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Looking for some school lunch ideas for kids? Then make sure to check out all the photos below for some inspiration. Includes lots of easy and healthy packed lunch box ideas for kids as well as a fun section of bento box lunch ideas for special holidays!

Photo collage of packed lunches with text overlay "Lunch Ideas For Kids".

Reasons to Love These School Lunch Ideas

Packing lunches for kids is a dreaded task for many of us! I like to keep things easy by using a simple lunch box packing formula. All of the lunch box ideas below include a main, fruit, vegetable and a snack or treat. They are also easy to make, full of healthy foods and colorful (because we eat with our eyes first!).

3 Lunch Packing Tips

Tip #1: Keep it simple!

There is no need to spend a ton of time packing school lunches or making food art if that’s not your thing. It’s not mine! Well…unless I am occasionally feeling creative for a special holiday that is. For regular day-to-day lunch boxes, I follow this simple lunch box packing formula :

Main + Fruit + Veggie + Snack / Treat

Tip #2: Pick a time

Make it less frustrating by figuring out the best time to pack lunches. This will be different for everyone! The best time for me is the night before. I like to pack lunches either while cooking dinner (in the pockets of time while waiting on something) or right after dinner before the kitchen is cleaned up.

Tip #3: Use leftovers

I love popping leftovers into lunch boxes. Utilize any leftovers from dinner that will work in a packed lunch (e.g. pizza, pasta, chicken, meatballs, etc.). Homemade treats leftover from weekend baking adventures are also a welcome addition! Any homemade treats you might see in the photos below were definitely leftover and not just made for lunch boxes.

What should I put in my child’s lunch box?

I hope the photos below provide you with some inspiration and new ideas. However, when it comes to your child…you know best! You know their likes and dislikes and level of openness to new foods. My recommendation is to get them involved in the process and choosing which fruits and veggies to include.

Do you know what all the lunch boxes below have in common? They all follow the same simple lunch box packing formula mentioned above. I’ve been using it for so long that my kids know this formula intuitively now and will naturally include something from each section when choosing their own lunches. Make sure to grab your free printable below!

Easy Lunch Box Ideas (with pictures)

Need some school lunch box inspiration? See the packing formula in action below! Lots of photos of easy lunch box ideas for kids (some are great for adults as well!). You can easily adjust the portion size based on the age and appetite of the child. Make sure to also check out the fun section at the end which features a few cute lunch box ideas for special holidays.

Sandwich or Wrap

Let’s start off with a classic – the sandwich! So many filling options! Make it with bread or a bun or make a wrap instead!

Stainless steel bento-style lunch box filled with a bun sandwich, grapes, veggie sticks, chocolate filled strawberries and small bunny cookies.

In This Lunch Box:


Sushi rolls are a fun lunch box idea for kids that enjoy them! Many larger grocery stores even have sushi counters which makes it really easy to quickly grab and pop into a lunch box for the next day.

Bento lunch box filled with sushi rolls, bell pepper slices, blackberries, strawberry gummies and granola bites.

In This Lunch Box:

Homemade Lunchables

Homemade Lunchables are my go-to when I’m not sure what to pack and my kids also love this “snacky style” lunch! The main dish component is basically just crackers, cheese and meat.

Homemade lunchables in a stainless steel bento-style lunch box.

In This Lunch Box:


Most kids love pizza and don’t mind eating it cold! Make some English muffin pizzas, naan pizza, puff pastry pizza or even throw in a leftover slice from dinner.

Kids lunch box filled with english muffin pizzas, carrot sticks, green grapes, roasted chickpeas and snack bar.

In This Lunch Box:

Leftover Pasta

If your kid is a pasta lover, then heat up some leftover pasta in the morning and throw it in a thermos. Spaghetti or mac and cheese always get a big thumbs up from my kids!

Packed school lunch containing a thermos with spaghetti bolognese, a container of mixed fruits and veggies and a container with an apple scone.

In This Lunch Box:

  • Main: leftover spaghetti with Bolognese sauce
  • Fruit: strawberries and orange slices
  • Veggie: cucumber and red bell pepper slices
  • Snack / Treat: apple cinnamon scone (leftover from weekend baking)

Chicken Drumsticks

Ever since my kids were toddlers, they loved chicken drumsticks (even cold). It’s just fun, hand-held food! Use leftovers from dinner if you are cooking up a bunch of drumsticks or grab a store-bought rotisserie chicken.

Kids bento lunch box with two roasted chicken drumsticks, cucumber slices, peach slices, pretzel crackers and small bunny shaped cookies.

In This Lunch Box:

Sausage Rolls

Sausage Rolls are also delicious served cold which makes them a great option for lunch boxes. These Chicken Sausage Rolls are a healthier version filled with ground chicken and loads of hidden veggies.

Bento style stainless steel lunch box filled with sausage rolls, orange slices, blueberries, cucumber, red pepper and coconut cookies.

In This Lunch Box:


Frikadellen are German pan-fried ground meat patties – a cross between a meatball and a burger. They are delicious served hot or cold which makes leftovers perfect for lunch the next day!

