Quick, Easy Lunch Ideas for Kids
When We Say ′′Easy Lunches,′′ We Me Mean EASY Lunches
Ever search for ′′easy ______" only to discover a sea of unattainably perfect images? And how about those 13-step instructions that claim to ′′only′′ take a couple of hours, which turns out to be an underestimation?
Yeah, that′s not what this is.
We′re not talking ′′easy′′ as in ′′easy if you′re a professional chef with a high-tech kitchen and three hours of uninterrupted time to kill." We′re not even talking, ′′easy once you get the hang of it."
We′re talking actual, doable kids′ lunch ideas for real people with real, busy lives and possibly even real picky kids.
What EXACTLY do we mean by that?
- No pots or pans needed (let alone fancy contraptions that most people don′t have at home)
- No obscure ingredients that you have to special-order from a store three states away
- No elaborate slicing, dicing, sculpting or arranging skills required
- No serving/eating utensils needed unless you or your kid prefer them
- No big messes to clean up after you prep, and little to no mess when your kid is eating
- No more than a few minutes needed to prep — we PROMISE
Sound good? Cool.
Now let′s get into the specifics, so you can be ready to satisfy pint-sized palates on just about any occasion.
The Secret to Easy Lunch Ideas for Kids
Ready for a truth bomb?
The secret is: There is no secret.
At least not a shocking one, that is. And that′s a good thing! Because, fortunately, quick lunch ideas for kids just don′t have to be that complicated.
Basically, putting together an easy lunch is just about:
- Starting with an almost effortless ′′main dish′′ (We′ve got you covered!)
- Choosing a few equally simple ′′side dishes′′ to complement it
Check out the ideas below, and mix and match as you please.
Extremely Easy ′′Main Dish′′ Ideas
You guessed it: For maximum convenience, we suggest starting with an Uncrustables® product.
But that doesn′t necessarily mean a PB&J.
You may be surprised to find that there are quite a few different types of Uncrustables® products to choose from. Which one(s) you pick might depend on whether your child will be eating at home or on the go, so we′ll go into more detail later in the article.
If you already know which Uncrustables® products you want, all that′s left to do is pick some sides.
Super Simple ′′Side Dish′′ Ideas
Truth be told, there′s really no limit to what you can serve on the side, and there′s no clear rule about what counts as ′′easy."
So we′ve tried to gather only the very easiest of easy ideas, meaning the ones that require no measuring, mixing or cooking beyond a quick zap in the microwave. Most of these ideas don′t even require any slicing. Take a look!
- Trail mix*
- Sunflower seeds
- Rice cakes
*Some schools or daycares may have a nut-free policy.
- Hard-boiled egg
- Rolled lunch meat
- Pepperoni slices
- Cheese cubes
Fresh Wash-and-Slice Sides
- An apple or apple slices brushed with lemon juice
- Melon slices
- Celery sticks
- Broccoli florets
- Bell pepper slices
Fresh No-Slicing-Required Sides
- Baby carrots
- Sugar snap peas
- Grape tomatoes
Tip: To make veggies more appealing, consider including a dipping sauce, like ranch or hummus.
- Box of raisins
- String cheese
- Drinkable yogurt
Tip: You can also find many of the other items above in pre-packaged single servings, such as trail mixes, pretzels, etc.
Easy Kid Lunch Ideas for School or On the Go*
When the midday meal takes place outside your home, what you need are some easy packed lunch ideas that don′t require a microwave (or any other appliance) to heat them up.
There′s always canned soup or stew, which works great if you have a good insulated mug that will keep it warm until lunchtime. But even that requires sending a spoon with your kiddo. And it might only be appealing in the winter. What about the rest of the year?
Whatever the season, you can′t go wrong with easy, tasty, cold lunch ideas — for kids of practically all ages. And some of the yummiest cold options around include Uncrustables® thaw and eat products.
These products require literally ZERO prep. You just take them out of the freezer in the morning, pack them with an ice pack for on-the-go use, and they′re thawed and ready to eat by lunchtime.
By the way, we don′t just mean the classic Uncrustables® PB&J (although kids do still love it). There′s plenty more where that gem came from.
Check out the range of options below.
*Always make sure you cook and prepare food to the right shape, size and texture for your child's development.
Uncrustables® Roll-Ups take cold lunches beyond the PB&J-style sandwich and venture into the savory side. Yummy meat, real cheese and (in some cases) seasonings are neatly rolled together in a soft flatbread wrap, then pre-sliced into perfectly sized ′′pinwheels."
These fun-shaped finger foods come in three kid-approved varieties. So you can find a go-to favorite or serve them all in a rotation to keep things interesting.
