Life with kids is hectic. On top of all the project management that you have to do with their jam-packed schedules, you’re expected to prepare nutritious school lunches for them five days a week. It is a lot. So we thought we’d make your life a teeny bit easier and round up a list of quick, healthy lunch ideas. 

To make these school lunches as easy as possible, we included several healthy packaged items for the days when you just can’t and the thought of meal prepping makes you want to hide on the roof wearing a pair of noise-canceling headphones. We also have lunch ideas for kids at home doing virtual learning. 

School Lunch Ideas for Younger Kids 

Ham & Cheese Roll-Up Bento Box

Ham & cheese roll-up bento box school lunch

Source: Eat This, Not That!

This meal reigns supreme in terms of easy lunch ideas for kids because all you have to do is roll a slice of deli cheese into a slice of deli ham, then add healthy sides like pre-cut veggies and packaged snacks. 

We especially love Japanese-style bento boxes for school lunches because their separate containers encourage variety and keep food from touching—a boon for picky eaters.

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Stouffer’s Microwavable Meals

Stouffer’s mac n cheese microwaveable school lunch

Are we really including Stouffers in our roundup of quick and healthy school lunches? Absolutely! Stouffer’s classic offering, microwavable mac ’n’ cheese, is a kid-favorite, and it can easily be made healthier if you stir in some Greek yogurt or top it with chopped steamed broccoli. 

We also like Stouffer’s lasagna with meat sauce and frozen fried chicken for a little bit more protein. Still feeling a little guilty? Don’t—each meal is less than 500 calories!  

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BLT with Leftover Bacon

BLT made with leftover bacon on toasted bread

Source: The Kitchn

BLTs are a great option for school lunches because they’re fast and filling. To make them even faster, use bacon leftover from a weekend breakfast. To make them even healthier, use turkey bacon. Round out the meal with a side of carrots and ranch dressing.

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Microwavable/Canned Soup

Campbell’s Chunky Classic Chicken Noodle Soup

Microwaveable and canned soups are the ultimate hack when it comes to throwing together a fast meal. Classic chicken noodle is a kid-favorite, and you can easily add extra cooked vegetables to it without your child really noticing. 

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Blueberry & Banana Toast with Nut Butter

Blueberry and banana whole wheat toast with peanut butter

Source: Nutrition by Mia

This spin on a classic PB&J relies on the tried-and-true combination of carbohydrate + protein + fat + fiber to keep kids full. It also gets plenty of sweetness from the fruit toppings. If your child’s school doesn’t allow peanut butter, swap it for another nut butter, such as almond, or even sunflower seed butter. 

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Cheesy Quesadilla

Cheese quesadilla with a side of salsa

Source: Oh, Sweet Basil

Cheese quesadillas are some of the easiest things to cook and can be made as healthy as you want. Add rotisserie chicken or black beans for extra protein, cooked bell peppers for a hint of sweetness and fresh spinach for a serving of greens. Quesadillas are good hot or cold, making them ideal for packed school lunches. 

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  • Tortillas 

  • Shredded cheese

  • Optional add-ins: black beans, rotisserie chicken, bell peppers, spinach 

  • Salsa

Crispy Chicken and Hummus Pitas

Pitas stuffed with crispy chicken and beet hummus

Source: Oh My Dish

To make this super fast lunch, throw some crispy chicken into a pita, and add a smear of hummus (beet hummus if you want to be extra healthy) and a handful of greens. To make this recipe even easier and healthier, forgo the fried chicken in favor of chicken nuggets. 

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School Lunch Ideas for Older Kids & Teens

Healthy Choice Bowls

Healthy Choice Korean-Inspired Beef Bowls

Healthy Choice specializes in healthy lunches and dinners that comply with FDA guidelines for cholesterol, fat, saturated fat and sodium. These super convenient meals cook up quickly in the microwave, and some even come in plant-based fiber packaging to help reduce plastic waste.

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Cold Miso Sesame Noodles

Cold miso sesame noodles with cucumber

Source: Bon Appetit

This is one of those rare leftover meals that actually tastes better the next day, after the noodles have had plenty of time to soak up the saucy goodness. The dish is meant to be eaten cold, too, making it perfect for students who don’t have access to a microwave at school. 

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  • Pasta

  • Miso 

  • Sesame oil

  • Grapeseed or neutral oil

  • Garlic clove

  • Kosher salt

  • Toasted sesame seeds 

  • Fresno chile

  • Persian cucumbers

  • Scallions

Ready Pac Bistro Salads

Ready Pac Bistro Chef Salad

You know how it’s impossible to get out of bed some mornings? These grab-and-go salads are perfect for those days when your kid hits snooze on their alarm one too many times and needs a lunch to chuck into their backpack while skidding out the door. 

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  • Ready Pac Bistro Chef Salad

  • Ready Pac Bistro Chicken Caesar Salad

Classic Rotisserie Chicken Salad

Chicken salad with grapes on a croissant

Source: The Daring Gourmet

If you’re looking for an ultra-fast gourmet sandwich, rotisserie chicken salad is your friend. All you have to do is mix a few ingredients together, and you have a quick, filling lunch. Really, the most time-consuming part of this recipe is corralling the grapes as they roll around the cutting board. 

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  • Chicken breast or rotisserie chicken

  • Wheat bread or croissant 

  • Mayo 

  • Sour cream

  • Grapes or apples

  • Celery 

  • Green onions

  • Lemon 

  • Yellow mustard

  • Fresh parsley

  • Dried dill weed

  • Onion powder

  • Garlic powder

  • Sugar

  • Salt

  • Freshly ground black pepper

Hillshire’s Fancy Lunchables

Hillshire Snacking Pack with salame, gouda and crackers

These grab-and-go options from Hillshire are ideal for budding foodies who want their charcuterie in Lunchable format. And yes, it’s perfectly acceptable for you to commandeer one to go with a glass of wine. 

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Easy Italian Pasta Salad

Italian pasta salad with salami, tomatoes & olives

Source: the Kitchn

Pasta salad might take a tiny bit longer to make upfront (this one is about 30 minutes), but if you make a big batch on Sunday night, it will keep for the next 5 school days and you won’t have to do any weeknight lunch prep. 

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  • Pasta

  • Salami & cheese pack

  • Olives

  • Red onion 

  • Olive oil

  • Red wine vinegar

  • Cherry tomatoes 

  • English cucumber 

  • Dried Italian seasoning

  • Granulated sugar

  • Garlic clove

  • Kosher salt

  • Freshly ground black pepper

  • Fresh parsley 

Amy’s Bean & Rice Burrito

Amy’s Bean & Rice Burrito

Amy’s plant-based frozen burritos satisfy with a hearty combination of organic pinto beans, brown rice and veggies. Plus, they’re dairy-free, making them a great school lunch for vegans.

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