22 answers

Any Lunch Ideas for 5 Year Old?

Hi, my 5 year old boy is starting Kindergarden on Monday. He's never gone to any kind of daycare or Pre-K, so this is the first time he'll go to school. I need some ideas of what to put in his lunch box for lunch. I can purchase lunch through his school, but I would like to send him a lunch from home some days instead. He loves eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch, but he needs more than that. Any ideas/suggestions?

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Thank you all for the great ideas! Now I have a better idea of what I can give my son whenever I don't use the school's food service. Thank you!

Featured Answers

Go online and google best sack lunches for elementary school children. Menus and more should come up.

1 mom found this helpful

Veggies with ranch dip are a great choice. SO is fruit, granola bars, chunks of meat or cheese and 100 calorie pack snacks. It's great you're trying to give him healthy lunches! As a K teacher I know many parents who do not appear concerned with this.

1 mom found this helpful

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Here's what my son likes: A sandwich (ham and cheese), a frozen Go-gurt (yogurt you can eat without a spoon, I freeze it and know it's still cold when lunchtime rolls around), a little container of animal crackers (or Teddy Grahms, Scooby snacks, etc), fruit snacks, and sometimes a cheese stick, banana, applesauce, or Nutri-grain bar. I buy the Minute-Maid orange juice (100% juice), or the Capri Suns Water Beverages. I have a little ice cooler "thing" in the shape of a football that I put in with his lunch to make sure it all stays cold. I would suggest you just pack up some things that you know he likes to eat and won't need a lot of assistance with opening or eating. I hope he has a wonderful first day!

2 moms found this helpful

I have 2 kids, 10 & 8, so I feel as though I'm an old pro. My suggestion would be to invest in a good lunch box sized thermos. It's expensive to start (around $12 -$15) but ours has lasted through the years. I use it at leaset once a week. It's great for left overs, i.e. spaghetti, mac & cheese w/ cut up hot dog, stir fry, etc. The trick is to fill it with boiling water, cap it, turn it over and let it sit upside down for 5 min. before you empty it and put in the heated up food. Food will stay hot/warm until noon.

Another trick is to freeze Gogurts. They will act as a freezer pack and be thawed out by lunch time.

I'm all for healthy snacks as a rule but on the 1st day I usually pack a treat to make it feel extra special.

The MOST important 1st day lunch box item is a note from you. Sounds hokey but I always put on my brightest, loudlest colored lipstick and kiss a note card and write a big "I love you". Even my macho 10 y.o. boy thinks it's funny!

2 moms found this helpful

Hi M.,

My 5 year old loves her pb&j sandwich, carrot sticks, apple sauce, a banana, and a couple of cookies with a 100% juice box or her water bottle. Some other things to mix it up a bit...yogurt, pudding, baked chips, cheese crackers, hummus w/carrot sticks, tuna or egg salad, cheese quesadilla (I make it with 2 whole wheat tortillas grilled with shredded mozzarella or cheddar cheese).

Don't forget to write a note everyday with a special message on his napkin!

2 moms found this helpful

Peanut butter and jelly sandwich is always fine since the peanut butter has lots of iron which is great for kids and adults as well - you will more than likely find out that they should pack two snacks and two drinks as well. One snack and drink will go with their lunch and the other snack and drink will be eaten at a seperate time in class to give the kids that extra burst of energy to get them through their day (that is if Kindergarten is full day - which is usually the case in most States now. Anyway, I always change up the snacks, but make sure they are healthier - teachers frown upon "junk" food for snacks such as candy. Depending on what your child likes here are some suggestions. . . cheeze its or cheese nips, pretzels (not the sticks though - Kindergarteners like to be silly and poke each other at times - plus it can cut the roof of their mouth), natural fruit roll ups, etc. You can actually get bags of pretzels at the Dollar Tree type stores. As far as drinks - there are the smaller box drinks and larger ones - keep an eye on how much your son drinks to see that you aren't wasting the drink - with me working as a sub-monitor at lunch time I see lots of kids throw most of their drinks away - they just don't always drink alot - I alot of times pack a sport type drink and fill it up with things other than milk - since obviously that will perish quickly even in a cooler type lunchbox. Then you can actually see how much they really drink. I wouldn't buy capri sun drinks - little ones have difficulty punching the straw into the drink and either spill some or won't drink it at all because they are too embarrassed to ask someone to help them especially when there are sooooo many other children to compete against to get the monitors attention (my daughter is shy and wouldn't ask for help - so I made sure to give her things that are "easy open"). Anyway, I hope these few tips help. I also would put a note inside their lunch box that they could read - such as I "heart" U - draw the heart for I love you!! or make a silly pic of something - kids LOVE to see a note from their Mom's!!! Good luck with everything . . . Another At-Home-Mom ~C.

