With summer speeding by, kids will be heading back to the classroom soon!
Do you need some inspiration for getting back into the school year rhythm of packing lunches?
I don’t know about you, but I think it’s rather hard to find quality, kid-friendly lunch recipes made with real food.
That's where we come in. Get ready to send the kiddos back to school with this collection of easy, nourishing, healthy, and delicious Instant Pot school lunch ideas!
Many of us already LOVE the Instant Pot — it makes cooking easy! We use it for main dishes, side dishes, and desserts. And now… it's time for back-to-school lunches. You won’t find any processed ingredients in these recipes — just whole foods meant to nourish and fuel the body.
To keep it exciting and fresh for kids, I've included a wide variety of options, from proteins to veggies, soups to snacks, dairy-free and gluten-free, and even special treats. Feel free to mix and match!
Need Help Choosing Non-Toxic Lunch Box Containers?
Here are my favorite non-toxic, no plastic, eco-friendly lunch box options!
- PlanetBox bento boxes — These allow for a great variety of food to be packed in a single container! My family has the “Rover“, and we love their “Launch” style too!
- LunchBots bento boxes — Another great option for packing a variety of food. My favorite is the “Trio II” style.
- ECOlunchbox bento boxes — My oldest has had the “Three-In-One” style for her entire time at elementary school so far. It's held up great for 6 years! There's now a new “Giant” size, too.
- LunchBots insulated thermal containers — These work great for soups and hot food. I like their 8 ounce size for kid lunches, but they have 12 ounce and 16 ounce containers as well.
Image courtesy of Live Simply.
- On-the-Go Mini Frittatas — How cute are these? They’re perfect for lunches, can be made ahead of time, are packed with veggies, have a dairy-free option, and cook in 5 minutes!
- Super Easy Macaroni and Cheese — This calls for einkorn pasta, but if you need it to be gluten-free, look for Jovial brand gluten-free pasta! It's my favorite brand because Jovial uses the old-school traditional extruder machines that aren't coated with Teflon. That's hard to find these days!
- Mediterranean Spinach Feta Pie — Serve this savory “pie” by the slice! Similar to a frittata with the lovely flavors of spanakopita, it’s nutrient-dense, packed with spinach and has a hint of sweet nutmeg. So yummy!
- Best Chicken Breast — Eat this beautifully seasoned chicken as-is or slice it up for salads and sandwiches! It has a unique cooking method, and bonus: you can use fresh or frozen chicken breast.
- Shredded Chicken — Seasoned with salsa (or made plain), this shredded chicken is perfect for lettuce wraps, burritos, or rolled into traditional wraps.
- Paleo Cranberry Chicken Salad — Sweet dried cranberries mixed throughout chicken salad are always yummy!
- Spinach Garlic Meatballs — Kiddos love meatballs and these are a great way to get some spinach into their lunch meal.
- Quinoa Beef Stuffed Chard — Wrap the kids' food up in chard like presents and see how much they love it! A sure hit!
- Butternut Squash Rice Porridge — A nourishing feast! This porridge is quite the savory treat.
- Tomato Soup — Who doesn’t love a classic bowl of tomato soup with some crackers or a sandwich? This tried and true soup is always a favorite of kiddos. It’s packed with veggies, healthy fat and nourishing bone broth.
- Chipotle Chicken & Vegetable Soup — Overflowing with veggies, this protein-rich soup has a mild, smoky flavorful heat that kiddos enjoy. Simply halve the amount of seasoning if your kids prefer less.
- Blended Vegetable Soup — Use this recipe and ratios to make whatever kind of blended veggie soup that your kids enjoy most!
- Fall Harvest Soup — The perfect cozy soup, especially when kids are going back to school in the fall.
- Tomato Basil Soup — This version is sure to please tomato soup lovers! It’s full of basil which is the perfect compliment to tomatoes. It’s extra yummy with a grilled cheese or quesadilla dipped in it.
- Quick & Easy Potato Soup — Kids love potatoes! This soup is so easy and sure to be a family favorite.
