50+ School Lunch Ideas that are healthy, kid-friendly and perfect for picky eaters. Tons of back to school lunches for nut-free, dairy-free, grain-free, sugar free, Whole30, paleo, low carb, keto and gluten free substitutions. Lots of options for no cooking, no heating or microwave needed!

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Updated August 2021

Easy School Lunch Ideas

It’s that time of year again! Back to school season is upon us and that means many parents are going to need all the Easy School Lunch Ideas. Although many schools have their first day back at school in August but around here, classes begin in September, the day after Labor Day. These

Don’t you just feel like every summer flies by quicker and quicker? We sure do and are definitely going to be missing the slower mornings. If you’re already back to your regular school routine again, you’re probably faced with that daily question of what to pack in school lunches. Packing lunches can always be a challenge and here are some healthy lunch ideas to get you started.

Most parents struggle with trying to balance nutritious choices with what your child will actually eat. Staying organized by planning ahead and having a variety of fresh, fun and healthy ideas helps make life easier with school lunches.

It’s the best feeling to open that lunchbox at the end of the day and see that your kids love everything that you packed.

Looking for more healthy school lunch ideas? Be sure to check out these easy school lunch posts:

  • Healthy School Lunches for the New Year
  • 5 School Lunch Ideas for Picky Eaters
  • Kids School Lunch Ideas
  • Keto Lunches for Work or School

8 Healthy and Delicous Lunches for Back To School. Tons of ideas with options for nut free, dairy free and gluten free choices. Delicious and something for even picky eaters who will want to finish their food with no leftovers. Perfect for adults too who are looking for recipes and ideas other than sandwiches to bring to work.

Helpful Tips When Packing School Lunches

Plan Ahead

Make back to school lunches ahead of time at night and portion off any dried snacks that keep well on Sundays for the rest of the week.

Mix it up

Include a variety so your child doesn’t get bored. Switch things up and pair different snacks, fruits, carbs and protein. Leftovers like muffins, pasta salads or chilled sesame noodles are some great choices for school lunch ideas for kindergarten and high school.

Granola bar recipes:

  • Healthy Homemade Granola Bars -12 Ways
  • Pumpkin Cashew Butter Granola Bars
  • 5 Ingredient Granola Bars
  • Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chips Granola Bars
  • No-Bake Granola Bars with Almond & Cranberry
  • Chewy No-Bake Peanut Butter and Jelly Granola Bars

Breakfast cookie recipes:

  • Healthy Breakfast Cookies – 12 Ways
  • Zucchini Breakfast Cookies (Flourless)
  • Pumpkin Breakfast Cookies

Energy Bite recipes

  • Energy Bites – 12 Ways
  • Cranberry Energy Bites
  • Almond Joy Energy Bites

Zucchini Tots

8 Healthy and Delicous Lunches for Back To School. Tons of ideas with options for nut free, dairy free and gluten free choices. Delicious and something for even picky eaters who will want to finish their food with no leftovers. Perfect for adults too who are looking for recipes and ideas other than sandwiches to bring to work.

Keep things fun with some DIY “Lunchables”

Refer: Packed Lunch Ideas For College Students | Coral's Blog – Food Blog – Cooking Guide

Allow your child to put together their own DIY pizzas or wraps with dips and sauces to make things interesting.

Yogurt, hummus, guacamole and salsa are great for adding flavor to vegetables and fruit.

Food Safety

Many items will keep at room temperature but be aware of which will require an ice pack to stay cool. Also make sure that you are aware of any peanut or other food restrictions that the school might have in place. I’ve included many nut-free lunches and included notes for substitutions.

Keep food separate using a lunch box that has divided compartments

Having a lunchbox with separate compartments and / or liners will help you remember to include all the components of a balanced meal.

Here are a few of my favorites:

PlanetBox – 5 Compartments

LunchBot – Trio and Duo

3 Compartment LunchBoxes

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13 School Lunch Ideas

I’ve included these easy and kid-friendly school lunch recipes, tips and tricks below to make preparing school lunches a breeze. The lunchboxes, silicone muffin liners and condiment cups can all be purchased from Amazon.

Feel free to mix and match or swap out any of the fruits and snacks to suit your tastes.

1. DIY Tortillas (Gluten free, Nut free, substitutions provided for dairy free)

8 Healthy and Delicous Lunches for Back To School. Tons of ideas with options for nut free, dairy free and gluten free choices. Delicious and something for even picky eaters who will want to finish their food with no leftovers. Perfect for adults too who are looking for recipes and ideas other than sandwiches to bring to work. 8 Healthy and Delicous Lunches for Back To School. Tons of ideas with options for nut free, dairy free and gluten free choices. Delicious and something for even picky eaters who will want to finish their food with no leftovers. Perfect for adults too who are looking for recipes and ideas other than sandwiches to bring to work.

