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New ideas for sandwiches, wraps, mini-pizzas and more tasty lunch recipes for kids.
1 of 22 Image Credits: JON WHITTLE
Honey, Almond Butter & Banana
Spread 2 slices of whole-wheat bread with almond butter or peanut butter. Top 1 bread slice with a drizzle of honey (for kids 1 and up) and a layer of banana slices. Cover with the other slice, butter side down.
2 of 22 Image Credits: JON WHITTLE
Pear & Avocado
Mash 1/2 ripe avocado in a bowl. Add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and season to taste with salt and pepper. Spread the avocado evenly on 2 slices of sourdough bread. Add a layer of thinly sliced Bosc or Asian pear to 1 bread slice. Cover with the other slice and press gently to adhere. Swap in pomegranate seeds for the pear, if you like.
3 of 22 Image Credits: JON WHITTLE
Apple, Cheddar & Peanut Butter
Split a focaccia square in half crosswise. Spread the cut side of 1 half with peanut butter. Top with a layer of cheddar-cheese slices and then a layer of thin apple slices. Cover with the other half, cut side down and press gently.
4 of 22 Image Credits: JON WHITTLE
Strawberry & Goat Cheese
Split an English muffin and lightly toast the halves. Spread each half with softened goat cheese or plain whipped cream cheese. Top with a thin layer of strawberry jam, followed by a layer of thin strawberry slices. Place the top half of the muffin over the bottom half, and press gently.
5 of 22 Image Credits: JON WHITTLE
Slice It Right
If it seems like that sandwich you packed in the morning makes a soggy return uneaten in the afternoon, swap in Pepperidge Farm Goldfish—shaped bread. It'll remind him of a familiar snack and get him to eat up. $3 to $4; grocery stores. Try our Healthy Lunch Maker Tool for more more kid-friendly ideas.
6 of 22 Image Credits: LAURA HINELY
Leave a Message
Whoever said you can't package hugs and kisses? Surprise your little scholar by tucking a love note into her lunch box so she knows you're thinking about her even though you're far away. And you'll know that every day at 12:30 p.m., she's reading your note and thinking of you, too!
7 of 22 Image Credits: LAURA HINELY
Cut It Out
Turn the ordinary lunch-box staple into a menagerie of animals with these sandwich cutters. Check out Munchkin's elephant cutter, above ($3; Walmart stores).
8 of 22 Image Credits: BECKY LUIGART-STAYNER
Spread dollop of store-bought hummus on whole-wheat tortilla, then layer a slice of turkey and some spinach leaves. Roll up and cut.
Pack it up: Svenja Lunch Box, $34, beatrixny.com; Small Round Containers, $16 for two, kidskonserve.com; Light My Fire Spork Little, $7 for three, amazon.com; Teacher's Pet Picnic Pouch, $7, oonae.com; White Traveler water bottle, $25, mysigg.com
9 of 22 Image Credits: BECKY LUIGART-STAYNER
Egg Salad Sandwich
Serves 1 to 2
Mix two crushed hard-boiled eggs, ½ tsp mustard, 1 tsp mayo(or plain yogurt) and salt and pepper to taste. Serve on whole-wheat or multigrain bread.
Pack it up: Maxi Storage Box in Blue, $36, mysigg.com; Sigg Cuddle Monsters water bottle, $20, mysigg.com; Light My Fire Spork Little, $7 for three, amazon.com; Jam Session Picnic Pouch, $7, oonae.com; Snack Disk, $6, oxo.com; large and small bowl set, $10, oxo.com
10 of 22 Image Credits: BECKY LUIGART-STAYNER
Mix 6 oz cooked tricolor rotini pasta, ½ Tbsp melted butter, ½ cup cooked peas, 2/3 cup quartered cherry tomatoes and saltand pepper to taste.
Pack it up: Frog Zoo Lunchies, $13, skiphop.com; Large Round Containers, $19 for two, and thermos, $21, kidskonserve.com; Love, Not Waste hand Towel, $7, peopletowels.com; Beverage Bottle With Solid Cap, Spring Green 9 oz, $13, lifefactory.com; Light My Fire Spork little, $7 for three, amazon.com
11 of 22 Image Credits: PHOTO BY BRIAN KELLY (CC LICENSED)
Pita-Butter and Jelly
If your child's main food staple is PB&J, but peanut butter is a no-no at her school, here's a peanut-free option. Substitute butter or cream cheese in for peanut butter and spread on whole-wheat pita bread. Top with jelly, or if she loves apple pie, try cinnamony apple butter.
Hard-boiled egg (If you child hates the yolk, serve two servings of egg whites instead.)
Squeezable yogurt tube
Sliced grapes & sliced grape tomatoes
12 of 22 Image Credits:
I Heart Turkey
A plain ol' turkey sandwich gets a little love with this Thanksgiving-inspired, heart-shaped version. (Kid not a heart-lover? Stars or dinosaur shapes work, too.) Spread a thin layer of cranberry sauce on two pieces of whole wheat bread. Layer two slices of roasted turkey breast and sliced cheese. Use a cookie cutter to cut the sandwich into the shape of a heart.