- Cheesy Chicken Broccoli Soup — Cheesy broccoli soup gets dressed up with a nice little dose of extra protein! Serve this soup with biscuits or crackers in the lunch box.
- Paleo Creamy Broccoli Dill Soup — For kids who can’t have dairy or prefer a veggie-based soup, this broccoli dill soup is super creamy even sans dairy, and yummy alongside a sandwich, biscuits, or crackers.
- Corn Chowder — Most kids love corn and the creamy, thick texture of chowders. This one is topped with crunchy bacon for an extra special treat.
- Ground Beef Kale Soup — A bowlful of nourishing goodness including protein and greens for a well-balanced addition to the lunch box!
Beans, Rice & Veggies
Image courtesy of What Great Grandma Ate.
- Homemade Baked Beans — This flavorful kid favorite can be made vegetarian if you prefer. Simply sub a natural sweetener like maple syrup, coconut syrup, or honey for the brown sugar.
- Refried Beans — Simple and mild, these are perfect for kids! Serve as a dip with shredded cheese and sliced olives on the top with a side of chips.
- Pinto or Black Refried Beans — I love that this recipe gives you two options for the types of beans you can use. Variety is always nice! These would also be great served as a dip with chips or slathered into a burrito or wrap.
- Easy Spanish Rice — Pair this rice with refried beans, or add it to a burrito or taco salad. Mmm!
- Paleo “Roasted” Garlic Lemon Broccoli — Kids almost always love broccoli, and this particular broccoli dish is super flavorful.
- Baked Potatoes — My kids love potatoes, especially baked potatoes! These are great for lunches and you can send along some fun toppings like shredded cheese, sour cream, and crispy bacon bits.
Snacks & Sides
Image courtesy of Recipes to Nourish.
- Easy Homemade Yogurt — Make this yogurt extra special by topping with a drizzle of raw honey, diced fruit, and homemade granola.
- 3 Minute Naturally Sweetened Applesauce — My favorite childhood snack, hands-down! Now I make this every fall for my own kids and serve it with a little ground cinnamon sprinkled on the top. It’s SO good and super easy to make!
- 3 Minute Sugar-Free Pear Applesauce — With pears for extra flavor, kids will devour this applesauce!
- Popcorn — Such a fun addition to a lunch box! Kids love to snack on popcorn.
- Sour Cream & Sriracha Deviled Eggs — Sour cream lends these a lovely creamy base. They're easy, mild, and kid-friendly.
- Easy Cilantro Lime Deviled Eggs — These are a family favorite in my home and absolutely loved by my youngest. I share my family’s special ingredient (passed down from generations) that we’ve always used in deviled eggs (hint: it's a healthy fat!). There’s no mayo in these either, just sour cream and some other special flavors. If your kids dislike cilantro or lime, go ahead and leave either out.
- No-Fail Hard Boiled Eggs — This simple method BRILLIANTLY makes big batches of hard boiled eggs!
- 4 Minute Hard Boiled Eggs — Hard boiled eggs are the perfect food to have on hand for lunches throughout the week.
Image courtesy of Recipes to Nourish.
- Orange Creamsicle Custard Cups — Packed into a fun little jar, this orange creamsicle flavor screams bliss! Kids and adults alike will love it.
- 5 Minute Chocolate Pudding — To make these treats extra special, sprinkle chocolate shavings or chocolate chips on top.
- Lemon Pudding Cups — Another fun flavor beloved by kiddos! And who doesn’t love a pudding cup? I’d say any kid or adult would happily enjoy this surprise in their lunch.
- Rice Pudding — My husband and I grew up eating rice pudding as a kids. We loved it then and still love it today. It’s such a fun treat for kids with the lovely hints of sweet spices and the creamy, soft texture of the rice. This recipe is perfection!
- Paleo Chocolate Chip Banana Bread — I’ve never met a kid who didn’t love banana bread. Slather the slices with some grass-fed butter, coconut butter, or sunbutter if you want to add an extra healthy fat to it.
Did you find these Instant Pot school lunch ideas helpful? How do you prep for packing kid-friendly school lunches?
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