  • Tortilla chips – Use grain-free or gluten-free tortilla chips as needed. We like Siete Grain-Free Tortilla Chips.
  • Shredded cheese – leave out or use vegan cheese for dairy-free. We like Violife and Chao), grape tomatoes.
  • Turkey – sub with chicken or ham. Or for a meatless option, sub with cooked tofu, tempeh or vegan deli slices, chickpeas for vegan.
  • Cheese – cut into circles OR string cheese – leave cheese out for dairy free version or use vegan cheese for dairy-free. We like Violife and Chao.
  • Fresh fruit – pictured above: peach slices, watermelon chunks, blueberries and blackberries

2. Turkey and Cheese Roll-ups

8 Healthy and Delicous Lunches for Back To School. Tons of ideas with options for nut free, dairy free and gluten free choices. Delicious and something for even picky eaters who will want to finish their food with no leftovers. Perfect for adults too who are looking for recipes and ideas other than sandwiches to bring to work.

  • Turkey slices, swiss and cheddar cheese slices. Leave cheese out for dairy free version or use vegan cheese for dairy-free. We like Violife and Chao. Or for a meatless option, sub with cooked tofu, tempeh or vegan deli slices, chickpeas for vegan.
  • Raw almonds (leave out for nut free version)
  • Raw veggies: celery, grape tomatoes, cauliflower and zucchini
  • Multi-grain or grain-free crackers with sunbutter. We like Simple Mills Almond Flour Crackers.
  • Apple slices
  • Grapes

3. DIY Lunchables (Nut free, dairy free, substitutions provided for gluten free)

8 Healthy and Delicous Lunches for Back To School. Tons of ideas with options for nut free, dairy free and gluten free choices. Delicious and something for even picky eaters who will want to finish their food with no leftovers. Perfect for adults too who are looking for recipes and ideas other than sandwiches to bring to work. 8 Healthy and Delicous Lunches for Back To School. Tons of ideas with options for nut free, dairy free and gluten free choices. Delicious and something for even picky eaters who will want to finish their food with no leftovers. Perfect for adults too who are looking for recipes and ideas other than sandwiches to bring to work.

  • Pita or tortilla triangles – Use grain-free or gluten-free tortillas as needed. We like Siete Grain-Free Tortillas.
  • Plantain chips
  • Zucchini or cucumber
  • Turkey OR your favorite deli meat – Or for a meatless option, sub with cooked tofu, tempeh or vegan deli slices, chickpeas for vegan.
  • Apple slices
  • Wholegrain mini crackers – use grain-free or gluten-free crackers as needed. We like Simple Mills Almond Flour Crackers.
  • Hummus (OR cream cheese if not dairy-free)
  • Fresh berries – (Pictured above: strawberries, blueberries and blackberries)
  • Pumpkin seeds and cranberries

4. Healthier Egg “Salad” Sandwich – (Nut free, substitutions provided for gluten free)

Read more: 32 Easy Vegan Summer Dessert Recipes (light and fruity) | Guide to the Kitchen – Coral

8 Healthy and Delicous Lunches for Back To School. Tons of ideas with options for nut free, dairy free and gluten free choices. Delicious and something for even picky eaters who will want to finish their food with no leftovers. Perfect for adults too who are looking for recipes and ideas other than sandwiches to bring to work.

  • Avocado egg salad – scrambled eggs mixed with avocado, Greek yogurt, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper with multigrain bread or wholewheat bread. (Use grain-free or gluten-free bread as needed. We like Base Culture or California Country Gal) – cut into bite-sized portions (mini grilled cheese sandwiches would also be another great option if you’re not dairy free)
  • Cooked corn on the cob
  • Raw vegetables – sugar snap peas, grape tomatoes, shredded carrots (baby carrots), canned chickpeas
  • Vegan ranch or dairy-free Greek yogurt. We like Culina or Kite Hill
  • Fruit – cubed watermelon (or a homemade fruit leather)

5. DIY Pizza (Nut free, substitutions provided for dairy free and gluten free)

8 Healthy and Delicous Lunches for Back To School. Tons of ideas with options for nut free, dairy free and gluten free choices. Delicious and something for even picky eaters who will want to finish their food with no leftovers. Perfect for adults too who are looking for recipes and ideas other than sandwiches to bring to work.

  • Pita or tortilla triangles – Use grain-free or gluten-free tortillas as needed. We like Siete Grain-Free Tortillas.
  • Turkey pepperoni slices – sub with plant-based pepperoni slices for a vegan option.
  • Pizza sauce or salsa
  • Shredded cheese – use vegan cheese for dairy-free. We like Violife and Chao.
  • Raw vegetables – grape tomatoes, chopped cucumber or zucchini, shredded carrots
  • Fresh fruit – cubed watermelon and grapes

6. Smashed Chickpea Sandwich (Dairy Free, Nut-free and substitutions for gluten free)

8 Healthy and Delicous Lunches for Back To School. Tons of ideas with options for nut free, dairy free and gluten free choices. Delicious and something for even picky eaters who will want to finish their food with no leftovers. Perfect for adults too who are looking for recipes and ideas other than sandwiches to bring to work.

