These fun and healthy School Lunchbox Ideas will make packing lunches for your kids a little easier and a lot more fun!

Four fun lunchbox ideas.

Making Work Fun

One of the most frequent questions I’ve been asked over the years is, “What do you pack in the kids’ lunch boxes?” I remember being so overwhelmed when they all first started school five days a week. What would I put in their lunches? Would they actually eat it? Was it enough food for them? How much time would I need to allow in the mornings to pack their lunchboxes?

Well, now that we’ve gotten the hang of things, I feel like I’ve finally got it down. Now I can pretty much pack their lunchboxes without drinking coffee first. And that’s saying something!

The kids love helping me pack their lunchboxes. They get so excited about what they’ll get to eat that day at school and they get a kick out of promising me that they’re going to eat their fruits and veggies before their “dessert”.

Aim for Sustainable

I started out packing them sack lunches with all these little baggies of food. What was I thinking? So wasteful and probably a bit overwhelming for them come lunchtime.

A friend of mine recommended these bento lunchbox containers from Pottery Barn Kids so I ran out and got three of them along with the monogrammed lunch bags to carry them in. These bento boxes are awesome! The compartments are so great for helping me make sure I include a healthy variety of foods in good portions.

They’re so easy to wash in the dishwasher and perfect for the boys to eat right out of during lunchtime. We’ve had them for over 5 years now and they have held up so great.

6 Great School Lunchbox Ideas

Buying in Bulk

To make packing lunches as easy as possible and to have plenty of food on hand to pack three lunchboxes five days a week, I try to buy as much in bulk as possible. I love Costco for this because they have so many great healthy, kid-friendly items to choose from. Here’s a glimpse of some of the lunchbox staples I buy at Costco.

6 Great School Lunchbox Ideas

How Much Will They Eat?

Our school is so great about leaving any uneaten food in the lunchboxes so I know what they ate and didn’t eat that day at lunch. This has helped me so much in learning what are actually good things to pack in their lunches.

If your school doesn’t do this, ask them if they wouldn’t mind so you actually know what and how much they’re eating. The boys usually don’t have much left in their lunchboxes these days, but if they do, I actually have them eat it as their snack when we get home from school instead of throwing it away.

Simple Ideas to Bring the Cute

Make them feel special with these super easy and super cute touches that they’ll love finding in their daily lunch.

  • Banana-grams: Write a sweet message on the banana peel with a sharpie. It takes just a few seconds and is sure to bring a smile to their faces.
  • Festive Babybel cheeses: Cut festive shapes out of the red wax using mini cookie cutters (hearts, stars, flowers).
  • Funny Face Mandarin orange: Decorate an orange or mandarin orange with a Sharpie. Silly faces or even a simple smiley face can turn an okay day into a great day.
  • Fun shaped foods: Use cookie cutters to cut sandwiches, fruits and veggies in to fun shapes

Fun and Healthy School Lunch Ideas for Kids

Over the years, I’ve gotten lunch boxes down to a science. I keep a rotating menu of ingredients the kids love so I can quickly pull together fun, healthy and easy school lunches I know they’ll love. The kids love the variety and I love the ease! Here are some of our favorite combinations.

A lunch box with fruit arranged in a rainbow and a banana that says Happy First Day of School. Mini pancakes, scrambled eggs and sliced strawberries in a lunch box. A star shaped cheese sandwich, star shaped cheese slices on pretzels.

A Heart-y Meal

  • Heart Shaped Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwich
  • Heart Shaped Crackers
  • Heart Shaped Strawberries
  • Babybel cheese with a heart shape pressed out of the red wax
  • Banana-gram – a heart and “I LOVE YOU!” written on the banana peel with a Sharpie
A lunch container with a heart sandwich, heart crackers, and a heart shaped strawberry.

Over the Rainbow

  • “Clouds” – peanut butter banana tortilla roll-ups
  • Rainbow:
    • Red – strawberries
    • Orange – mandarin oranges
    • Yellow – mango chunks
    • Green – green grapes
    • Blue – blueberries
  • Funny Face Mandarin orange – decorated with a Sharpie
  • Banana-gram – “Happy 1st Day!” written on the banana peel with a Sharpie 
A lunch box with fruit arranged in a rainbow and a banana that says Happy First Day of School

My Star Student

A star shaped cheese sandwich, star shaped cheese slices on pretzels.

The Brunch Box

Mini pancakes, scrambled eggs and sliced strawberries in a lunch box.

