Frugal and Easy Bag Lunch Ideas

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Here's a list of 22 frugal and easy bag lunch ideas for your kids to try this school year.

My kid is notorious for liking the same lunch all year-round. I mean, how boring! So, this year, we’re going to change it up a bit with some frugal and easy bag lunch ideas.

I’ve been asking him all summer about his lunches, and these are the bag lunch ideas that he was actually interested in trying.

Some ideas I found on the internet, and others I thought up myself when remembering what his favorite dinners are. I hope these bag lunch ideas spark some inspiration in you and your kiddos!

Creating a meal plan for the month is so simple! This post shares 3 steps to get your monthly meal plan done in 10 minutes.

22 Frugal and Easy Bag Lunch Ideas

  1. Spread peanut butter on a whole wheat tortilla. Place a banana in it, roll it up, and cut on a bias.
  2. Spread peanut butter on a whole wheat tortilla. Place a banana in it, roll it up, and cut into SUSHI size pieces. Drizzle with warmed jelly or honey.
  3. Create a “smores” yogurt: put plain yogurt in a reusable small container. Place a dollop of nutella in the middle and some graham cracker or cookie crumbles over the top.
  4. Send in chicken, egg, or tuna salad with a side of crackers for scooping.
  5. Nix the bread and do cold cut rolls ups. Spread mustard or mayo right on the meat, place a long slice of cheese inside, along with a sliced piece of pickle (or even avocado!). Roll up like a burrito and secure with a toothpick.
  6. Make your sandwiches tiny and with crackers! Create your own “lunchables” at home and send them off to school with it. Show them how to make the “sandwiches” the night before.
  7. Send in plain yogurt with some of their favorite cereal crushed up as a “topping.”
  8. Buy the canned cling peaches in pear juice. Chop up and send in as a side dish.
  9. Save your apple skins and turn them into apple chips.
  10. Make it Mexican: send in a small thermos
    filled with taco meat. Also send in shredded cheese and tortilla chips.
  11. Make a “banana bun sandwich”: Peanut butter spread in a hot dog roll and place a banana, sliced long ways, in the middle.
  12. Send in brunch: Place sausage in the middle of a pancake and roll up. Add some shredded cheese to the middle to really make it “brunch worthy.”
  13. Deviled eggs! If your kids love them, they would be a great treat for lunch. You can even top with chopped bacon, sliced turkey, or another “extra protein.”
  14. Rice salad: take last night’s protein (cooked mushrooms, chicken, etc) and chop finely. Add in some chopped veggies and toss together with leftover cold (brown) rice. Add in a few dollops of their favorite dressing and some shredded cheese, if you like.
  15. Place a chopped up potato in a thermos. Top with meat sauce or chili. Send in shredded cheese on the side.
  16. Hot dogs to go: place cooked hot dogs (chicken, turkey or tofu) in a thermos, send in hot dog buns and take-out packets of ketchup or mustard.
  17. Make hummus or black bean dip and send in some cool dippers: bread sticks, veggie chips, whole grape tomatoes, cubed chicken on tooth picks, etc.
  18. Make frozen layered yogurt parfaits. Layer with plain yogurt, chopped up fruit of choice and jelly of choice. Put in freezer the night before. It will be thawed by lunchtime.
  19. Edemame side snack. Buy frozen edamame (soy beans), microwave the night before and add some flavoring to them, like garlic powder, onion powder or even a little soy sauce. Send in as a side snack.
  20. Deconstructed BLT. Send in chopped bacon, lettuce and sliced grape tomatoes, with a small side of ranch dressing. Tell them to pour the dressing over the mix, put the top back on tight, and shake before eating. Fun!
  21. Make cinnamon sugar tortilla chips.
  22. Place mac and cheese in a thermos and send in “mix-ins” that they’ll like: cubed tomatoes, chopped bacon, chopped broccoli, cubed ham, etc.

Looking for the proper way to use a thermos and keep food hot all day? I have a post and video for that too!

What are some of our favorite bag lunch ideas for kids to try during the school year?

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About Amiyrah

My name is Amiyrah and I'm an an African American fashion & lifestyle blogger based in Ohio.

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  1. 8.14.12
    Alex M said:

    Great ideas! I like making guacamole sammiches — with black beans. Fruit sammiches too — with pears, apple, etc. and hummus. Add some cheese if you have it…

  2. 8.14.12
    Tricia O. said:

    If only I could get my five-year-old to eat any of those things. What I will send to school for him to eat is seriously stressing me out-he is the pickiest eater ever. I’ve sent him to OT for sensory issues, read tons of books about how to get him to eat…nothing.

  3. 8.15.12
    Amiyrah said:


    besides the banana ideas, all of these will be tests for us. These are things that he said he likes and would like to try for lunch, so 2nd grade will be our experimental year. I’m HOPING he at least likes half of these and I can just rotate them. I’ll do a follow-up post on what worked and what didn’t.

  4. 8.15.12
    Amiyrah said:


    The guac sammies would be good for the little girl, but not my boy. He’s like me and gets weird about avocado…unless it’s in a dessert lol. Hummus? Absolutely. He loves black bean hummus the most, with chips. Hey, that’s another meal! Thanks for the idea lol.

  5. 8.16.12

    I so want to try making the pb sushi. For some reason things taste better when they are showcased cutely!

  6. 8.17.12

    Awesome list of lunch ideas! I’m going to have to snag some of these for my daughter this year. 🙂 Thanks.

  7. 8.23.12
    Margaret said:

    What great ideas, I was trying to think of some things for my daughter to take and these are perfect!! Thanks for sharing.

  8. 10.25.18
    Sam said:

    These ideas are too good. I am seriously just going to use this forever for my lunches from now on….

    • 10.25.18
      Amiyrah said:

      That makes me so happy, Sam! I’m so glad the list is helpful to you!

  9. 8.14.20
    Mrs.P said:

    I love this list but there are so many peanut butter options! Our schools are all nut free…otherwise a great list!

    • 8.17.20
      Amiyrah said:

      The peanut butter options can easily be replaced with sun butter, soy butter or pea butter 🙂