What to Pack for Lunch - No Sandwiches

Updated on April 04, 2013
D.C. asks from Pittsburgh, PA
29 answers

Hi, what do you put in your child's packed lunch?
I'd like to pack my child's lunch more often, but the biggest hurdle is that I'm at a loss as to what to pack. He doesn't like sandwiches of any kind. He doesn't like yogurt. He doesn't like peanut butter. He doesn't like soup. And he can't heat anything up, although I do have a thermos that is made for things like soup.

Of course I put in some fruit, which he likes. But I'd like some way to include some protein, because he has a long day (lunch at 11:30 AM, and he goes to after care, so he doesn't get home until 5:30).

I'm stumpted. Ideas?

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answers from Miami on

My son doesn't like sandwiches either!

Boiled Eggs (with a dash of salt)
Rolled up deli meat
Sliced chicken breast with Ranch Dip
Sliced cheeses
Cooked/sliced hot dog (mine likes them room temp, so it works for us)
Quesadilla (I make it the night before, slice and pack)

Other things I send:
- carrot sticks
- fruits
- Sliced bell peppers/cucumbers
- Crackers and cheese
- Bread and butter
- a little "sweet snack" like Teddy Grahams

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

Lettuce wraps with meat.
Cold slice of meat loaf.
Cold chicken leg.
Hard boiled egg.
Tortilla roll up.
String cheese
Cold meatballs.
Mac & cheese in a Thermos.
BBQ meatballs warm in Thermos.
Cheese & crackers & pepperoni.

Can you tell I have a sandwich hater too? Lol

1 mom found this helpful

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answers from San Antonio on

I do all sorts of things for my kids. I have made "sushi" rolls. I use tortillas, put meat, veggies (greens, peppers, cucumbers, whatever), sometimes cheese, and I roll it up, cut it into pieces, lay them in the container sideways so they look like sushi rolls.

Does he like Lunchables? Make your own. Get cheese squares, crackers, pepperoni, things like that and make a "lunchable."

I make mac and cheese, spaghetti o's, spaghetti, etc and put it in the thermos' for the kids. Just be sure to put boiling water in the thermos first to heat it up. Dump the water, then add the hot food. It'll stay hot until lunch.

Make a salad. I made one the other day that the kids called a pizza salad. It was salad greens, pepperoni, peppers and cheese.

My kids have the Rubbermaid Lunch Blox. It's great for portions. It has one sandwich size, one long and two small containers.


2 moms found this helpful


answers from Columbia on

If mine were that picky I'd refuse to pack a lunch. He can eat whatever they have at school.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Las Vegas on

At our house, we eat leftovers, so it's not uncommon for my son to eat grilled chicken over veggies/rice, pasta, pork chops..Lasagne, homemade wraps.. basically, whatever we had for dinner..

I no longer think in terms of "lunch food" but instead think about food my son enjoys. He's not a picky eater , although he does prefer healthier food over what he calls " generation food" in other words, junk food such as chicken nuggets, boxed juice.. etc..

If your son will eat left overs, then try that route. My son's lunch has become very eclectic over the years :) but if he doesn't mind and eats it, then it's all good by me .

good luck

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Tampa on

I'm so using some of the replies you've gotten! I second the the idea that it doesn't have to be "lunch" food. With your restrictions, I would go with leftovers from dinner, since you know what he likes to eat.

Other things that are popular with my kiddos: pastas, veggies (both steamed and raw), hard boiled eggs, nuts, string cheese, hotdogs, granola bars, muffins, and multi grain crackers.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Try weelicious.com this lady makes lunches for her kid and takes a picture everyday. She has some off the beaten path lunch ideas!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Wraps w/grilled chicken & veggies, wrapped in foil

Salami, sliced cheese, crackers

Soup heated up at home till it's HOT then place in theros, send w/crackers

Send some protein bars (find one he likes poss w/chococate in it)

Protein smoothie drink packed w/those ice packs. Be sure he has a good
lined & insulated lunch bag (get one that's masculine so he won't mind)

Tuna in a can w/a can opener, crackers & a little packet of mayo

Carrot sticks w/Ranch

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I bought a funtainer thermos. My kid wasn't a fan of sandwiches for a long time (thankfully, he has become a convert!). My kiddo also detests peanut butter. I use the food thermos to put just about anything warm in there. When we get up I use our Keurig to fill it up with hot water and warm it up. Right before we leave I warm up or cook the lunch. I try to make it hotter than I would serve it to keep it warm longer. We leave the house around 7:30 and my son eats at noon. He says it stays warm until lunch.