1 mom found this helpful

Don't pack too much of anything. You do need to have some veggies and/or fruit in each day. Stay away from the cakes and cookies as many will just eat the dessert and throw away the rest. Carrot sticks, celery sticks with some ranch dressing is eaten by many children. Use the zip lock bags and little plastic lidded containers and cut up cantaloupe or watermelon when in season. My granddaughter likes to take tuna salad & crackers and also cottage cheese and canned peaches. On the days you use this you may want to put in a peanut butter cracker. Some also like cucumbers. If you will dip the cut up apple in orange juice it will not turn dark and only put in about 1/2 apple. Small amounts of things he likes will be eaten much more readily if there is no more than he can really enjoy. With fresh peaches in season right now you can also cut them up and soak in orange juice. Be sure all the fruit is bite sized. V.

1 mom found this helpful

Fruit is always a heathly choice and perhaps some carrots or celery? Ants on a log? Celery with peanut butter in it and raisens on top like ants. You can always put a little special treat like pretzels or sunchips if he eats that sort of thing. I'd also include a little homemade card, since he's not reading well yet, you can cut out a heart or make a smiley face with "I LOVE YOU" on it and his name. I'm a little sappy that way, but I bet he'd like it! Good luck!!!

1 mom found this helpful

My son will also start kindergarten, you think the world is small enough they will be in the same school and/or classroom??
I also think about sending my son to school with lunch money some days and home made lunch on others, what I thought about doing is checking out the school menu for ideas, they have like three different choices for each day of the week..
You can ask the teacher for the lunch menu list for each month and you can take it from there..

1 mom found this helpful

Go online and google best sack lunches for elementary school children. Menus and more should come up.

1 mom found this helpful


I've got quite a lengthy word document that I am more than willing to email to you and to anyone who would like a copy of it. It is a compilation of about 5 different websites, and input from friends that I made 2 years ago when my oldest started school. Below is just a little of it.


PB &…
Sliced bananas
Brown sugar
Sliced apples
Chopped, pitted dates
Grated carrots
Wheat germ and honey
Fluff or marshmallow creme

Deli meat
roast beef
grilled cheese (wrap in aluminum foil)

homemade "lunchables"; whole wheat crackers and then we cut the meat and cheese using fun small shapes

mini bagels
english muffin
Pita pocket
date nut bread
whole grain crackers

Other main (heat up in a bowl in the am and then put in a thermos)
tuna salad,
egg salad,
mac n' cheese
chicken noodle soup,
cheese (on a bagel)
cream cheese (on a bagel/cracker)

cold pizza (shredded mozzarella cheese; pizza sauce; fat free flour tortilla, low fat English muffin, or mini pizza shell)

celery/cr cheese or PB & raisins
cherry tomatoes
raw green beans
raw zucchini

Fruit cup
Apple sauce
Dried fruit
fruit yogurt
Fruit leather
stuffed apple
apple rings (dried)
banana chips
dried apricots

baked chips
cookies (oatmeal raisin)
Crackers--plain or with peanut butter or cheese
Cheese sticks
Graham crackers
Fortune cookies
Tortilla chips with a small jar of salsa
Small bags of popcorn
Nuts, raisins, granola
Granola bar
Sunflower seeds
Fig newtons
Mini rice cakes with peanut butter
Peanuts in the shell
Whole-grain muffins
SF flavored gelatin
breakfast bars
Mini Fat Free Caramel Dipping Sauce

healthy trail mix -- cheerios(or chex, kix, etc) raisins, dried fruit, nuts & a few m&ms. Make a week's worth at once.
Fruit and cheese kabobs (Skewer your favorites on toothpicks, and store in a container in the refrigerator.)

Cat R,
Preschool kids do not always have an "edge". That is not true and shame on you for snubbing M. G in your response!! My oldest son didn't go to pre-k and is very active in school activities, sports and piano. My youngest child started Kindergarten last week for the first time and has not had any "adjustment" problems and is involved in extracurricular activities just like his older brother.

Just because one chooses not to send their child to pre-k doesn't mean we make hermits out of our children, let them watch TV all day, and do not allow them to interact with kids that are their own age.

1 mom found this helpful

Veggies with ranch dip are a great choice. SO is fruit, granola bars, chunks of meat or cheese and 100 calorie pack snacks. It's great you're trying to give him healthy lunches! As a K teacher I know many parents who do not appear concerned with this.

