Real Food Lunch Ideas

20+ ideas to get your kids eating good food for lunch

I use my Printable Easy Lunch Meal Planner stuck on the fridge with these ideas – it includes each of the four categories to help you know you’re shopping for varied and complete lunches.

Easy Real Food Lunch Meal Planning


Real Food Lunch Ideas

You can use the following list to come up with your own lunch ideas any time you need help getting out of a “lunch rut.”  The other thing I find helpful is to ask friends what their “boring” lunches are – even if it’s their “boring”, it’s usually new to me.

Simple is fine.  Some of the lunches my kids like best are just cut up pieces of meat, veggies and fruit.  It still feels like a meal when it’s presented as one.

Main Meal:

    • Left Overs – Brainstorm dinners or breakfasts that make good lunch leftovers like quiche, pancakes that you can make into a nutbutter sandwich, meatballs, roast chicken, or flank steak.
    • Paleo Lunch Roll-Ups – Use lunch meat as the outside and roll in sliced veggies like avocado, bell peppers or spinach.  The eMeals blog has a longer list of roll up ideas ideas here– (affilaite link)
    • Soups such as split-pea, ham and bean or chicken and vegetable can be sent in a thermos.
    • Make up a container of cooked chicken then use it through-out the week with various sauces- BBQ, Pesto, etc.
    • Salmon, Chicken or Tuna Salad can be simple with just the meat and mayo, or dress it up with nuts, cranberries, cut veggies.  Serve it with lettuce, crackers or avocado.
    • Hard Boiled Eggs
    • Plain items: Cheese, beans, yogurt, chunks of chicken…


  • Easy to pack veggie ideas: baby carrots, grape tomatoes, broccoli florets, garbanzo beans, cucumber slices, green beans, snap peas, bell pepper slices
  • Include a Dip like hummus or dressing
  • Some kids like frozen peas or beans cold.
  • Salads that use cabbage, broccoli slaw, or shredded carrots can hold up until lunch without wilting
  • Cutting food into interesting shapes like strips or cubes can make it seem new or different – try carrot chips and jicama sticks.

20+ Real Food Lunch Ideas


  • Mini fruit kabobs on toothpicks
  • Apples or bananas with nutbutter
  • Any in season fruit
  • Simple fruit salad sprinkled with coconut shreds
  • Frozen blueberries
  • Dried fruit and nuts
  • Fruit leathers


  • Muffins can be made pretty low sugar with whole grains and can be frozen in batches.
  • Rice tastes dyummy cold with a fruit chutney mixed in.
  • Larabar (or similar) maybe cut into chunks.

Good luck on your lunch meal planning!  Remember it’s ok to make it simple, and repetition feels safe and comfortable to our kids.  It doesn’t have to look perfect to be a good meal.

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  1. klsmidwestmom says

    Everytime I pack tuna or egg salad for my daughter the other kids say gross, or eww that stinks, so she will no longer let me pack that in her lunch!  Kida can be so rude sometimes.  Thanks for the great suggestions.

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