Stuck in a lunchtime rut? Use these fun lunch ideas for home to make your meal planning quick and easy this week. Start with leftovers or make from scratch—either way, lunch may just become your favorite meal of the day!
Lunchtime can so often get overlooked and completely left out of a meal plan. This can cause frustration when lunchtime rolls around and you're starving with NO PLAN! Avoid the inevitable mid-day drive-through trip and plan ahead with these delicious lunch ideas for home instead.
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Many of these lunchtime favorites can be made with simple kitchen staples and many also with leftovers. If you're working with a tight budget, coordinate your meals so they use many of the same ingredients. For example, if you're planning pulled pork for dinner, have pulled pork BBQ sandwiches for lunch the next day. Meal planning WIN!
TIPS FOR KEEPING LUNCH FUN AND HEALTHY
Remember the acronym C.A.R.E. when planning you or your children's lunches!
- C: Colorful – Keep your lunches colorful with plenty of fruits and vegetables.
- A: Attractive – Use some inexpensive tools to make your lunches creative and pretty, too.
- R: Real – Use as much ‘real' and fresh food as possible to keep your lunches healthy and delicious.
- E: Easy – Most of these lunches are easy to prepare and can be made in only a few minutes or from leftovers.
Follow these basic guidelines and you'll have a healthy, creative meal on the table in no time.
SANDWICHES AND WRAPS
Nothing screams lunchtime like a sandwich, right? Well, these delicious lunch ideas can be made into a classic sandwich OR a tasty wrap. For even more variety, switch up your bread type. Try ciabatta, croissants, Hawaiian rolls, hoagies and anything else you can think of!
- Chicken Salad – Make it with plain greek yogurt for a slightly healthier version. Add in whatever you have—nuts, dried fruit, fresh fruit, celery and seasonings!
- Bacon Lettuce and Tomato – Nothing beats a classic BLT.
- Pulled Pork BBQ – Try this recipe. Don't have pork? Use any leftover shredded meat you have.
- Meatball Sub – If you turn this one into a wrap, cut the meatballs into pieces for better handling.
- Tuna Salad – So quick and easy!
- Buffalo Chicken – Celery and blue cheese pair so well with this one!
- Patty Melt – Perfect for using up that leftover ground meat.
- California Club – A traditional club sandwich with an avocado twist.
- Hot Ham and Swiss Rolls – Stuff rolls with cheese and ham then brush the tops with seasoned butter before wrapping in foil and baking.
- Deli Sandwich – Mix up the ordinary deli sandwich with extra veggies like avocado, tomato, cucumber, sprouts and cream cheese. Trust us… it's GOOD!
- Smoked Salmon Bagel – Delicious for breakfast or lunch… this is one of our FAVORITES!
Pair these tasty sandwiches and wraps with a side of fruit or a simple side salad for a healthy alternative to chips.
SALAD LUNCH AT HOME IDEAS
Salads make a great main course or a perfect side. Not a big salad fan? We are pretty sure these delicious recipes will change your mind. Try one… or a few. You'll be hooked!
- DIY Mason Jar Salad – Here's how you do it!
- Strawberry Spinach Salad – Try this delicious recipe!
- Chicken Caesar Salad – All you need for this one is romaine, chicken, parmesan cheese and dressing. SO easy!
- Taco Salad – Bust that Mexican food craving with this healthier swap!
- BLT Pasta Salad – Deconstruct the classic BLT into a salad with bowtie pasta. Okay… NOT low carb, but sooo good and filling!
- Cobb Salad – Go with traditional Cobb toppings or mix it up with whatever you have on hand.
- Homemade Chef Salad – Chop up some deli meat and transform it into a yummy salad!
- Arugula Salad – Add in grapes, feta cheese, avocado and toasted pecans. Dress with olive oil, honey and balsamic vinegar for a healthy, sweet treat!
Mix it up and add a few salad varieties to your menu this week to avoid getting tired of the same old thing.
MEATLESS LUNCH IDEAS
Mixing in a few meatless meals is a great way to save a few bucks and keep that budget on track. Here are some meatless lunch options that are so good, you won't even know they're vegetarian!
- Veggie Sandwich – Add anything you like… tomatoes, cucumber, sprouts, lettuce, onion, bell peppers… there's no wrong combination. Don't forget the avocado to add in that creamy texture!
- Grown-Up Grilled Cheese – Add tomatoes, basil and avocado to whatever kind of cheese you love best!
- Egg Salad Sandwich – Add avocado chunks to the egg salad for some extra nutrients. Put it on bread for a sandwich or add it to a bed of lettuce.
