Lunch Ideas for Kindergarden

Updated on July 19, 2014
W.A. asks from Fremont, CA
25 answers

My daughter is going to kindergarten this fall. After school she will go on to the after school program.
I am looking for ideas on what to pack for her for lunch.
The only thing I cam come up with right now is pasta, peanut butter and jelly.
Any other ideas?
Would love some easy to prepare meals that is healthy and she can have it cold (no reheat required).

P/S Thanks for all the cool ideas. I heard about the food thermos but wanted to check as I am worried about it being at perfect bacterial growth temperature?


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answers from Toledo on

Keep mind that most kids no not desire near the variety adults do. I had pb&j almost every day through high school. It's all I wanted.

If you find 2 or 3 things she likes, you're probably golden!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Louisville on

If the child likes tuna, make some tuna salad up (w/o eggs) - make the sandwichs - or maybe even half-sandwiches - and freeze them! They will thaw by lunchtime and still be fine! Do this for my grand-gal -- and took it for lunch myself years ago before insulated bags!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

My kids pack one main thing (salad, sandwich, soup, leftovers, pizza, whatever - as long as it has some protein). One to two fruits/veggies.

They can also add a snack and a dessert on occassion if they would like.

(Snacks consist of chips, pretzels, popcorn, cheese crackers, fruit snacks, etc.)

Each of my three kids is different, so it really depends on the kid. But we did buy thermos' last year that are GREAT! They are short, wide mouthed, and come with a spoon! The kids used hot food a lot due to those.

1 mom found this helpful

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answers from Kansas City on

Good suggestions so far but I just wanted to say don't stress. I know a lot of kids, mine included, actually like to eat the same thing for lunch every day, or at least a lot of days. I don't really have to get too creative here because my daughter begs for PB&J just about every single day. Don't stress. Ask her what she wants and go with it.

At my kid's school the people allergic to nuts have their own "nut free" table to help with cross contamination. But you should check on that rule at your school.

Also remember they don't get much (not enough in my opinion) time to eat lunch so don't stress yourself out making a lot of stuff when she might not have time to eat it all.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

my kids loved pbj sandwiches but check as some schools have outlawed them due to allergies.
bagels w/cream cheese
cheese sticks
cereal w/milk she buys from school

don't discount her buying lunch at school sometimes in the long run its a lot cheaper and easier to do.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

You have a lot of great ideas listed below, most of which I would have suggested. I just have a few thoughts.

First, use as much fresh food as possible, and limit the amount of processed food you use. Your child will learn better with fewer pre-prepared in her body and more fresh food.

Also, I would suggest you check with the school if they have a policy about peanut butter. Some schools have banned all nut products at school, and if that is the case, you won't be able to send peanut butter sandwiches.

Involve your daughter in the planning of her lunches. She may have some great suggestions for her lunch. The more involved she is, the more likely she is to eat her lunch.

Good luck!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Chattanooga on

I'm not sure if you use Pinterest or not, but you should look on there. They have hundreds of ideas that are easy and practical.

The only advice I can give is to make sure your dd is capable of opening all packaging herself.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

Lots a great ideas so far- I'd like to second Megan S: Do involve your daughter in meal planning.

As a teacher, I am in the cafeteria from time to time and the amount of wasted food I see is just awful. So much is thrown away, and it's usually the veggies.

Once, I watched a little girl not even open the bag of carrots- she walked straight to the trash can and threw them away. When I asked her why, she said she hated carrots and told her mom not to pack them, but she does anyway. She went on to tell me that she would get in trouble at home for not eating them, so she tells her mom that she did.

Include a good protein to fill her up, and give her a surprise every once in a while. My daughter loves to take yogurt as part of her lunch. We purchased a small ice pack and she wraps the yogurt and icepack in a clean, dry washcloth and slips the whole thing in a ziplock bag. It stays cold until lunchtime.

What an exciting time for your daughter! I hope she has a great kindergarten year!