Baby carrots with ranch dressing dip
Squeezable applesauce tube
13 of 22 Image Credits: PHOTO BY ANGUS FRASER (CC LICENSED)
Let your little chef test his culinary skills by packing the ingredients to a sandwich á la Lunchables. Assembling his own meal right at the lunch table may inspire him to eat it as well. Slice lunch meat and cheese into small squares. Serve with whole-grain crackers and individual packets of mayonnaise or mustard.
Pear or apple slices (squeeze a bit of lemon juice on them to prevent browning)
Store-bought cinnamon pita chips
14 of 22 Image Credits: PHOTO BY JENNIFER (JSPATCHWORK) (CC LICENSED)
This kid-favorite gets a healthy makeover to fuel your child's busy body all day long. Make these the night before to save time in the morning. Top English muffin halves with jarred marinara sauce (if your child won't object, add chopped steamed broccoli or spinach to the sauce.) Sprinkle pre-shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese on top. Bake at 350 degrees for 5 minutes. Let cool, then wrap up.
One half cup of blueberries
Individual chocolate pudding
15 of 22 Image Credits: PHOTO BY YOPPY ON FLICKR (CC LICENSED)
Brunch for Lunch
Who says French toast and eggs are just for breakfast? This traditional morning meal makes a power-packed lunch. Feel free to make these the night before. French toast cinnamon sticks: Add pureed squash or sweet potatoes to egg-milk batter for an extra boost of beta-carotene. Cook French toast and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar mixture. Let cool and slice into sticks for an easy-to-eat fork-free option.
Hard-boiled egg (If you child hates the yolk, serve two servings of egg whites instead.)
1/2-cup fruit salad
16 of 22 Image Credits: VEER
An under-the-sea adventure right in your child's very own lunchbox: Tuna fish sandwich shaped like a fish. Cut a corner off of the bread and reverse it, placing the point at the middle of the cut line. Use a round slice of baby carrot for the eye.)
Baby carrots (Write "Fish Food" on the plastic bag)
Blue-raspberry "water"—an individual Jell-O container
Mini goldfish-shaped cheese crackers
17 of 22 Image Credits: PHOTO BY PETER LINDBERG (CC LICENSED)
While your child would no doubt enjoy diving into a meal of sticky sweet fruit leather, this guilt-free version offers nutrients and energy to keep her going for the second half of the school day.
Spread blueberry or strawberry-flavored cream cheese on a whole-wheat tortilla wrap. Top with fresh blueberries or sliced strawberries and roll tortilla.
Small container of hummus
Celery sticks and sliced cucumbers for dipping
A real fruit roll-up for dessert
18 of 22 Image Credits:
Kid-friendly Chicken Salad
Sliced grapes and cubed apples add sweetness to plain old chicken salad. If your child eats nuts, add crushed cashews for extra crunch. Serve in a small container with whole wheat crackers or flatbreads.
Cook-free S'Mores: Spread Marshmallow Fluff on one graham cracker square, nutella on the other and press together and enjoy!
19 of 22 Image Credits: PHOTO BY JESSICA (WORDRIDDEN) (CC LICENSED)
A colorful, super-healthy lunch choice. Spread white bean dip on a whole-wheat or spinach tortilla wrap. Layer with lettuce, sliced tomato, cheese, thinly sliced cucumber (or pickle if your child is a fan), avocado and other favorite vegetables. Roll up the tortilla. Then slice into 4 1-inch cross-sections to make the wheels.
20 of 22 Image Credits: PHOTO BY JOHN (STAR5112) (CC LICENSED)
Kids love finger foods—why not serve up a whole meal of uniform, easy-to-eat cubes? Serve with a toothpick if your little one doesn't want to use his hands.
Cubed rotisserie chicken
Cubed cheddar cheese
Cubed sweet potato (microwave the whole potato for 8 minutes, let cool, then cut.)
Cubed brownie bites
21 of 22 Image Credits: THE LUNCH BOX BY WELDON OWEN PUBLISHING
Ham and veggie pinwheels
Pinwheels aren't just cute toys. Try these tasty sandwich alternatives.
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Don't forget the snacks!
It's always a good idea to toss some after-school snacks in their lunchbox, too. Stock your pantry with these delicious and nutritious munchies, sure to keep them happy until dinner.
Brain Snacks for Kids
These yummy, healthy treats make great back-to-school snacks
7 No-Mess Snacks
These neat eats are yummy, healthy and easy to clean up
7 Delish Snack Mixes
Salty pretzels, cheesy crackers, protein-packed nuts, sweet raisins and more—all mixed up for some yummy snack packs
6 Naturally Sweet Treats
Your kids will love these dessert-like snacks—just don't tell them how healthy they are!
7 Snacks that Teach
Kids can learn about numbers, letters, colors and even bugs with these yummy treats
8 Fruity Snacks Kids Love
They see: cookies, gummies and chips. Yum! You see: fiber, vitamins and calcium. Score!
7 Healthy Kid-Friendly Dips
Kids will have fun getting their fruits and veggies with these yummy sauces and spreads
7 Snacks That Won't Spoil Dinner
Stave off "when's dinner?!" whining with these nutritious treats