35 days of school lunch recipes

Packing school lunches can be a drag, we get it. Here are our solutions to beat the lunch bag blues.

By Today's Parent
35 days of school lunch recipes

Are you already running out of lunch ideas for school? The kids complaining about eating the same ham sandwich every day? No stress, we’ll take the lead! Whether you’re packing for an adventurous foodie or a classic picky eater, we have a recipe for you. Click through the slides for 35 fun new lunch ideas to send your kids to school with.

Tofu Croutons

Extra-firm tofu makes a happy home under a thick coating of panko crumbs. Kids will love these nuggets that are crispy, delicious and fun to dip. Get the recipe: Crispy Tofu Nuggets

plate of breaded tofu croutons with dipPhoto: Erik Putz

Maple carrot soup

This carrot soup calls for a swirl: pack some sour cream your kids can dollop on top and then (carefully) drag a toothpick or spoon through it to create a fun design. Get the recipe: Maple Carrot Soup

lunch idea for school bowl of carrot soup with bacon


Rainbow Veggie Quinoa Bowl

There’s a lot going on in this quinoa bowl. But crispy apple, shredded carrots, beets and a hard-boiled egg all get along nicely with the herb dressing. Get the recipe: Rainbow Veggie Quinoa Bowl

quinoa bowl with grated veggies, hardboiled egg and dressingPhoto: Erik Putz

Ginger Beef Rice Bowl

Create your own better-than-takeout rice bowl at home. Juicy ginger beef, hardboiled eggs and all the veggies are nice and cozy atop this hearty bowl. Get the recipe: Ginger Beef Rice Bowl

rice bowl with ground beef, hardboiled eggs and shredded veggiesPhoto: Erik Putz

Cold Sesame Soba Noodle Dish

Kick this dish up a notch by adding grilled shrimp or leftover shredded chicken or beef. Get the recipe: Cold Sesame Soba Noodle Dish

plate of soba noodle salad with peppersPhoto: Erik Putz


Make-Ahead Lentil Chili

Minimum prep for maximum payoff: a warm, hearty bowl of chili to slurp up at lunch. Get the recipe: Make-Ahead Lentil Chili

enamel bowl filled with chunky veggie chiliPhoto: Roberto Caruso

Chana Masala

This simple chickpea curry assembles quickly and results in a flavourful, inexpensive meal that provides a complete protein. Get the recipe: Chana Masala

plate of chickpea chana masala with naan

One-Pot Mac and Cheese

You won’t believe how simple this creamy recipe is to pull together. Get the recipe: One-Pot Mac and Cheese

thermos with mac and cheese with peasPhoto: Erik Putz


Red Pepper Falafel Cakes

Protein-packed falafels are easy to make at home. Stuff them in a pita pocket for a quick lunch. Get the recipe: Red Pepper Falafel Cakes

bento lunch box with falafel in pita, carrot salad and dipPhoto: Erik Putz

Vietnamese Roast Chicken & Salad Rolls

Easy to make and fun to dip. We love the simplicity of this meal and its ability to use up leftovers and odds and ends.  Get the recipe: Vietnamese Roast Chicken & Salad Rolls>

Vietnamese roast Chicken and salad rolls in a bento boxPhoto: Erik Putz

Homemade Apple-Cinnamon Instant Oatmeal

Fill them up good with this homemade rendition of instant oatmeal. Get the recipe: Homemade Apple-Cinnamon Instant Oatmeal

thermos of apple cinnamon oatmealPhoto: Erik Putz


Quick Margherita Pizza

This recipe is so quick and easy that you’ll want to make it as often as your family wants to eat it! Try baking it in the oven or grilled on the barbecue. Get the recipe: Quick Margherita Pizza

bento box with pizza, fig, chocolate, veggies and fruitPhoto: Erik Putz

Magic Quinoa

Rushed mornings are no match for this protein-packed recipe. The quinoa cooks in the Thermos. Get the recipe: Magic Quinoa

Quinoa in a thermosPhoto: Erik Putz

Zucchini and Feta Frittata

Simple and delicious, this healthy and wholesome frittata is perfect as a snack or meal. Get the recipe: Zucchini and Feta Frittata

Zucchini and feta frittata in a bento boxPhoto: Erik Putz


Turkey and Zucchini Meatballs

Packed with hidden veggies, these mini meatballs will keep little learners full-up until dinner. Get the recipe: Turkey and Zucchini Meatballs

thermos filled with meatballs and veggiesPhoto: Erik Putz

Lacey-Edged Latkes

Easy fried latkes make a fun lunchbox companion. Add hummus and veggies on the side for protein. Get the recipe: Lacey-Edged Latkes

Lacey-edged latkes in a bento boxPhoto: Erik Putz

Easy Buttermilk Waffles

Make extra waffles on the weekend, freeze and reheat in the toaster before sticking them in the bento box. Get the recipe: Easy Buttermilk Waffles

buttermilk waffles in a bento boxPhoto: Erik Putz


“Fried” Chicken Fingers

You don’t have to feel guilty about these tender chicken fingers. They’ve got the satisfying flavour of fried, but are baked in the oven. Get the recipe: “Fried” Chicken Fingers