-Chicken nuggets
-Mac and cheese
-Fried Rice
-Pasta of all kinds
-Hot dogs (I leave the hot water in and curl them around the thermos, he puts them together at school)
-Sliders...we make our own but TGI Fridays has a microwaveable burger that fits in our thermos, I just need to make sure to pack a fork to help pop it out.
-Leftover shepherd's pie
-Cut up leftover steak

Sometimes we use the thermos to keep things cold too. I'll pack it the night before. Just yesterday he brought leftover potato salad. Last week he made his own tossed salad. (I put the salad in the thermos and toppings in baggies so he could build his own)

Other stuff we add at times:
Cheese and cheesesticks
Beef jerky
Sliced pepperoni or lunchmeat (homemade lunchables)
humus with veggies, fruit or crackers
Mini snack skewers (cubed meat on toothpicks)
Hummus wraps
Boiled eggs
Cottage cheese (with canned peaches)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

If you have a little time in the am, make some hot items like mac n cheese or any other dish you would normally make him for dinner and put it in a thermos - it will stay very warm until lunch.

Little ones can still have a well-rounded meal without having a "main" dish. For example - fruit, veggies and dip or ants on a log (cream cheese on celery with raisins), a healthy muffin of some sort, a hard boiled egg, some veggie or chicken soup in a thermos, oatmeal with fruit in a thermos - there are tons of ways to do this! You just have to break youself of the idea there has to be a compartmentalized lunch box.

Check her out - she takes pics daily of what she sent with her kiddos and she has awesome ideas. She also explains why you don't need to track protein and why you get enough in your daily diet. http://www.100daysofrealfood.com/2013/02/04/school-lunch-...

Also more great sources: http://weelicious.com/ and http://moneysavingmom.com/recipes



answers from Kansas City on

how about some cheese snacks and crackers? i give my son trisket crackers and some cheese snacks along with maybe 1-2 slices of deli ham, salami or roast beef.



answers from Dallas on

Will he eat crackers? If so put together something similar to a lunchable. Crackers, Cheese and lunch meat. That way it's not a sandwich. Maybe some baby carrotts.



answers from Minneapolis on

Have you tried drinkable yogurt or even freezing the squeezable yogurts? My kids love them frozen! Cheese and crackers and even some pepperoni or salami. We've also done corn dogs, they make a whole grain one now. I would agree with trying to get protein in though. Cheese sticks or cubes, grilled cheese


answers from Los Angeles on

Tortilla roll-ups with whatever he may like on the interior, hard boiled eggs, hummus and pita chips (Trader Joes has ready-made packs, perfect for lunches), cold pizza slices, trail mix, cheese/crackers/salami ...


answers from Grand Forks on

My boys are tired of sandwiches, can't have peanut butter at school, and are also unable to heat anything up. They like to bring crackers, cheese, buns, muffins, deli meat, fruit, raw veggies, pudding, granola bars, yogurt, cereal, chicken nuggets, waffles and hot dogs. (They will eat the hot dogs, waffles and nuggets cold.)



answers from Dallas on

Great ideas! I was there with my second child. Only thing I haven't seen is sometimes I would make cream cheese on graham crackers. The crackers get softer with the cheese so make sure he is ok with that.


answers from Omaha on

You got some great ideas so I won't be long winded. I have a picky eater too. One lunch idea that comes to mind is, I heat up some dinosaur chicken nuggets. They are preservative and hormone free that you can get at Cosco or Hy-Vee. I wrap them in aluminum foil, then put them in a plastic BPA free container on top of a papertowel. I put another papertowel over the wrapped chicken. Then put the lid on. I heat it up in the morning before school. My daughter says it's still warm by lunch at 11:30am.



answers from Jacksonville on

My daughter doesn't like sandwiches either. I do crackers, peanut butter or string cheese, fruit, and something sweet-usually pudding. The cheese would have protein, as would the pudding (a little). Does he like meat at all? Maybe some cubes of ham or turkey.



answers from Washington DC on

I give my DD crackers and cheese or lunchmeat on its own (not between bread). You can also give him a hard boiled egg, a quesadilla with refried beans, tuna or chicken salad in a container vs on bread, shelled nuts...


answers from Salt Lake City on

Do you have a Sam's Club or Costco nearby? Lots of good lunch ideas and items there for a good price.