Greek to Me

  • Mini hummus packet
  • Whole wheat pita
  • Baby carrots
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Cheese
  • Fruit
  • Mini granola bar
6 Great School Lunchbox Ideas

Peanut Butter & Banana Classic

  • Peanut butter & banana sandwich on whole wheat bread (if your school is peanut-free, try sunflower seed butter, apple butter, another nut butter such as almond butter, etc.)
  • Fruit
  • Pretzel chips
  • Applesauce pack
  • Animal crackers
6 Great School Lunchbox Ideas

Southwest Flair

6 Great School Lunchbox Ideas

Breakfast For Lunch

6 Great School Lunchbox Ideas

Grilled Cheese, If You Please

6 Great School Lunchbox Ideas

Yogurt Parfait

Build your own parfait with:

  • Greek yogurt
  • Granola and cheerios
  • Fruit
  • Toast
  • Yogurt covered raisins
6 Great School Lunchbox Ideas

Tips & Tricks:

  • If your kids are little, you can cut their cherry tomatoes and grapes in half and steam the carrots to make them easier and safer for them to eat.
  • Make the quesadillas and grilled cheese sandwiches the night before to save time in the morning. I’ll make them while I’m making dinner or cleaning up from dinner and just store them in the refrigerator overnight. Most of the time though, I just make them while I’m making breakfast.
  • Pack lunch boxes the night before and store them in the refrigerator overnight if you have room. We don’t normally have room for four lunchboxes in the fridge.
  • Use leftovers! I occasionally use leftovers in lunch boxes like mac & cheese, pizza taquitos, muffins, baked chicken nuggets, hotdogs, etc., just for variety. These foods taste great at room temperature.

I hope these ideas help make your life a little easier when it comes to packing lunches and hopefully your kiddos will love their lunches too! If you use any of these fun and healthy lunchbox combos, be sure to tag me on Instagram @thebakermama so I can see! 😍 I just love seeing how inspired and creative y’all get with the ideas I share. Enjoy!


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About The BakerMama

Maegan is the author of her best-selling Beautiful Boards, Spectacular Spreads and Brilliant Bites cookbooks. She started blogging in 2012 and features hundreds of original recipes on The BakerMama. She truly enjoys sharing her easy, family-friendly recipes, creative meal ideas, food board creations, and entertaining spreads to encourage others to get in the kitchen and make something memorable for their loved ones to enjoy together. Learn More

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  1. I really, really am thankful I came across this post. I have one son going to Kindergarten and the other son Pre-School (both full day requiring lunches) … then I am home all day with my 2 year old son! I feel like I can prepare all 3 lunches in the morning — maybe even one for me too — and have something to kind of follow. I feel like I am always at a loss for things they like! THANK YOU!

    1. Hi Javin! Yay! I’m so happy to hear you find these lunchbox ideas helpful. They’ve been our go-to for years with pre-school and now elementary school. It’s so nice to have several options to choose from and mix things up with. And I’m the same way with fixing a lunch for myself when I’ve got a really busy day ahead of me. Enjoy and best wishes for a great school year for your little ones!

  2. We will survive. I love that. I have two now, but the baby will need a lunch soon enough so this visual is very helpful. I used your PB links to purchase some bentos. Xo

    1. Hi Lindsey! I either send the fresh cooked leftover pancakes from that morning’s breakfast or cold pancakes straight out of the fridge from a previous morning’s breakfast. By the time they eat them, they’re room temperature. Hope this helps. Pancakes for lunch are a favorite for all of my kids. 🙂

  3. Does the cheese require an ice pack? Does the bread become soggy? These are great ideas and we frequent Costco, so this is helpful. Thanks!

    1. Hi Aarti! I don’t include an ice pack in my kids’ lunch boxes, but you certainly could. We have not experienced soggy bread. The grilled cheese and toast are certainly not as crisp/toasty as when first packed, but they still taste great and my kids eat them. Hope this helps! Enjoy!

  4. I always trying to manage my kitchen tasks and prepring kid’s lunch box before the time. Always find the way in which I can make a delicious, nutritious & wholesome lunch box for my kids every day in under ten minutes. Your ideas of preparing lunch box helps me for next seven days schedule.

  5. I have pinned this for future reference. My baby is about to start school and I wonder what to pack her. I don’t want to pack her lunches like I used to get as a kid…soggy Wonder bread with mayo and a limp piece of bologna and American cheese.

  6. I love those bento box lunch bags, Maegen! So many great ideas! My son is starting school in September so this is so so helpful 🙂

  7. This is such a good post! Even though I have a few years before I have to pack lunches, I have a ‘big kid’ that needs lunches! An that leftover whole wheat pancake lunch? I will gladly take!

  8. I don’t have any kids in school just yet, almost have a preschooler though and am loving these ideas!

  9. I need to step up my lunchbox game! I’m also pretty jealous that your kids are such good eaters!

  10. So many great ideas! I love the bento style boxes too, so much better for packing lunches and then you don’t end up with 18 dishes to wash every day! Also, I’m a teeny bit jealous that you can send PB sandwiches to school – sometimes that quick PB&J would be awesome to be able to whip up when I forget to make them ahead of time! 🙂

  11. This is a great post! My daughter starts school in September and I am excited but worried about packing her lunch. Now I cannot wait to do it!

  12. The lunch boxes are awesome. I was just trying to decide if we needed a new one for next year. Is there room to fit an ice pack? My daughter does not eat much at lunch but I think she would love your system.

    1. Hi Christie! The lunch bags that the boxes fit into definitely have room for an ice pack. I’ve put one in there before when we’ve gone to the zoo or a picnic at the park to keep the food cool in the heat until it was time to eat.

  13. I think I want one of those bento lunch boxes for myself! I like your system of having 6 different options, definitely helps with the chaos!