35 days of school lunch recipesPhoto: Erik Putz

Curried Lentil-Coconut Soup

Pack along whole-wheat pita to sop up this creamy soup. Get the recipe: Curried Lentil-Coconut Soup

thermos filled with lentil soupPhoto: Erik Putz

Beef Satay with Thai Dipping Sauce

This allergy-friendly take on beef satay uses soy nut butter in the dipping sauce, so it’s safe for those allergic to peanuts and treenuts. Get the recipe: Beef Satay with Thai Dipping Sauce

bento box with beef skewers and dipping saucePhoto: Erik Putz


Primavera Pasta Salad

Cold, slurpy noodles are an easy go-to lunch. The kids will be asking for it every day. Get the recipe: Primavera Pasta Salad

Primavera Pasta Salad on a spoonPhoto: Maya Visnyei

Banana Sushi

Need a quick lunch that the kids will actually eat? Try Banana Sushi—it’s healthy and yummy. Get the recipe: Banana Sushi


Banana sushi in a bento boxPhoto: Maggie Naylor

Homemade Alphabet Pasta

One of the easiest lunches you can pack, this alphabet pasta will fill them up good. Make it the night before and simply reheat for the Thermos. Get the recipe: Homemade Alphabet Pasta>

bento box with saucy alphabet pasta insidePhoto: Roberto Caruso


BLT Waffle-Wich

This lunch combines two of kids’ loves: waffles and bacon for one surprising sandwich. To pack, place pieces of waxed paper or foil between all layers to keep them fresh and wrap sandwich in parchment. Pack mayo separately in its own mini squirt bottle. Before eating, remove waxed paper or foil and squirt mayo onto waffle.

Get the recipe: BLT Waffle-Wich>

lunch ideas for schoolPhoto: Roberto Caruso

Sweet-and-Sour Meatballs on Rice

A warm, Thermos lunch is as comforting as it gets—especially when there are mini meatballs and saucy rice inside. Get the recipe: Sweet-and-Sour Meatballs on Rice>

thermos filled with meatballsPhoto: Roberto Caruso

Ham-and-Cheese Pinwheels

A new spin on ham and cheese, these yummy pinwheels have lunch all rolled up.

Get the recipe: Ham-and-Cheese Pinwheels>

baked dough rolled up with ham and cheese insidePhoto: Roberto Caruso


High-Protein Smoothie

Parents of picky eaters rejoice! This smoothie is a cleaver cheat.

Get the recipe: High Protein Smoothie>

glass of thick purple smoothiePhoto: Roberto Caruso

Pressed Italian Picnic Sandwich

Making one sandwich that serves six is the correct answer to busy school mornings. Get the recipe: Pressed Italian Picnic Sandwich>

Pressed italian sandwichPhoto: Maya Visnyei

Calzones with Turkey Kielbasa

Make ahead and freeze for easy, homemade pizza pockets anytime. Get the recipe: Calzones with Turkey Kielbasa>

filling a calzone with cheese and veggiesPhoto: Rob Caruso


Pulled Pork Sandwiches

Tender pulled pork is yummy hot or cold, making it a perfectly totable lunch.  Get the recipe: Pulled Pork Sandwiches>

Pulled pork SandwichPhoto: Jodi Pudge

Whole Wheat Pasta with Kale and Red Pepper Pesto

Another perfect dinner that translates well into a cold meal the next day. Get the recipe: Whole Wheat Pasta with Kale and Red Pepper Pesto>

plate of pasta with basil and tomatoes

Mini Meatball Subs

If your little one won’t eat cold meatballs, warm them up and store them in the Thermos and let them assemble their own sub at lunch time.

Get the recipe: Mini Meatball Subs>

mini meatball subsPhoto: Andrew Grinton


Tuna Melt Calzones

These tasty calzones are super yummy and super filling. If your little one doesn’t like spinach, feel free to omit.  Get the recipe: Tuna Melt Calzones>

calzones and carrot slawPhoto: Andrew Grinton

Penne with Sautéed Sausage & Kale

Delicious warm or cold, pack this baby in a Thermos or on ice for a yummy lunch room meal. 

Get the recipe: Penne with Sautéed Sausage & Kale>

thermos filled with pasta and sausage and kalePhoto: Jodi Pudge

Rotisserie Chicken Gyro

In this easy and kid-friendly recipe, storebought rotisserie chicken is transformed by sautéeing it quickly with garlic and herbs. Get the recipe: Rotisserie Chicken Gyro>

Rotisserie Chicken GyroPhoto: Maya Visnyei

Read more: 8 handy on-the-go snack recipes 15 better-than-takeout recipes 90 adorable lunch bags and accessories

This article was originally published on Aug 28, 2019

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