Are you tired of feeling like a short order cook or spending all day in the kitchen? Here are some super easy lunch ideas for kids, so you can stop slaving away and still give some variety!
I have six kids. I also homeschool, which means we are all home, for every meal, every day.
That could easily turn into me slaving away in the kitchen for 3 meals a day 7 days a week.
But, starting when my kids were very young I decided to keep that from happening. In our home, breakfast is a very independent activity. The kids get their own food (with a little help from me, their dad, or their siblings). I keep things like homemade muffins and homemade waffles in the freezer for them to reheat. Or they can make themselves some toast or reheat leftovers in the microwave.
Dinner is our big meal of the day, which means lunch is also fairly low key in our house.
If I cook, I make things that are quick and easy that almost everyone likes, or I make things that can frozen for leftovers for future breakfasts or lunches, OR I let them kids make their own lunches.
For reference, my kids are currently between the ages of 4 and 18, but I’ve used the same approach for the last 18 years- even when I had 4 under 6 years old!
16 Easy Lunch Ideas for Kids- For Busy Moms or Independent Kids
So what makes an easy lunch for kids? Here are some of my criteria:
- Little to no prep work
- Quick to make
- Fills them up
- Little to no mess
That said here are 16 of the easy lunches I’ve used to years with my kids. It’s enough to provide some variety so you aren’t serving sandwiches every day. And many are easy enough that kids can make many of them by themselves. They may seem obvious, but that’s what easy lunches are all about.
Note: All lunch ideas are also paired with fruit and fresh veggies (carrots, peppers, etc).
Easy Lunch Pizzas:
Pizza is probably the ONLY food that all 6 of my kids will eat. Really. The only one. Making pizza can be time intensive, so aside from our weekly pizza and movie night, I don’t make it. But that doesn’t mean we can’t have pizza-like foods!
Here are some of my favorite pizza inspired easy lunches for kids.
French Bread Pizza: Super easy. Cut a loaf of French bread in half long ways, slather with sauce, cheese, and toppings, and stick in the oven until the cheese is melted. Super easy for the kids to make themselves, and very frugal too. I get day old, French bread loves at the grocery store for 99 cents!
Tortilla Pizza: Tortillas make a great crust for pizza. My teens like to line a pie pan with a couple tortillas, add sauce and cheese, then top with more tortillas and bake till melted and crispy.
English Muffin Pizza: English muffins also make a great crust for pizza. Cheese, sauce, heat, and you’re done.
*Biscuit pizzas are also another option. I don’t buy canned biscuits, so if I add in the time to make my own biscuits, they aren’t as easy anymore
Breakfast for Lunch:
I have a confession. I never make breakfast for breakfast. Nope…way too much work for that early! But I do love making breakfast for dinner or lunch. Bonus is that I make extra and freeze them for breakfasts!
French Toast: I use the same 99 cent french bread loaves that I use for pizzas for French toast. Eggs are full of protein and I use about 1 dozen eggs, mix in some cinnamon and that’s it. No milk, no sugar. Then slice the french bread and fry till both sides are golden.
Egg Burritos: We raise our own chickens, but even if you don’t, eggs are a healthy, cheap, and quick option for lunch. We love making them into egg burritos by filling a tortilla with scrambled eggs, cheese, and salsa.
Pancakes: Pancakes are a common lunch in our home. They are frugal, easy meal for the whole family. I use extra eggs to add more protein. And my kids usually top them with peanut butter and maple syrup.
Waffles: Just like pancakes, waffles are super easy and quick. We always have a large batch in the freeze for meals as well. My kids have topped them with peanut butter, cream cheese, or even chili!
Easy Cold Lunches:
Cold lunches are about as easy as you can get for kids lunches. They can get old after awhile if you are eating the same thing every single day, but if you have some variety they are still a great, easy, lunch for kids that they can even make themselves.
Peanut Butter and Jelly: I was the kid who ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches every single day when I was a kid. They will never go out of style and almost every kid likes them.
Peanut Butter and Fruit Sandwich: You can also mix up your peanut butter by using fresh fruit instead of jelly. Peanut butter and banana is popular in our house, as is peanut butter and apples. We use bread for sandwiches or tortillas for wraps.
Meat and Cheese Sandwich: Lunch meat. Bread. Cheese. And lunch is served. Can’t get much easier than that.
Meat and Cheese Wraps: Just like with sandwiches, but swap out the bread for a tortilla. Maybe add some fresh lettuce or spinach for an extra crunch.
Apple and Cheese Wraps: I love the combination of apples and cheese. Somewhere over the years my kids have started making their own apple and cheese burritos. Grated cheese, grated apples, together in a tortilla.
Easy Hot Lunches:
If cold sandwiches are getting old, here are a couple hot options for easy kids’ lunches.
Grilled Cheese: Bread and cheese. Fry in a pan until hot and melted. It’s a simple sandwich, but making it hot makes it so much better.
Mac and Cheese: My kids love Mac and Cheese- and while it can be time intensive, we have found a way to make a one pot version, or my favorite, Instant Pot Mac and Cheese. It’s simple, tweens can make it by themselves and it takes next to no time. It also makes enough for leftovers too!
Cheese Quesadilla: Just like grilled cheese, but with a tortilla instead. You can dress it up with some lunch meat or salsa if you want too.
Leftovers: Leftovers are probably the easiest lunch there is. I always try to make larger dinners so that we can use the leftovers to feed us through the rest of the week. Soups, chili, tacos, pasta, etc all make great re-heated lunches!
So as you can see, lunch isn’t a big deal around here. And I highly recommend every parent working towards getting their kids independent in the kitchen and meal prep as soon as possible. Not only does it teach your kids independence and an important life skill, but it makes your life easier!