  • Smashed Chickpea Sandwich – with multigrain bread (Use grain-free or gluten-free bread as needed. We like Base Culture or California Country Gal) – cut into bite-sized portions – fill with smashed chickpeas, smashed avocado, salt & pepper, kale (or lettuce)
  • Fresh fruit – peach slices, blackberries, chopped watermelon
  • Raw vegetables – zucchini, cucumber and / or celery
  • Banana
  • Hummus with sugar or snap peas and multigrain crackers – use grain-free or gluten-free crackers as needed. We like Simple Mills Almond Flour Crackers.

7. Taco Salad (Gluten free)

8 Healthy and Delicous Lunches for Back To School. Tons of ideas with options for nut free, dairy free and gluten free choices. Delicious and something for even picky eaters who will want to finish their food with no leftovers. Perfect for adults too who are looking for recipes and ideas other than sandwiches to bring to work.

  • Freeze-dried strawberries and blueberries
  • Plantain chips
  • Cranberry Energy Bites OR you can make your own trail mix
  • Taco Salad – lettuce, black beans, sliced tomatoes and shredded cheese – leave cheese out for dairy free version or use vegan cheese for dairy-free. We like Violife and Chao.
  • Unsweetened apple sauce
  • Grapes

8. Healthier Egg “Salad” Sandwich – (Nut free, substitutions provided for gluten free)

8 Healthy and Delicous Lunches for Back To School. Tons of ideas with options for nut free, dairy free and gluten free choices. Delicious and something for even picky eaters who will want to finish their food with no leftovers. Perfect for adults too who are looking for recipes and ideas other than sandwiches to bring to work.

  • Avocado egg salad – scrambled eggs mixed with avocado, Greek yogurt, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper with multigrain bread or wholewheat bread (Use grain-free or gluten-free bread as needed. We like Base Culture or California Country Gal) – cut into bite-sized portions (mini grilled cheese sandwiches would also be another great option if you’re not dairy free)
  • Cooked corn on the cob
  • Pumpkin seeds and cranberries
  • Apple slices with dairy-free Greek yogurt – We like Culina or Kite Hill.
  • Fresh berries – (Pictured above: strawberries, blueberries and blackberries)

9. Tuna Salad – (Nut free, low carb, sugar free, gluten free, Whole30, keto, Paleo, dairy-free)

low carb school lunches lunch boxes recipe photo picture 1 of 1 4 11

  • Tuna salad – tuna mixed with Whole30 mayo + salt + pepper + chopped celery. Use Smashed Chickpea Salad for a meatless option.
  • Avocado slices + Trader Joe’s Everything Bagel Seasoning, cherry tomatoes + sliced cucumbers + broccoli
  • Spiralized zucchini + marinara sauce
  • Pumpkin seeds + sunflower seeds + unsweetened organic coconut flakes

10. Turkey – (Low carb, sugar free, gluten free, Whole30, keto, Paleo, dairy-free)

low carb school lunches lunch boxes recipe photo picture 1 of 1 2 12

  • Trader Joe’s nitrate free turkey slices
  • Guacamole + celery + broccoli + Applegate Turkey Pepperoni + cherry tomatoes
  • Egg muffins – you can sub with Just Egg for a plant-based option
  • Pecans + macadamia nuts

11. Egg Muffins – (Low carb, sugar free, gluten free, Whole30, keto, Paleo, dairy-free)

low carb school lunches lunch boxes recipe photo picture 1 of 1 3 13

  • Breakfast egg muffins – you can sub with Just Egg for a plant-based option.
  • Vegan ranch + celery + broccoli + cucumber + zucchini + cherry tomatoes
  • Olives + sun-dried tomatoes
  • Strawberries + blueberries

12. Vegetable Guacamole – (Nut-free, low carb, sugar free, gluten free, Whole30, keto, Paleo, dairy-free)

low carb school lunches lunch boxes recipe photo picture 1 of 1 14

  • Guacamole + celery + broccoli + cucumber + cherry tomatoes
  • Spiralized zucchini + smoked salmon
  • Hard-boiled eggs

13. Chicken Salad – (Low carb, sugar free, gluten free, keto, Paleo, dairy-free)

Top view of school lunch box idea in a bento box

  • Chicken salad – cooked chicken mixed with Whole30 mayo + salt + pepper + chopped celery + sliced almonds + pecans + in Outer Aisle Cauliflower Sandwich Thins (paleo / keto). Use Smashed Chickpea Salad for a meatless option.
  • Cucumber + cherry tomatoes
  • Raspberries + dried blueberries + shredded coconut
  • Almond butter OR sunbutter

Looking for more easy school lunches? Be sure to check out these school lunch posts:

Healthy School Lunches for the New Year

5 Easy Bento Box Lunches for Fall

Back to School Lunches

Healthier Than Takeout Meal Prep

Read more: Practical School Lunch Ideas (Cold & Hot) + Tortilla Pinwheels

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