You'll want to pin these practical School Lunch Ideas. Cold and hot lunches your kids will actually eat! | natashaskitchen.com

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy.

When my son started school, I was determined to pack him healthy, nutritious and satisfying lunches. Without me hovering over him while he ate, he brought his fancy sandwiches right back home, sometimes untouched. I could see he wasn’t really into what I packed for him.

After he brought several lunches back, I resorted to ordering food at school, but that never sat well with me since they weren’t very balanced meals – very little fruit or veggies. And, I could never tell if he actually ate his lunch.

Then I got creative. Read on for great (easy) lunch ideas for cold and hot school lunches your kids will actually eat and you’ll feel good about. Thank you to Shamrock Farms for sponsoring this post!

One of our favorite easy lunches to pack (and make ahead) are tortilla pinwheels and I’ve included the print-friendly recipe for those below!).

P.S. Don’t miss our new lunch ideas post for 2017! 

Update on the Lunchbox:

For first grade, my son started using this Planet Box lunchbox (affiliate link).

PlanetBox Lunch Box-2

Start with the drink:

1. Milk: my son’s drink of choice so I always make sure he has milk for lunch.

2. Juice – select a juice box that has reduced sugar and real fruit juice

Practical School Lunch Ideas-6

School Lunch Main Course (Grains & Meats):

1. DIY “lunchables”: crackers, deli turkey or salami, sliced cheese

2. Sandwich or sandwich kabobs: disguise their sandwich by threading turkey, cubed string cheese, and squares of bread on skewers.

3. Mini bagels and cream cheese

4. Easy chicken sliders (canned chicken – drained well and mixed with mayo and black pepper to taste, place filling between lettuce and cheese to keep the bun from getting soggy)

5. Tortilla pinwheels (cream cheese, sliced cheese, deli turkey, thinly sliced tomatoes, shredded lettuce or spinach – roll tightly and slice into rounds). Get the print-friendly recipe for tortilla pinwheels below.

You'll want to pin these practical School Lunch Ideas. Cold and hot lunches your kids will actually eat! | natashaskitchen.com

School Lunch Fruit:

1. Small banana

2. Grapes

3. Blueberries, strawberries or other berries

4. Fruit kabobs

5. Apricot, apple,.. whatever your kids love

6. Applesauce 7. Peeled clementines

School Lunch Veggies:

1. Baby carrots with ranch in mini cups

2. Cucumber slices

3. Snap peas

4. Salad (romaine, cheese, croutons, side of ranch)

5. Avocado slices (to prevent browning: slice flesh into bite-sized pieces inside the skin, scoop out flesh and replace into shell, drizzle with lemon juice, cover tightly with plastic wrap)

You'll want to pin these practical School Lunch Ideas. Cold and hot lunches your kids will actually eat! | natashaskitchen.com

School Lunch Snacks and Treats:

1. Banana bread (Here is my husbands perfect banana bread)

2. Yogurt

3. Pudding

4. String cheese

5. Pretzels, or gold fish crackers

6. Fruit snacks or fruit leather

7. Dried fruit (raisins, craisins, banana or apple chips)

8. Z-Bar or fruit bars

9. Muffin

10. Chocolate chip cookie (click for soft homemade cookies)

12. DIY trail mix

You'll want to pin these practical School Lunch Ideas. Cold and hot lunches your kids will actually eat! | natashaskitchen.com

Here are some winning lunch combinations:

You'll want to pin these practical School Lunch Ideas. Cold and hot lunches your kids will actually eat! | natashaskitchen.com

[DIY “lunchables”, cucumber slices, grapes, yogurt]

You'll want to pin these practical School Lunch Ideas. Cold and hot lunches your kids will actually eat! | natashaskitchen.com

[chicken slider, salad with ranch, trail mix, banana]

You'll want to pin these practical School Lunch Ideas. Cold and hot lunches your kids will actually eat! | natashaskitchen.com

[turkey sandwich kabobs, carrots & ranch, apricot, pudding]

You'll want to pin these practical School Lunch Ideas. Cold and hot lunches your kids will actually eat! | natashaskitchen.com

[mini bagel with cream cheese, snap peas, strawberries, fruit leather, string cheese]

You'll want to pin these practical School Lunch Ideas. Cold and hot lunches your kids will actually eat! | natashaskitchen.com

[tortilla pinwheels, sliced avocado, blueberries, banana chips]

Hot Lunch Ideas (with a Thermos):

Tips for using a thermos: *We recommend the Thermos Foogo 10 oz or Thermos Funtainer 10 oz: *Pack hot thermos in the morning (5 hours before it’s eaten) *Heat the thermos first: add boiling water, cover and let sit 5 min then drain. Heat food until it’s hot. Place into heated thermos and close tightly with lid. Food will be warm at lunchtime.