- Quinoa Salad in a Jar – Quinoa mixed with your favorite grilled or roasted veggies—for those days when you just need a little more substance!
- Fried Egg Sandwich – Add ham, turkey, cheese, tomatoes, arugula and mayo.
- Chickpea Salad Sandwich – Think chicken salad… with chickpeas instead of chicken!
There are so many delicious flavor profiles veggies can bring.
FUN LUNCH IDEAS FOR KIDS AT HOME
We all know kids are creatures of habit. Anyone else find their little ones demanding the same boring lunch day after day? Mix it up with these fun ideas they are sure to love!
- Kid “Sushi” – This is a super fun take on a PB&J. Spread peanut butter and jelly on a tortilla and roll it up. Slice it into small “sushi rolls” for a fun surprise!
- Avocado Toast – This yummy take on a healthy adult dish is sure to please your picky eater. Top with bacon and a drizzle of maple syrup.
- Broccoli Egg Bites – Eggs, cheese and… broccoli?? Shhh, they won't even know it's in there. Mix together with ripped up bread pieces and bake in greased muffin tins.
- Zucchini Pizza Bites – Do your kids love those microwavable pizza bites? Try these instead! Slice zucchini and rub with olive oil. Top with pizza sauce, mozzarella and chopped up pepperonis. Bake until bubbly and the zucchini is cooked. Warning… these are addicting!!
- Sausage on a Stick – What kid doesn't love food on a stick? Slice up sausage and stick a tooth pick in each piece for a fun take.
- Breakfast for Lunch – Eggs, pancakes and bacon… they'll think this is a blast! Add in a homemade yogurt parfait for a little sweetness.
They be gobbling these fun lunchtime meals up without you even having to tell them to. Now, THAT is a miracle!
CHEAP LUNCH IDEAS FOR KIDS
These kid favorites are CHEAP and will help you stay on budget and keep their belly full.
- DIY Lunchable – Cheaper and healthier than the real thing. Plus you can make them a few different ways!
- Quesadilla – Keep it simple for the kids or try the adult version here!
- Cheese Board – Cut blocks of cheese, crackers, rolled up deli meat, and a few small veggies like carrots and broccoli.
- Spinach Grilled Cheese – This is a great way to sneak in a few super greens in a way they will love.
- Broccoli Mac and Cheese – Toss in a bit of steamed broccoli to your homemade macaroni and cheese for an indulgent, homemade treat! (You can also throw in sweet potato or carrot baby food and your family will be none-the-wiser.)
- PB&J – Use a cookie cutter and cut it into fun shapes to make it more fun. These also freeze great for an easy grab and go lunch.
- Pizza Rolls – String cheese-stuffed crescent rolls dipped in pizza sauce, yummmm. Add spinach inside for a healthy touch.
Get even more lunchtime meal prep ideas for kids here!
These lunch ideas for home are sure to break up the boring and put some pizzaz into that often overlooked meal. What are your favorite lunchtime go-to meals? Tell us in the comments below!
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Where do you buy the metal lunch trays?
I could use some of these ideas for myself! Lunch is the worst!
I want my baby girl, and her sister on the way, to be old enough just so I can try these out with them lol. Until then, maybe I’ll give them ago 😉 …or at least the C.A.R.E. plan! Love Deals-to-eals! I really want to be a member, but wonder, would that fall under the “budget” category, or just overall “expenses” category? Thanks!
I hate making lunch, so thank you for the tips! I think I need to remember to keep it colorful for my little ones. I bought lunchtrays at my DI and they are one of the best purchases I have ever made.
So fun to see so many different and ingenious ideas! Thanks for the photos and links!
I always struggle with lunch ideas. Besides a sandwich. So so love the different healthy ideas!
Oh! I NEED all these lunch ideas! Lunch is the hardest! My kids are home every day and I feel like we always eat the same thing ?
100k give away!
Keri, try Life Without Plastic’s website! They have containers similar to these.
Loving these ideas!!!
I’m wondering how much this will cost if I have nothing already at home
Oh, do I need school lunch ideas!
These are so great! Is there a printable like you have with your dinners? Would love to print and keep in my kitchen – especially during quarantine!
Not yet, but we’re working on one! 🙂
I would love to see your homemade Mac n cheese recipe! I saw it in a video and it sounded so good. It’s probably super simple but just curious!😂
Mine is different than most recipes! You make a roux which is equal parts butter and flour (usually 4T I’d guess?). Let that melt and get thick, then slowly add milk a little at a time (maybe 1/3C at a time). Let it get thick each time you add it. Once you have your desired amount of sauce add salt & pepper and cheese to taste. Then mix with drained hot pasta. Enjoy! 🙂