ETA: Ziggy- so true! My daughter has packed nearly the same lunch for years!!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Santa Fe on

My daughter loves just about anything for lunch. A bagel with a topping, a croissant sandwich, a turkey wrap, a cream cheese and jelly sandwich, a thermos of soup, quesadillas, leftovers from dinner, crackers with slices of meat and cheese, a bean and cheese burrito, leftover spaghetti, slices of leftover roast chicken (these are yummy cold), a BLT, a hard boiled egg, leftover pizza (also good cold). She always gets sides such as pretzels, pirate booty, crackers, cut up veggies and a dip, cut up fruit, dates, raisins, almonds, cashews, hummus, a pickle, olives, etc. She gets a milk or a juice box and a water. I use a good quality small thermos that keeps her hot food pretty hot.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I was surprised at that age at just how little my kids would eat for lunch. Even if I made them their favorite thing, they'd only eat a little bit. Life is pretty exciting in Kindergarten, and they just don't feel like sitting still long enough to eat!

That being said, I had the best luck with fruit (grapes, apple slices soaked in lime juice/water, any kind of berries - anything that they can eat piece by piece and come back to it after school if they want to), string cheese, whole-wheat crackers, maybe a little container with something they could spread on the crackers (peanut butter, hummus, etc), carrot sticks, celery sticks, boiled egg taken out of its shell, stuff like that. Finger food. Whatever they don't eat at lunch, they can eat for an after-school snack.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

We pack one protein/sandwich/main course type item and then either 2 veggies and a fruit or 2 fruits and a veggie. Main course type things - yogurt with chopped fruit, hummus on pita or crackers, PB&J, left over pasta, left over stir fry, left over (whatever we had for dinner last night), grilled cheese, canned salmon sandwich (or tuna if your child prefers). Veggies - salad, chick peas, frozen peas (they thaw out by lunch), corn (on the cob or frozen), cauliflower, broccoli, green beans, green pepper, asparagus. Fruit - melon, berries, apples, oranges (sliced), clementines, peaches, dried fruit (raisins, craisins, apricots, prunes, figs). Almonds also make a good item.

I never send anything in a thermos since those keep foods at the perfect bacterial growth temperature (they never stay HOT, only warm). Happily my son will eat anything cold.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

You have lots of ideas but I wanted to also post that she may like school lunches better. I packed my daughter's lunch for the first part of K and she brought home MOST of what I sent each day!! I then started having her buy her lunch and would ask her what she had each day and even if it was only the main meal (meat usually) and milk, it was more than she ate (and I had allowed her to pick out the foods I packed for her!). She just liked the hot lunch option better. There were even times when salad was the main course and she got that AND a side salad, so she was eating healthier than when I packed a lunch!

You can try both and see what works best for you. I hated throwing out a lunch each evening!! We did the thermos a lot and sometimes she ate the stuff and other times she didn't. She never got sick.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

Leftovers from night before work well. Sandwiches,yogurt,veggies dips, cheese and crackers. Virtually anything. Just use cold pack or thermos. She might like school lunches.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I am in the classroom a lot with elementary children and supervising the lunchroom. I see SO many different types of foods.

yogurt, boiled eggs, deli meats with cheeses, salads, pasta salads, fruits, fruit cups, jello cups, leftovers from the night before... pizza, sandwiches. Lunchables

I see a lot of hot meals in a Thermos... spagettios, pasta, rice, chicken nuggets, hot dogs, leftovers from night before, soups, casseroles,

Our K's eat last at 12:30 so they also bring a decent snack as well... I see boiled eggs, yogurt, cheese

I hope you have a great year!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Austin on

To save a tron of money, I purchased the tiny snack bags. A thermos and a good lunch bag. The mom that said to keep a list is correct. That is what I did so I could remember some choices.

Our daughter loves fresh fruit all kinds ( I noticed she ate more fruit if it was cut up.. Like apples, pineapple watermelon.. But she enjoyed cuties, plums, raisins (all types of dried fruit) , fresh raw vegetables. Carrots, celery (ants on a log), cherry tomatoes, Jicama, cucumbers, Steamed crisp green beans. IF you child likes a dip, you can whip it up with low fat cottage cheese and some dip mix.. they love it.

Our daughter loved peanut butter as a dip, with the vegetables or with pretzels.
Cheese sticks or cubed cheese.

