1. Parenting

101 Ideas for Kids' Lunches

An Easy, Flexible Menu for Kids' Lunches

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A mom makes her kids' lunches

Stumped on ideas for kids' lunches? Think beyond peanut butter and jelly on white.

Photo © Monika Adamczyk / Fotolia
Boring kids' lunches are criticized more than a professional chef's cooking. Whether you're eating at home or packing the kids' lunches for school, these tasty options please the pickiest palettes.

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Soups for Kids' Lunches

1. Alphabet beef soup
A can of alphabet soup can't compare with mom's home cooked alphabet soup.

2. Chicken noodle soup
Warm chicken noodle soup sneaks in carrots, peas and celery.

3. Potato and ham soup
Kids won't feel like they've had a bowl of soup when you add potatoes, ham and cheese.

4. Beef noodle soup
Make this soup tonight and tomorrow's lunch is finished.

5. Wendy's chili
Chili is an easy option for the lunch thermos during the winter months.

6. Turkey chili
A lighter chili alternative is a lean turkey chili that uses tomatoes, cheese and beans.

7. Beef stew
Warm their tummies with beef stew. Veggies include potatoes, celery and carrots.

Sandwiches and Wraps for Kids' Lunches

8. Gourmet peanut butter and jelly sandwich
Add a frying pan and butter to the PB&J staple and you've kicked it up to a gourmet treat.

9. Cream cheese and jelly sandwich
This crunchy, sweet sandwich won't be traded in the cafeteria.

10. Pita bread pizza
Kids can fill pita bread at lunchtime to make their pizzas or pre-fill pita bread at home so it's ready to go.

11. Chicken panini
A recipe so delicious, it will become a regular in your kids' lunches.

12. Parmesan tuna sandwich
To make this better-tasting tuna recipe more kid-friendly, leave out the bell pepper and green onions.

13. Bacon and tuna spread
For the lunchbox, throw in a cold pack since the spread contains cream cheese and mayonnaise.

14. Egg salad sandwich
Cayenne pepper adds to the flavor of this egg sandwich but it won't make the kids' eyes water.

15. Chocolate peanut butter sandwich
This sweet sandwich will be a welcome find on the kids' plates at lunchtime.

16. Hot ham and cheese sub
For cold school lunches, wait until the sandwich has cooled to add cheese.

17. Ham, cheese and peach sandwich
When the kids get tired of the peach flavor, switch it out for another of their favorite jams.

18. Grilled peanut butter and banana sandwich
Maybe the King had it right all along. Put a spin on peanut butter by adding thinly sliced bananas.

19. Low calorie pulled pork sandwich
Serve these up for dinner and send the leftovers to school the next day.

20. Sloppy Joes
Always a favorite with kids, Sloppy Joes can be ready in 25 minutes.

21. Fruit sandwich
Get kids to eat cottage cheese with a dried fruit, Swiss and brown bread combination.

22. Cheese spread sandwich
Make a homemade cheese spread based on your family's personal tastes. Substitute the white wine and hot sauce with water, white grape juice or apple juice.

23. Chicken salad with apples and cranberries
Serve on a plate or as a sandwich. Grapes can be used instead of cranberries. Chop the grapes into tiny pieces for younger eaters.

24. Artichoke cheese dip
This dip doubles as a sandwich spread. The cheese will keep kids from turning their noses up at the thought of eating artichokes.

25. Philly cheese steak
Add lots of protein to the kids' diets. Tastes great even without the peppers!

26. Cream cheese roll up
Easy for mom. Yummy for the kids. Roll up the ingredients in a tortilla and you're done.

27. Roast beef roll up
Turn deli meat into a roast beef roll up. Skip the horseradish if the kids don't like the kick.

28. Chicken crescent roll up
Stuffed crescent rolls are easy to eat. Leave out the cayenne red pepper sauce for younger kids.

29. Ham and turkey wrap
Give kids a nutritious lunch that won't have their bellies rumbling before 4 p.m. Substitute arugula for iceberg lettuce to tone down the taste.

30. Pizza wrap
Add anything kids like to these tortilla pizza wraps.

31. Turkey avocado wrap
The words "avocado" and "kids" can go together and this fast recipe is one they'll gobble up.

32. BLT wrap
Cream cheese, tomatoes and ranch are some of the stars in this BLT wrap.

Hearty Dishes for Kids' Lunches

33. Homemade ravioli
Fill a thermos with the ravioli to keep them warm in school lunches.

34. English muffin pizza
These are so easy to make and kids never get tired of eating them.

35. Bean and cheese quesadilla
The bean and cheese mixture can be added to a hot thermos so kids can prepare fresh quesadillas in less than a minute.

36. Cheese quesadilla
Kids of all ages love this recipe. Only a few ingredients are needed.

37. Mini meatball sliders
From tots to teens, tiny meatballs prepared with Rice Krispies and a bite-sized piece of cheese will be a big hit.

38. Gluten-free macaroni and cheese
Mac 'n cheese is no stranger to a kids' menu. This recipe makes enough to freeze for future lunches.

39. Beanie weenie casserole
The classic campfire dish can be served at the kitchen table or, for school, put a hot pack in an insulated lunch box so it will stay warm.

40. Spaghetti with meatballs
Kids love spaghetti and meatballs but it's often overlooked as an easy lunch.

41. Turkey tacos
For school, use tortillas if you make the tacos at home. Or, put the meat in a small thermos and let the kids fill hard-shell tacos at school.

42. Veggie pot pie
Try a pot pie that promises you won't miss the meat.

43. Stuffed hamburgers
Kids get a great burger without the mess of cheese, bacon and mushrooms falling onto their laps.

44. Honey chicken kabobs
Kabobs for kids! Keep the veggies warm to retain that freshly-grilled taste.

45. Burritos
These burrito ideas vary your kids' lunches with a few changes in ingredients.

46. Vegetable lasagna
Kids won't be able to tell they're eating zucchini and mushrooms. They'll just know the lasagna's good.

47. Mini sausage quiches
Quiches for kids? Of course! Reduce some of the quiche's kick with mild sausage and don't add in the red bell pepper, garlic or hot sauce.

48. Low fat chicken nuggets
Trade fatty fried chicken nuggets for lower-fat baked nuggets without missing the taste. Add homemade honey mustard for a dipping sauce.

49. Grilled chicken quesadilla
These quesadillas are excellent hot or cold. For school, the grated cheese can be added at lunch.

50. Tuna tacos
Step away from the tuna sandwich routine and give tuna tacos a try. Easy to eat at home or at school.

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