What to put in a hot lunch thermos:

1. Soup (try: chicken noodle soup or Mom’s meatball soup)

2. Pasta (try: chicken alfredo or spaghetti with shrimp)

3. Pilaf/rice, or stir fry (try: creamy chicken and rice, or shrimp fried rice)

4. Leftovers! You can really get creative with a thermos. Just avoid foods with overwhelming aromas (i.e. broccoli and cabbage).

Natasha's Kitchen Cookbook

Tortilla Pinwheels Recipe (School Lunch Idea)

4.91 from 55 votes
Author: Natasha of NatashasKitchen.com
Homemade Pinwheels are the easiest make-ahead school lunch idea. A kid-friendly easy lunch idea. 
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients 

Servings: 1 pinwheel roll

Tortilla Pinwheels

  • 1 flour tortilla
  • 2 Tbsp cream cheese
  • 1 slice mozarella cheese, (or your favorite cheese)
  • 1 oz turkey deli meat , (2 slices)
  • 1/4 cup shredded lettuce, (or spinach leaves)
  • 1/4 tomato, thinly sliced

Instructions

  • Spread cream cheese over tortilla. 
  • Add sliced mozzarella and deli meat over the top half of the tortilla followed by shredded lettuce and sliced tomato. 
  • Tightly roll the tortilla from the top downward then slice the roll into rings. 

Nutrition Per Serving

223kcal Calories19g Carbs9g Protein12g Fat6g Saturated Fat41mg Cholesterol646mg Sodium216mg Potassium1g Fiber3g Sugar735IU Vitamin A4.2mg Vitamin C60mg Calcium1.3mg Iron
Nutrition Facts
Tortilla Pinwheels Recipe (School Lunch Idea)
Amount per Serving
Calories
223
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
12
g
18
%
Saturated Fat
 
6
g
38
%
Cholesterol
 
41
mg
14
%
Sodium
 
646
mg
28
%
Potassium
 
216
mg
6
%
Carbohydrates
 
19
g
6
%
Fiber
 
1
g
4
%
Sugar
 
3
g
3
%
Protein
 
9
g
18
%
Vitamin A
 
735
IU
15
%
Vitamin C
 
4.2
mg
5
%
Calcium
 
60
mg
6
%
Iron
 
1.3
mg
7
%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Course: Lunch
Cuisine: American
Keyword: School Lunch Idea, Tortilla Pinwheels
Skill Level: Easy
Cost to Make: $$
Calories: 223

Practical School Lunch Ideas-11

Can you tell by the look in his eye that I promised him candy for this photo? 😉

Natasha Kravchuk

Welcome to my kitchen! I am Natasha, the blogger behind Natasha's Kitchen (since 2009). My husband and I run this blog together and share only our best, family approved and tested recipes with YOU. Thanks for stopping by! We are so happy you're here.

Read more posts by Natasha

Leave a Comment

Recipe Rating




Comments

  • Barbara
    September 12, 2022

    I love your recipes and videos. These are great ideas that I will try for my lunch.

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      September 12, 2022

      Thank you, Barbara! I hope you love these!

      Reply

  • Imelda Cantorna
    August 10, 2022

    I love all your recipes I am following you! I am a fan! Your such a cutie 🥰 and I love your jokes and the way you are! You are a lovely wisp of breeze and sunshine!!! Keep up your good works ! I really love your foods!

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      August 10, 2022

      Thank you, Imelda! That is very kind. I’m so glad you enjoy my recipes. 🙂

      Reply

  • Emily Lisowski
    August 3, 2022

    Hi Natasha,

    My daughter is a vegetarian which makes packing lunch for her a bit challenging. Do you have any ideas for vegetarian school lunches?

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      August 3, 2022

      Hi Emily! I bet there are some great ways to make vegetarian school lunches, but I don’t have anything specific now. I am adding it to my list! Thank you for that suggestion!

      Reply

  • Mercy W.
    June 6, 2022

    Natasha, I found this post to be especially helpful, but for a different reason than you posted: children and work. I’m a senior, so I do not fall under either of these categories, however, our church has Brown Bag fellowships on Sundays after our worship services, several times a month. I’m not big on sandwiches and find myself at times, at a loss as to what to prepare for that time. This lunchbox with dividers and what I call ‘grazing’ foods is right up my alley. 🙂 Thank you for the idea and inspiration!

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      June 6, 2022

      That is wonderful! So glad to hear that.

      Reply

As Featured On

Never Go "Hangry" Again!

Get weekly updates on new recipes, exclusive giveaways plus behind the scenes photos.