Lunch box filled with cold frikadellen, pretzel stick, red bell pepper slices, carrot sticks, sliced german waffles, apple and mandarin.

In This Lunch Box:

  • Main: leftover German Frikadellen from dinner and a pretzel bun
  • Fruit: mandarin orange and apple
  • Veggie: carrot sticks and red bell pepper slices
  • Snack / Treat: leftover German waffle from the weekend cut into strips

Zucchini Slice

Zucchini slice is a classic Aussie dish that is often made for kids and tastes great popped into a lunch box. I was introduced to this delicious dish when I lived in Australia for a few years. It features grated zucchini (which you can’t taste), cheese, bacon and onion in an egg-based batter. The texture is soft and fluffy yet firm enough to hold by hand.

Stainless steel lunch bento box containing zucchini slice, raspberries, cucumber and red bell pepper slices, mini muffins and mini cookies.

In This Lunch Box:

Pasta Salad

Pasta salad is a great lunch box option that can be prepped ahead and enjoyed by the whole family. There are so many different options too so just choose one that your family loves!

Lunch box containing chicken macaroni pasta salad, cubed watermelon, sliced red bell pepper, strawberry gummy, cookie and roasted chickpeas.

In This Lunch Box:

Fun Special Occasion Lunch Box Ideas

Sometimes I like to make the lunch boxes a little more fun for special holidays! Here are some cute themed bento box lunch ideas for Halloween, Christmas, Valentine’s Day and Easter.

Halloween Lunch Box

How cute is this Halloween themed lunch box? It’s amazing what some candy eyeballs and a Sharpie can do!

A halloween themed bento box lunch for kids.

In This Lunch Box:

Christmas Lunch Box

This Christmas themed lunch box idea is super festive and filled with lots of healthy delicious foods (plus a Christmas cookie of course!).

A Christmas themed lunch in a stainless steel bento box.

In This Lunch Box:

  • Main: pinwheel sandwiches arranged in the shape of a Christmas tree with a star cut out of cheese on top
  • Fruit: strawberries, green grapes and pomegranate arils
  • Veggie: sliced red and green bell pepper
  • Snack / Treat: Kokosmakronen (German Coconut Macaroons) – can easily be replaced with any Christmas cookie you like!

Valentine’s Day Lunch Box

Grab some heart shaped cookie cutters to transform lunch into a cute Valentine’s Day lunch box.

A Valentine's Day themed lunch box for kids.

In This Lunch Box:

  • Main: parmesan salami rose, cheese and pumpernickel bread cut into hearts (using small cookie cutters)
  • Fruit: watermelon and strawberries cut into hearts
  • Veggie: bell peppers cut into hearts
  • Snack/Treat: strawberry gummies made in a heart shaped silicone mold and a small chocolate heart.

Easter Lunch Box

This super cute Easter themed bento lunch box is really easy to assemble.

An Easter themed bento lunch box for kids.

In This Lunch Box:

Lunch Boxes & Accessories

Looking for some new lunch gear for the kids? Check out my recommendations for lunch boxes and accessories here >>> Back-To-School Lunch Boxes & Accessories For Kids

Photo collage graphic of lunch boxes and accessories for kids.

Some great lunch gear makes packing those school lunches much easier! I really love either using a bento-style lunch box for my kids (as you probably noticed in the lunch box idea photos above) or a warm thermos lunch with the additional food packed in separate containers.

What is a bento lunch box?

Wondering what a bento lunch box is? A bento-style lunch box is a segmented container with multiple compartments. This allows you to use just one container to pack multiple types of foods.

I love this style of lunch box for a number of reasons:

  • Easy to pack: You just need to fill up the various compartments, close the lid and you are done.
  • Visually appealing: It is really nice for kids to see all their food laid out before them in a colorful, organized display.
  • Easy to store: It is just one container so there is no fumbling around with multiple containers and hunting for lids.
  • Easy for kids: They just need to open one container to access all their food instead of struggling and wasting time opening multiple containers.

Kids are usually hungry when they get home from school. If you are looking for some after school snack ideas then you might enjoy these posts as well. Some of them also work as lunch box snacks too!

Hope these lunch box ideas for kids provided some inspiration! Please tag me on Instagram. I would love to see your lunch box photos!

PIN it for later!

Photo collage graphic showing different packed lunch boxes with text overlay "Easy Lunch Box Ideas For Kids".

About Vanessa Gilic

I want to help you make delicious food using real ingredients! Explore a variety of easy to follow, real-food recipes ranging from healthy eats to comfort food. Welcome to Maple + Mango – I'm so happy you're here!

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  1. nancy says:

    wow these are really cute ideas. I think my DD would love this for lunch!

    1. Vanessa | Maple + Mango says:

      Thank you! I hope your daughter loves them!

  2. Bernice says:

    There are some really great idea in this post Vanessa. I sure wish I had something like this guide when my kids were in school. My niece is coming this weekend and maybe I can surprise her with one of these ideas!

    1. Vanessa | Maple + Mango says:

      Thank you Bernice!