1 mom found this helpful

hey M.,
be prepared to possibly get a note from school asking to not send peanut butter...with all of the peanut allergies in schools, some of them have either started asking parents not to send it at all, or they make anyone with peanut butter sit at a separate table...my son was never really a sandwich eater, so my suggestions to you would be...get a thermos, and make either mac and cheese, soup, or put leftovers in it for him...if he likes fruit, you can buy single servings of mixed fruit in the canned foods isle...another suggestion, if your son is bringing forks or spoons...send plastic. i am down to four out of 12 of my small forks! good luck with kindergarten!!

1 mom found this helpful

you can ad crackers, raisins, fruit cup, chips, pretzels etc.
My daughter loves having a peanutbutter and honey sandwichs , EVERY DAY , so that's what she has in her lunch , but I add other things into it. like the above.

1 mom found this helpful

My son is also starting Kindergarten tomorrow. We're packing lunch. As I've always done for camp and such, I include water, cucumber slices, carrot sticks, grape tomatoes, grapes, blueberries, etc. as a side. He loves PBJ. I also have been known to include a cheese stick or hard boiled egg. You could (provided you're putting a cold pack in the lunch bag) try egg salad sandwich, pimento cheese (I make my own, it's very easy), etc. I am not a fan of processed food, so I try to steer away from items that contain a lot of sodium and sugar.

1 mom found this helpful

fruits. juice, a granola bar, etc It all depends on what he likes

1 mom found this helpful

You could add a banana or apple, small box of raisins, handful of washed white or red grapes, juice box. These are the first things that come to mind. If he likes veggies, carrot sticks or baby carrots would be a good "side".

1 mom found this helpful

Fruit, yogurt, nuts, and cheese are always easy to put in a lunch box.

1 mom found this helpful

You can send lunchables, fruit, hi-c, granola bars or fruit snacks.

First off - my daughter's school makes us slice her grapes in half!!!!

Looks like there are a lot of good responses on here, but I didn't see my daughter's favorite. Hot dog slices! Cold and gross, but technically okay to eat according to our pediatrician.

She doesn't like pbj in her lunch (who knows?), so we had to come up with something else.

Typically, a lunch is hot dog slices or a cheese sandwich, carrot sticks or applesauce and raisins or crackers.

We saved a TON of money by purchasing a little drink jug with cooler inside. We send juice with her everyday, slightly diluted as the pediatrician recommended. Plus I feel better because we're not making all that trash. It cost about $2.50 for the little drink jug/thermos and we've been using it for over a year now.

Good luck! Oh, and be prepared that every kid wants what all the other kids eat. Yesterday my daughter mentioned that it was okay to pack gatorade if I wanted to because Alicia had some.....

Any sandwiches that he likes, and any small bag of chips that he likes. My granddaughters are going to school(pre-k) for the first time also.
P. S

Hi M.,
My daughter is 5 and she just finished Kindergarten at a private school that didn't provide lunch, so I was stuck having to come up with something every single day. She LOVES Lunchables! I buy the ones without the drink (they were like 4/$5) and I would just put a capri sun or something in there for her to drink. They have all different kinds, so she could pick which one she wanted out the fridge and put it in her lunchbox with her snack and capri sun. It was so convenient and I like to believe they're healthy. lol I am ALL for convenient!

Hi M.,
He really doesn't need anything more than that. He is going to be in for some real surprises for a few weeks if he has never been to any type of school. Just curious, in this day and age, why did you do that? The school kids have an edge in adjusting better to big school. Back to the lunch issue, offer a piece of fruit to him in the box, goldfish crackers, some sort of finger food to pass the few minutes while sitting there. Once he is comfortable, he will see others eating more and probably want more. HE WILL EAT when he comes through the door in the afternoon. He is in his comfort zone again. Avoid sweets, fruit roll-ups, and that sort of food item. Healthy is best.
I am a preschool teacher of 4 year olds. We offer a "lunch-bunch" program three days a week at my school which gets them ready for "big school". Purchasing lunch on certain days will give you a break and offer him an alternative to PBJ. I know that they offer chicken nuggets, salad bars, etc. Tell him that he can purchase two days and take three. he will have to look at the school menu and decide. This also allows him to try new things and make decisions about his lunch (another big step to independence).
Good luck,

my sons preschool has a peanut butter ban so I had to get creative last year. He loves lunchables, but they get expensive. I buy diced ham or lunch meat, string cheese I cut up and any kind of crackers. He loves it. I also use tyson chicken nuggets that are frozen and already cooked, by the time lunch comes they are thawed out(he does not like hot food anyway). Hope this helps some.


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