Tortollini with a small cup of Pasta sauce.
Chinese dumplings
grilled Chicken leg
Fried rice
tortilla wrap
And I promise, children take all of these foods to school and do not have problems. You could purchase some cold packs if you are really worried

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

-Tuna w/crackers (put an ice block in next to the tupperware)
-crackers & cheese
-heat up soup in the morning & put into a good quality thermos
-chicken burritos (heat in morn, double wrap in foil)
-hummus & pita crackers
-salami, cheese & pita bread
-peanut butter in celery stalks
-heat up pasta she likes & put it in thermos
-how about cold pasta salads?
-crackers & cheese
-fruit snacks
-sliced fruit (apples & even a caramel dip)
-Goldfish crackers
-fig newtons
-protein bar
-make an egg burrito she can have at morning snack (scrambled eggs.
Put into a warmed tortilla w/shredded cheese. Immediately double wrap
in foil. Should keep warm until first recess.).
-diced fruit (cantelope, watermelon, grapes)
-Yoplait yogurt w/granola she can eat at first break
-freeze water in a water bottle & it will help keep the lunch cold
-freeze grapes.
-mini carrots & a tiny container of ranch embedded in a tupperware of ice.
I would put in a main meal (pasta or sandwich) & lots of snacks.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

My kids pretty much took anything and everything, so just pack her what she likes to eat at home. Many "hot" foods can be served at room temp (fried chicken, left over pizza, quesadilla, etc.) Is PB & J the only sandwich she likes? You can do lunchmeat, cheese & crackers, yogurt, chopped veges & fruit, pasta salad, sushi, nuts/raisins/trail mix, fried rice/pot stickers, chips & salsa, really almost anything she eats at home can be packed for lunch, especially with all the great lunch box/thermos/cooler options there are now.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

My kids loved fresh veggies. Celery carrots sliced peppers. They would eat those every day!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

We created a list of things that we sent for lunch and posted it on the fridge, and gauged, by the amount of left overs that came back, which ones my kid would actually eat. With that in mind, we came up with a short menu of options. For my kid that included pasta with meatballs, chicken with rice, hotdog and corn, a waffle with nutella and jelly, left over pizza, hummos and pretzels.

The list might be different for your kid. Best send food that you are confident that they will eat, together with some food that they might possibly eat. Hungry = cranky and unfit to behave and learn.

Best, F. B.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

No reheat is required for a lot of things if you buy a food thermos. That's what I did. I heat the thermos with boiling water, then heat the food. When the food it hot, I dump the water and put in the food. It keeps anything I send warm until lunchtime.

So, I send ravioli, taco meat (shells and cheese on the side, he puts together), leftover grilled chicken or ham cut into bite size pieces. I wish I could send soup, but he won't eat soup.



answers from San Francisco on

Didn't read all the answers, but just in case peanut butter is banned, I suggest trying sunflower seed butter - see if she likes it.



answers from Kansas City on

My daughter loves hard boiled eggs, would eat them for lunch every day if we let her.

We have standards that are packed every day, yogurt, grapes or carrots, and crackers, then we vary what else goes in there. Hard boiled eggs that have already been peeled and put in a baggie, peanut butter and jelly sandwich, ham sandwich, lunch meat and crackers she can assemble like a lunchable, or sometimes leftover pizza, which she likes to eat cold.



answers from Baton Rouge on

My kid took a tuna or pbj sandwich and potato chips almost every day for years.



answers from Phoenix on

My trick is a lot like Dana's- I try to do 1 fruit, 1 veggie, 2 protein, 1 carb in each lunch. We go to the store and I let him pick out a couple of choices from each category, then I just mix them up each day. It helps so much when I am putting the lunch together to have a "recipe!" The fruit is generally fresh fruit, occasionally a cup of mandarin orange segments or dried fruit. Protein might be "fake meat," cheese, baked tofu, nuts or nut butter, hard boiled egg or egg salad, hummus, etc. Carb might be bread or tortillas, pretzels, crackers, granola bar, etc.



answers from Oklahoma City on

It's sad they don't get to go to the lunch room and eat like the other school kids. That's too bad.

I think it's hard to do a lunch for kids. Like you I had issues with not having heated foods when we took the kids to Mother's Day Out. But the truth is they didn't even eat half of what I packed. It was such a waste of money because I spent a lot of money on individual size foods and the kids just tossed them, unopened, into the trash. Kids want to eat what everyone else is eating...

Pinterest is a good idea. I used to take Taste of Home magazine and there was a section for lunch ideas. There are other magazines that have sections like this too.

I appreciate the kids eating lunch at school and I won't let them take their lunch, they just have to make do.

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