10 Nut-Free, Sandwich-Free Kids’ Lunch Ideas

Time to get off the boring lunchtime sandwich treadmill and add some fun and variety to your kids lunch time meals.

Here are 10 ideas for sandwich-free lunches that take cues from around the globe. Taste test them all with your little eaters (or yourself!) to find new, interesting lunch box variations that keep everyone’s appetites healthy.

1. Food on Sticks

Think chicken satays, beef skewers, or sausage kebabs, packed on lunchbox-sized sticks for kids. Because everything just seem better when it’s on a stick. (For young kids, use flat, blunt-edged bamboo sticks, for safe eating.)

  • Pack with:Rice, sliced cucumbers, sliced mango, yogurt-covered pretzels

2. Quesadillas

They’re kid favorites for a reason — and contrary to our adult biases; they don’t need to be piping hot to be delicious.

  • Pack with: Avocado slices or guacamole, pineapple chunks, pumpkin seeds, or tortilla chips

3. Spring Rolls

Rice paper wrappers or large lettuce leaves make great rolled-up meals that are fun to eat. Fill them with tofu, pork, shrimp or chicken.

  • Pack with: Cubed meat or cheese sliced red bell peppers, blueberries, Chocolate Square.

4. Deli Meat Roll-Ups

Rolling sliced deli turkey, ham, or roast beef around cheese sticks, cream cheese, and even greens can change the way your kids think about lunch meat.

  • Pack with: Whole-wheat pretzels, celery, cinnamon-sprinkled apple slices.

5. Vegetable Sushi

Using leftover rice and cooked fish from a previous meal, packing sushi for the family can be as easy as making sandwiches.

  • Pack with: Sushi condiments, edamame, raspberries.

6. Cold Noodle Salads

Think soba with black sesame seeds, or plain udon.

  • Pack with: Cubed chicken or tinned fish, snap peas, clementine, chocolate raisins. Yum!

7. Hummus and Pita Plate

Many kids love a good smear of hummus. Nothing like finger food and dipping that make a kid happy.

  • Pack with: Salami, carrots, baby tomatoes, and grapes. (Pack the hummus in a separate container to make dipping easier and less messy.)

8. Quinoa Salad

Mix the meats, cheeses, and veggies your kids like into plain quinoa and dress lightly with a basic vinaigrette.

  • Pack with: Tomato/mozzarella/basil and pear slices.

9. Transform Breakfast into Lunch

Make extra food when you have time for a nice breakfast on the weekend, and save the leftovers for lunches —think hard-boiled eggs, leftover pancakes, and leftover sausages.

  • Pack with: Sliced strawberries, squeezable yogurt. (Frozen yogurt tubes also make great small ice packs, and typically thaw by lunch.)

10. Leftover Picnic Lunch

If you’d eat it for lunch on the weekend, why not pack it in a lunch box? Nothing beats a cold chicken leg on a Monday lunch meal.

  • Pack with: Potato salad or coleslaw, watermelon, broccoli to round out the food groups.

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