20 Lunch Snacks to Pack (That Are Way Tastier Than Potato Chips or Sad Carrot Sticks)

Coming up with creative additions to packed lunches can be daunting, whether it’s for yourself or your whole crew. How many times can one eat PB&J with a side of apple slices, really? Instead of resigning yourself to packaged fruit snacks or snooze-worthy carrot sticks, try one of these 20 lunch snacks that are way tastier (but just as easy to prepare). From classic ants on a log to homemade fruit leather, there’s something for everyone—ready thy bento box.

Katherine Gillen

1. Ants On A Log

  • Time Commitment: 5 minutes
  • Why We Love It: ready in <15 minutes, <10 ingredients, kid-friendly

If you ask us, these cuties will never go out of style. It helps that they’re absolutely delicious and have a boost of filling protein. If your kid doesn’t love celery, try swapping it for carrot sticks or apple slices, since they have a similarly crisp texture.

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Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

2. Roasted Mixed Nuts

  • Time Commitment: 15 minutes
  • Why We Love It: ready in <15 minutes, <10 ingredients, beginner-friendly, make ahead

We’ll happily eat nuts by the handful, since they’re full of healthy fats and protein to keep us satisfied. Up the ante by making your own spicy, herby mix. You can use any combination, but we like almonds, pecans, walnuts, cashews and pistachios the best.

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Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

3. Homemade Cheese Crackers

  • Time Commitment: 35 minutes
  • Why We Love It: kid-friendly, crowd-pleaser, <10 ingredients, beginner-friendly

Crunchy, cheesy crackers, but make ’em gourmet. Don’t worry: This recipe is deceptively easy and calls for just six ingredients.

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Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

4. 3-ingredient Almond Butter Cups

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour
  • Why We Love It: no cook, low sugar, paleo, gluten free

Behold, an allergy friendly treat that’s homemade, simple to whip up and a kid favorite. Almond butter avoids the peanut conundrum, but if you’re dealing with a tree nut allergy, try sunflower butter instead.

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Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

5. Roasted Edamame

  • Time Commitment: 25 minutes
  • Why We Love It: ready in <30 minutes, high protein, low sugar

It’s no secret roasting is superior to boiling for flavor alone. Here, the edamame pods get slightly charred in the oven, infusing a smoky flavor into the beans. (Bonus, they have 15 grams of protein in each serving.)

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Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

6. 2-cheese Guacamole

  • Time Commitment: 10 minutes
  • Why We Love It: no cook, high protein, low sugar, ready in <15 minutes

Cheese in your guac? It’s not traditional, but it sure is tasty. To keep this dip from going brown before lunch, squeeze a little extra lime on top before closing the container.

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Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

7. Watermelon Salsa

  • Time Commitment: 15 minutes
  • Why We Love It: ready in <30 minutes, no cook, gluten free, vegan, low sugar

Kids and adults will go wild for the swicy (ahem, sweet and spicy) flavor of this chip dipper. Feel free to adjust the heat to taste, using more or less jalapeño—and omitting the cayenne—for a milder or hotter flavor.

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Ambitious Kitchen

8. Rainbow Fruit Skewers

  • Time Commitment: 20 minutes
  • Why We Love It: kid-friendly, ready in <30 minutes, make ahead

These chocolate-drizzled skewers will give those packaged “fruit” snacks a run for their money. Customization is encouraged, so try any combo of fruit and chocolate your heart desires. (We’re starting with strawberries and white chocolate.)

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Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

9. Almond Butter Granola Bars

  • Time Commitment: 25 minutes
  • Why We Love It: ready in <30 minutes, paleo, high protein, kid-friendly, gluten free

With 19 grams of protein in each serving, these bars are small but mighty. Plus, they can be made days in advance and double as an on-the-go breakfast.

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Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

10. Easy Zucchini Chips

  • Time Commitment: 2 hours
  • Why We Love It: make ahead, <10 ingredients, low carb, <500 calories

Skip the sketchy packaged, puffed “vegetable” crisps in favor of these crispy chips. They’re made with three ingredients and will disappear faster than you can say “French onion dip.”

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Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

11. Almond Butter Stuffed Soft Pretzel Bites

  • Time Commitment: 57 minutes
  • Why We Love It: kid-friendly, low sugar, low fat, paleo

Psst: These bites have a secret. The pretzel crust is made with cassava flour, which is grain-, nut- and gluten-free. That makes this snack paleo and celiac friendly (not to mention delish).

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The Recipe Critic

12. Fruit Leather

  • Time Commitment: 8 hours, 10 minutes
  • Why We Love It: kid-friendly, <10 ingredients, low carb

Remember fruit roll-ups? Yeah, these are like that, but made with three simple ingredients you can actually recognize. Strawberry is a crowd-pleaser, but you can try any fruit you like.

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Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

13. Edamame Hummus

  • Time Commitment: 10 minutes
  • Why We Love It: no cook, ready in <15 minutes, low sugar, low carb

We consider edamame the queen of the lunchtime snack kingdom, since it’s bursting with protein and can be snuck into everything from salads to dips. Try this creamy hummus with a side of pita chips or pretzels for crunch.

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Photo: Nico Schinco/Styling: Erin McDowell

14. Cocoa Peanut Butter Granola

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour, 40 minutes
  • Why We Love It: low sugar, <500 calories, <10 ingredients

Well, this certainly beats raiding the cereal selection at the office when that 3:30 p.m. feeling rolls around. FYI, a batch of this protein-rich granola will keep in an airtight container for up to a month, so go ahead and double it.

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Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

15. Easy Cherry Almond Granola Bars

  • Time Commitment: 25 minutes
  • Why We Love It: make ahead, <10 ingredients, ready in <30 minutes

The last time we accidentally peeked at the nutrition label on our go-to store-bought bar, we screamed internally. We’ll admit these homemade bars aren’t the equivalent of eating a salad, but we like knowing what’s inside them (and having the freedom to add any mix-in we please).

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Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

16. Mini Yogurt Cheesecakes

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour, 30 minutes
  • Why We Love It: make ahead, beginner-friendly, <500 calories

They’re made with Greek yogurt (aka breakfast food) and can be eaten in two or three bites, so yeah, we’re calling these cuties a healthy snack. Stash them in the freezer and pack them while they’re still cold, so they’ll thaw by lunch.

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Emily Morgan

17. Easy Homemade Hummus With Za’atar Pita Chips

  • Time Commitment: 15 minutes
  • Why We Love It: make ahead, beginner-friendly, ready in <30 minutes

Sure, you could spend $10 on a tub of hummus and a bag of pita chips at the grocery store. Or you could make this version, which is even more irresistible. Adding za’atar to the chips is an easy way to take the flavor up a notch.

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What’s Gaby Cooking

18. Homemade Tortilla Chips

  • Time Commitment: 15 minutes
  • Why We Love It: <10 ingredients, ready in <30 minutes, gluten free, dairy free

Remember that watermelon salsa you’re making? You’ll need something to dip in it…these golden brown, perfectly seasoned chips are just the thing.

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Cookie and Kate

19. Crispy Baked Tostones

  • Time Commitment: 45 minutes
  • Why We Love It: vegetarian, <10 ingredients, <500 calories

Tostones are green plantains that get smashed and double-fried. This version bakes them for an easier (but no less craveable) take on the Caribbean treat.

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Erin McDowell

20. Easy Homemade Potato Chips

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour
  • Why We Love It: <10 ingredients, low sugar, beginner-friendly, kid-friendly

We know we said no potato chips, but we couldn’t resist. These are homemade and so much better than the bagged kind. Your kids are gonna go wild.

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