protein of some sort:
a baggie of sunflower seeds or nuts
hard boiled egg
granola, granola bar or protein bar
tuna (if not on a sandwich, on a salad or crackers or in a cup to eat with a fork)

fruits and veggies:
fruit cup
apple, banana, orange or sliced fruit
frozen grapes
chopped veggies, plain or with with ranch
green salad

babybel cheese or string cheese
crackers or veggie crisp chips
cookie or muffin



answers from Los Angeles on

My daughter takes a lunch EVERY day. I hate it.
I have a thermos - I've tried mac-n-chz, etc - but she says it's not hot enough and doesn't eat it.
She would never eat a salad for lunch.
However, she will eat sandwiches. Although meat & cheese sandwiches don't go over well unless I put them on a french roll, no just plain bread. And she doesn't like whole wheat or whole grain bread, so I buy the Potato bread. I figure it's better than plain old white bread. I buy fruit preserves and make pb&j. Sometimes I do PB&honey or PB&nutella.
If I don't put in a sandwich, I'll put in a boiled egg or a protein bar.
She does like yogurt, so I freeze greek yogurt tubes to pack.
Other than that?
-Fruit cups, apple slices, watermelon or grapes
-Sometimes I can get away with red bell peppers or carrots
-Whole grain Goldfish or pita chips or popcorn
-Fig Newtons or Nutter Butters or NutriGrain bars- I feel like maybe there's some nutritional value in there LOL



answers from Chicago on

Does he like Hard boiled Eggs? Cheese sticks? Can he bring nuts? ( I know some schools don;t let you).

My lunch today, (I eat Gluten Free most of the time), is a few peices of the good lunchmeat, a slice of cheese on a corn tortillia.

Does he like hummas? Beans, there is a good 3 bean salad that can stay cold to be eaten. Taco Salad. Does he like salad? put a little turkey, ham, chicken in it?

Grilled Cheese with meat?

This link has ideas for kids..

Good luck..


answers from Dover on

We have packed nuggets, fish sticks, mashed potatoes, rice, and/or pasta (like tortellini and ravioli) is the thermoses that are made for soups. One of them has a divided insert so we pack something on each side (nuggets and potatoes for exampl). Does he like tuna fish or chicken salad? Pack dish of that. Will he eat that on or with crackers since he doesn't like sandwiches? I have also made our own "lunchables" when my son was young...I would get meat and cheese cut a bit thicker and then cut to cracker size. I was then able to pack other things that he would eat to go with it. Applesauce and/or pudding works too.



answers from Pittsburgh on

So many great responses, I'd just add that when I pack something in a thermos, I always heat the thermos first by filling it with very hot wate. Then just when I'm ready to add whatever I've warmed up (tomato soup, tortellini, etc) I pour out the hot water and add in the lunch item. It helps the food say hotter - a plus if your kid is turned off by lukewarm food.



answers from Boston on

In the thermos:

Macaroni and cheese
Spaghetti & meatballs
Chicken nuggets
Soft tacos (I roll them up and make sure there's a little cheese on the outer edge to "glue" it shut, throw in he microwave to melt the cheese and pack two in a thermos standing on end)
Hot dogs (HD in thermos, bun in a sandwich bag)
Pizza bagels - these are a pain - I put little squares of parchment between them and stack them up in a little tower in the thermos
Dinner leftovers

If he likes cheese, you can send in cheese as a protein (sticks, cubes, whatever) with fruit and crackers

Celery with cream cheese

Bagel with cream cheese

A lot of kids don't mind cold foods - I have a friend who cooks 3# of chicken breast with buffalo sauce every week and that's what her girls have been eating for lunch for years and years. They just throw it in a tupperware and eat it cold.

Hope that helps!


answers from Philadelphia on

foir the main part of lunch
-meat cheese and crackers- we give Emmy salami, suprestta (sp) and peporoini with those pretzel crackers and cheddar and gouda cheese

-we also do salads
-veggies and dip
the below things rarely because the above is easier and healthier but we still do them
-chicken tenders with sauce
-cold pizza
-pancakes and syrup
-corn dogs

then on the side
one serving of fruit or yogurt and then sometimes a small snack (fruit roll up, or piece of candy, or dried fruit)



answers from Chicago on

I didn't read the other responses so I'm sorry if I repeat what others have said. What about homemade lunchables? Crackers, sliced cheese, and some lunchmeat. I add some fruit and jello and a hard boiled egg. It's always a hit.
Or what about wraps? Or lettuce as bread? Sometimes I'll send what we call a loaded salad. Greens with lots of veggies, some shredded deli meat, hard boiled egg whites, nuts, etc.
Good luck! I've got a picky eater too so I get the struggle.

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