Cheap lunch ideas for kids (that you’ll love, too)

Kids eating you out of house and home? This list of cheap lunch ideas for kids can help make meal planning simple, and much easier on the grocery budget.

With an extra-long “summer” last year (2020), I wasn’t surprised to find our grocery bill getting quickly out of hand.

Making lunch at home should be easier than packing lunches, right?

Since there’s a microwave and stove option, you’d think summer lunches would be a breeze.

However, when we’re all at home every day for days on end…

…the running list of “lunch ideas for kids at home” starts to get old, fast!

Anyone else?

graphic of young girl eating a sandwich with text overlay "15 cheap & easy lunch ideas for kids"

This post likely contains affiliate links. Please see our disclosure for more info.

Read next:

Packable Cold Lunches (free printable)

Easy Chocolate Chip Protein Balls

Freeze Ahead Meal Ideas for Summer

Cheap and Easy lunch ideas: a kid-friendly collection

I took some time recently to brainstorm a list of cheap lunch ideas for kids.

This way, I can quickly plan our lunches for the week and I’m not tempted to grab fast food.

(I save those trips for when we really need a change of scenery!).

collage image of collection of cheap lunch ideas for kids/>

Hopefully, these options will help you save money on groceries this summer.

And, maybe take some of the guesswork out of lunch time, too.

1. Healthy Tuna Pasta Salad

A quick lunch that’s also clean eating:

Healthy Tuna Pasta Salad is an excellent choice for kids.

Healthy tuna pasta salad in a large bowl.

2. Grilled Chicken Broccoli Wraps

Some kids, like my son who won’t eat raw brocolli, will eat it in a different way.

Grilled Chicken Broccoli Wraps fit the bill perfectly and only require a few ingredients.

3. Pizza Stuffed Crescent Rolls

With Pizza Stuffed Crescent Rolls, you get the kid-friendly approval rating of pizza with half the effort.

To make it even more budget-friendly, you could make your own crescent rolls.

Another idea: triple this recipe to enjoy for several days (or freeze the extras).

4. Creamy Ham & Pea Pasta

For lunch OR dinner, this 15-minute Creamy Ham and Pea Pasta is an easy pick for kids.

Very few ingredients and lots of flavor.

5. Air Fryer Pizza Rolls

Hands down, the easiest hot lunch for kids to make themselves.

Air Fryer Pizza Roll Ups can be customized with your kids’ favorite fillings.

Four air fryer pizza roll ups on a cutting board with marinara sauce.

6. Homemade Uncrustables

Until my younger kids decide that bread crust on their PB&J Sandwiches isn’t evil and vile…

…uncrustables are a fuss-free option and simply an easy lunch idea for kids that mine never get tired of!

My friend Lauren gives instructions on how she makes her Homemade Uncrustables and freezes them, 48 at a time!

image of homemade uncrustables- idea for cheap lunch for kids

7. The Perfect Tuna Melt

A great source of protein on the cheap!

Try this easy Perfect Tuna Melt recipe from Sarah Titus.

>>If you’re looking for cheap kids lunches to pack for school, try this post too!

cheap lunch for kids- tuna melt

8. Chili Mac

For dinner or lunch, Chili Mac and Cheese is a classic twist on frugal chili.

(Which my kids get a little tired of sometimes!).

cheap lunch ideas-chili mac recipe

Read next: The best cheap Instant Pot Dinners

9. Healthy Veggie Nuggets

If your kids love chicken nuggets- this is a healthy alternative to try.

Healthy Veggie Nuggets are a genius, fun way to get kids eating their veggies.

healthy veggie nuggets on a plate with dipping sauce

10. Bacon Cheddar Ranch Pinwheels

Delicious, easy and full of creamy goodness:

Bacon Cheddar Ranch Pinwheels are an easy lunch to meal prep ahead of time, too.

Also read: 20+ Make-ahead summer dinner ideas

11. Spinach Cheesy Muffins

Another sneaky hidden veggie option!

These Spinach Cheesy Muffins are ideal for younger kids especially.

You know, the kind who might turn their noses up at sandwiches.

12. Ham and Cheese Bagel Quiches

Breakfast for lunch = a win for my kids.

And let’s be real, I rarely get up early enough to make a creative breakfast.

So, Ham and Cheese Bagel Quiches are a fun lunch idea for us.

13. Copycat Chik-Fil-A Nuggets

Copycat Chik-Fil-A nuggets is a recipe you’ll want to be sure and print to save for later.

Because it’s a frugal alternative to the real deal, at a fraction of the drive-thru price!

image of homemade chicken nuggets-budget friendly lunch

14. Easy Instant Pot Chicken and Noodles

The Instant Pot is becoming my newest beloved kitchen accessory (I have this one.)

This SUPER simple Chicken and Noodles Recipe is fast enough to whip up for a weekday lunch!

15. Best Meatball Subs

Meatball subs are a favorite at our house!

You can’t go wrong with gooey mozzarella and meatballs.

Read next: EveryPlate Review: Is it an Affordable Meal Kit for Families?

16. Tostadas

What I love about Tostadas is that not only are they a budget-friendly lunch option for kids –

-but you can easily customize them with as few, or as many of your favorite toppings as you want.

They also take very little time in the kitchen.

17. Loaded Mashed Potato Cakes

Use up your leftover mashed potatoes, add a few yummy ingredients like bacon and cheese…

…and make these Loaded Mashed Potato Cakes.

Definitely a fun alternative to plain ‘ol baked potatoes!

cheap lunch idea for kids: loaded mashed potato cakes stacked on a plate

18. Skillet Chicken Sausage with Apples

Want a lunch that’s super fast and appeals to kids?

Skillet Chicken Sausage with Apples will fit the bill.

19. Black Bean and Cheese Quesadillas

We also love quesadillas at our house. Mexican cuisine is a favorite!

Black beans are another low-cost source of protein to add to your lunch menu.

Serve these Black Bean and Cheese Quesadillas with some sour cream or salsa on the side!

quesadillas -cheap lunch idea  for kids

Cheap lunches for kids at home or on the go

Most of these recipes work the best as kids’ lunch ideas at home, but with a quality thermos or leak-free container, they could easily translate to school lunch ideas as well!

Need more simple lunch ideas? Try our printable Money-Saving Meal Planner.

It includes 20 quick and easy recipes that make lunch (or dinner) stress free!

You might also like:

Packable lunch ideas (printable list)

Cheap, Healthy Snacks for Kids

Best Freezer Meal Ideas for Summer

Easy Dinner Recipes that don’t require a recipe

How to Make your own Sandwich Bread

Freezer to Crockpot Dinners: Make ahead a week of meals

Healthy Chicken Sausage and Veggies

Recommended Products

Post last updated 5/12/23.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top