Beyond the Sandwich, Creative School Lunch Ideas Kids Love

Preparing to go back to school brings a mix of emotions. You might feel excited to get back in the classroom, ready to learn and socialize with others. You might also feel a little sad that summer is ending and your time outdoors may be getting shorter. And, you may also feel a bit nervous about starting a new grade. With all of these feelings, we’re here to help you stress less about school lunch. We’re sharing back-to-school lunch ideas that will turn your midday meal from just okay to absolutely fun, creative, and delicious. If you’re tired of sandwiches, then these six recipes are for you.

1. Alphabet Soup

Have you ever packed a thermos of soup to school before? Whether it’s your first time or 100th, we think you’re going to enjoy this comforting soup. Even though the flavor deserves an A+, the best part just might be the fun alphabet-shaped pasta! Besides sipping up your lunch, you can spend school lunchtime spelling out different words with your friends. (Shhh…yes, we’re giving you permission to play with your food!)

2. Apple-Pie Applesauce

If you’re craving something just a little bit sweet, try this dessert-like lunchbox addition. This recipe is full of delightful fall flavors like apples, nutmeg, and cinnamon. The fun thing is you can try making it with all different sorts of apples. See if you can taste the difference as you experiment with the different apple types. Better yet? Use apples from your backyard, the farmers market, or ones you pick on a local apple-picking trip!

3. Spinach Frittata “Muffins”

This recipe works great for either a grab-and-go breakfast or lunch. Normally, frittatas are made in a big pan, but these ones are made in a muffin tin. This means each frittata turns into a perfect, individual muffin-sized portion. It’s like a muffin or cupcake but instead of a sweet treat, it’s a savory meal!

4. Garbanzo Bonanza Salad

Instead of lettuce, meat, or pasta, this salad is filled with a legume called chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans. They add a heartiness to the dish to make it filling and pair perfectly with the other ingredients of this recipe.

5. White House Simple Soba Noodle Salad

Want to really impress your friends? Share this soba noodle salad with them. It comes from the White House Executive Chef, Cris Comerford. ChopChop Family members like Founder Sally Sampson got to visit the White House a number of times during the Obama administration (and one time even got to interview Michelle Obama!). This salad is more like a Japanese noodle dish than the traditional green salads you might be used to. The soba noodles bring a nutty, earthy flavor and are filled with nutrients too!

6. Onigirazu Rice ‘Sandwich’

Okay, so we might have snuck a type of “sandwich” into this list. But trust us, it’s not your average sandwich. This dish is made from rice that’s shaped into a ball and filled with a tasty ingredient of your choice. Plus, it’s wrapped in nori, a type of seaweed, which makes it extra fun, easy, and good for you! If you’re a fan of sushi, then this is the lunch for you.

Interested in more school lunch ideas? Read how to turn your leftovers into lunches. Or, if you’re trying to get prepared for morning meals to avoid the before-school rush, get our ideas on how to make breakfast one less thing you have to worry about.