Ah, the classic Uncrustables® sandwich. What is it? Basically, it′s the very best part of the sandwich: soft bread, yummy spreads and no crust. (Sorry, crust, some kids just aren′t fans.)
Uncrustables® sandwiches are crimped around the edges to help keep the insides, well, inside. They′re also a fun round shape and the perfect size for little hands.
Most people have seen our Uncrustables® Peanut Butter and Grape Jelly Sandwich, which happens to be our most famous. But you might also want to check out some of our other flavors, including reduced sugar options.
Easy Lunch Ideas for Kids at Home
The cold lunch ideas we mentioned above can certainly work at home, too. But we totally get it — sometimes a hot lunch just sounds better. That′s when you need a quick ′′heat and eat′′ option.
If you happen to have a microwave handy, Uncrustables® Bites are the perfect starting point for a hot meal made easy. Savory meat, sauce and (for some flavors) cheese are all neatly contained in a perfect little pocket of bread, which we bake from scratch and freeze on the spot to preserve its soft, delicious goodness. These babies are just all-around delicious!
Each pouch of two Uncrustables® Bites heats up in just 40 seconds in the microwave. And just like other Uncrustables® products, Bites are easy for kids to hold in their hands, so they don′t even need utensils. Check out all three varieties.
More Tips to Make Lunch Prep Easier
Hopefully the simple lunch ideas above have already helped make your to-do list a little less daunting, but there may be some other ways to streamline your efforts and help cut out some stress. Consider these tips.
Have Your Kids Help
If your kids are old enough, they may be able to pack or gather and heat up their own lunches, taking those steps off your plate (pun intended) entirely. But if they′re younger, lunch prep can feel like a chore that you have to squeeze in while your little one is distracted.
Instead of stressing about how to keep your kiddo busy while you work, consider letting him or her be part of the process. Little ones are often eager to help, and although even ′′quick′′ lunches will probably go a little slower that way, they might also feel less like a chore and more like a bonding experience.
Even if your kid isn′t interested in helping with the actual prep or packing, he or she might be more inclined to eat what you serve if given a say in the matter. So consider asking for ′′help′′ with the grocery list, or just with choosing which options to pull out of the fridge from one day to the next.
Don′t Let the Lunchbox Boss You Around
All those compartments sure look nice in photos, and they really can come in handy … but for some people, they can also be intimidating. If just seeing those empty blocks make you feel like you have to fill every single one with something different every day, in exactly that portion size, rest assured: you don′t.
Consider taking the pressure off with a single-compartment lunchbox or a good old-fashioned paper bag. Then you can simply fill it with however many items you choose, in whichever portion sizes are right for your child. Just use your stash of reusable food containers or baggies, or better yet, make things even easier on yourself with pre-wrapped items (like Uncrustables® products, wink) whenever you can.
Take that, bossy lunchbox.
Plan & Prep for the Whole Week at Once
Refer back to the Uncrustables® products from earlier this the article, and pick out a few to get you through the week.
Once you′ve chosen some Uncrustables® items as ′′main dishes,′′ congrats! That part of the prep work is already done. Now to pick and prep the ′′side dishes."
A lot of the ideas from our list above don′t require any further prep either, beyond putting them onto a plate or into a lunch bag/box. But some do require a tiny bit of time and effort, which we suggest knocking out all at once.
You might want to set a reminder on your phone every Sunday just to A.) make sure you′ve got everything on hand for a week′s worth of lunches and B.) do anything you can to save yourself time later.
That might mean making a batch of several hardboiled eggs, chopping the whole week′s worth of fruits and vegetables, and/or doling out individual servings into containers so they′re ready to grab at a moment′s notice.
Getting all that out of the way in one swoop might take an hour or two, but you′ll only have to get everything out, wash it and put it away once, instead of doing that every day of the week. So it can feel less tedious and save you time overall.
Go Easy on Yourself
In the days of social media, it′s easy to hold ourselves to unrealistic standards. A friendly reminder: Your kid′s lunch doesn′t have to look blog-worthy. And you don′t have to come up with new and exciting ideas for lunch all the time.
Once you find a favorite or a few go-tos that you and your kid(s) can agree on, go ahead and revel in the routine! Chances are you have plenty of other matters on your mind anyway. You can always mix things up when time allows or taste buds change, but in the meantime, it′s more than OK to stick with what works. After all, it′s a favorite for a reason!
Stock Up on Uncrustables® Products Now
Start making your life a little easier now by stocking your freezer for the week ahead. Grab your favorite Uncrustables® products at a store near you.