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

  • alia koch
    July 28, 2015

    water, cheese, crackers, fruit, sandwich

    Reply

  • Binsy
    July 28, 2015

    Hi Natasha! I always start the year with wonderful ideas of healthy home made lunches but by week 2, the kids are taking pbj, pbnutella, or ham sandwiches. At least pb and jelly is organic and bread is of good quality 🙂 How is your baby doing??

    She’s doing great! Thanks for asking :). Happy, healthy and such a joy to us. 🙂 – Natasha

    Reply

  • Gaby D
    July 28, 2015

    I don’t have kids, but I pack my lunch almost everyday to save money (and pounds). I usually pack leftovers, a salad with vinaigrette and a fiber brownie. These are great ideas for kids’ lunches that I can use in the future.

    Reply

  • Christina
    July 28, 2015

    I like to pack fruit.

    Reply

  • Lilia
    July 28, 2015

    My oldest can be a picky eater. For lunch he prefers to have a peanut butter and jam sandwich. I also liked to put in fresh fruit like blueberries, grapes, or apple slices. All my kids love to take yogurt or string cheese. One thing I’ve also done for a hot lunch using a thermos for my older kids was hot dogs. I boiled the hot dogs and then placed it in thermos, then filled the thermos with hot water. In their lunch box I would place the bun and packet of ketchup. This was always a treat for them (Before I ever did this we tried this at a picnic to the park and they love it and asked for me to pack hot dogs for lunch)

    Reply

  • Anastasiya
    July 27, 2015

    I would pack a chicken sandwich , some fruit, and veggies

    Reply

  • Virginia
    July 27, 2015

    My favorite thing to pack is my DIY freezer burritos with avocado slices and salsa on the side.

    Reply

  • Yana L
    July 27, 2015

    https://mobile.twitter.com/yanalyfar/status/625859847913758720

    Reply

  • Yana L
    July 27, 2015

    I pack my lunch and husbands lunch almost everyday, I like to put different variety of food even though my husband is not picky. So usually it’s sandwiches, leftover dinner from day before, salad, yogurt, fruits and veggies, snack or protein bar, trail mix, hard boiled eggs. I try to pick 3 things out of the list and mix it up everyday.

    Reply

  • Kel
    July 27, 2015

    These are great ideas and pictures. When my son is old enough next year I will definitely try out your tips – I love the lunchable idea with cucumbers.

    Reply

  • Katie
    July 27, 2015

    This might come as a shock but my daughter prefers pelmeni, borsh as her favorite lunch. I also pack ppj, spaghetti and meatballs, Mac and cheese. 🙂

    Reply

  • Galina
    July 27, 2015

    Natasha thank you so much for this post!! My son will be starting kindergarten this coming school year and I am determined to pack him healthy lunches… Your post gave me some great ideas!

    Reply

  • Tonya Atkinson
    July 27, 2015

    https://twitter.com/TonyaAtki/status/625823810286166016

    Reply

  • Tonya Atkinson
    July 27, 2015

    I like to pack yogurt fresh fruit. Granola in some form and other favorites

    Reply

  • Oksana
    July 27, 2015

    We do homeschool now. So awesome I get to monitor what they’re eating. When we started with them at public school for first and 2nd grade, we ended up having out daughter buy lunch. Just like your son, she was bringing back almost her full lunchbox home! But fortunately our public school in WA state required that they get unlimited salad bar and always a requirement that kids put at least 2-3? fruit servings on their plates. Problem was, our school made everything fat free or reduced fat (our kids are skinny and they needed that fat) and I think that somewhat modified taste of food.

    But this year for homeschool I will also try out serving them “school lunch foods” that you just showed on here. They look fun. I want to do more picnics while its warm, and the trays look so perfect for that to preportion everyone’s food. Where did you get them?

    Reply

  • Kristen
    July 27, 2015

    tweeted
    https://twitter.com/rubylorikeet/status/625805557862002691

    Reply

  • Kristen
    July 27, 2015

    My favorite thing to pack is grilled chicken, salsa, and avocado in pita and some fresh fruit.

    Reply

  • Dorina
    July 27, 2015

    Home lunches are way better and healthier than school lunches. I feel good when i know my child ate a nutritious meal.thanks for the great tips!

    Reply

  • LaTanya
    July 27, 2015

    https://twitter.com/sweetums82/status/625783550541860864

    Reply

  • LaTanya
    July 27, 2015

    I like to pack salads or sandwiches and apple slices

    Reply

As Featured On

Never Go "Hangry" Again!

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