, then let kids choose one item from each bin. Fill the bins with food that you know your kids will like. That way, they'll eat everything they choose instead of coming home with leftovers at the end of the day. Eazy Peazy Mealz has all the details on how you can set up a system in your fridge to make lunchtime a breeze.