This method of serving lunch is a favorite for quick and easy lunches with endless variations! Here are more than 50 of our regular additions to a lunch tray, along with a printable reference sheet to help you with ideas when you’re putting together your trays.
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Now that we are home most days for lunches during the week, we are back to our regular reliance on lunch trays for quick and easy lunches. I have been putting together trays with all kinds of food for lunches for years. I have found it to be one of the simplest ways to give us all variety at lunchtime, stretch ingredients, and serve lunch in a way that is both fun and easy.
Using this method for lunch trays can be especially great for homeschooling families! Our daily rhythm always includes a break for the kids before lunch (usually outdoors), and a break for me from the noise. I use this time to prep anything that needs to be cooked/blended/mixed, and then once the tray is assembled, I call everyone back and we eat together and continue with our lessons.
There are really no rules when it comes to making lunch trays, but I will share a few “tips” and recommendations that I have found helpful over the years.
In addition to that, I put together a list of over fifty items that make a regular appearance on our lunch trays. Many of these things are staples in our kitchen, so it’s easy to keep them on hand for simple lunches. You can also find a free printable reference sheet with all the ideas together to make it easier to fill in any gaps when you’re putting together a tray, or thinking of what the “main” component of your tray could be.
50+ Easy Lunch Tray Ideas
I tend to think of our lunch trays in two categories– either there is a central main component, or the tray is more of a charcuterie style situation.
I try to include something from each of the groupings below– a main item or several charcuterie items, a munchable, fruit and veg, likely something for dipping or spreading, and often, a small treat. Again, though, there are no rules. It just depends on what we have on hand.
For the tray itself, I have three trays that I use most often. Each are from IKEA, but I’ve linked some similar ones below with the recommendations. Occasionally I use a long wooden serving board instead of a tray, but its the same concept.
Having various sizes of bowls is also very helpful in containing wet items, as well as keeping items grouped together. I like to use larger bowls for the main dishes, and smaller ramekins for other components. We are also big fans of investing in local pottery, so that often shows up in our lunch trays too.
- Acacia Wooden Serving Tray
- 12″ Round Metal Serving Tray
- Set of 6 4″ ramekins (also useful in the Instant Pot)
- Small colorful serving bowls
As for actually serving the lunch trays, I don’t really micromanage the kids’ choices. The general rule is simply that everyone should choose a little of each category. Sometimes we eat from the tray, sometimes we use plates, and other times a paper towel is sufficient.
My hope is that these ideas will help you to simplify lunches, and that you will be able to take these ideas and make them your own!
- salad bar
- muffins (nutty blueberry, carrot raisin, raisin date walnut, chocolate zucchini, banana nut)
- tuna salad
- Sheetpan Nachos
- Homemade Pigs In A Blanket
- Garlic Orzo w/ Bacon and Greens
- biscuits with jam/honey/egg (I like to make these smaller than normal, about 3″ biscuits, so we can have multiple biscuits with different combos)
- caesar salad
- Fruity Couscous (recipe in my cookbook)
- Healthy Homemade Banana Bread
- Quick & Easy Chicken Salad
- deli meat
- summer sausage
- chicken nuggets
- cheddar cheese
- goat cheese
- pimento cheese
- peanuts, almonds, pistachios, etc
DIPS & SPREADS ::
- veggie straws
- tortilla chips
- sourdough slices/toast
- multi-grain crackers
- rice cakes
- cheese crackers
- graham crackers
FRUIT & VEG ::
- carrot sticks
- pepper slices
- green smoothies
- coleslaw (rainbow or easy coleslaw hack)
- apple slices
- orange wedges
- yogurt pretzels
- gummy bears
- wafers & cookies
- chocolate peanuts
- canned peaches
PRINT A COPY OF THE LUNCH TRAY REFERENCE SHEET.
MORE LIKE THIS ::
If you use this reference sheet or ideas to build your own lunch trays, I’d love to see them! Be sure to tag me, @thispilgrimlife on Instagram! Feel free to add more lunch tray inspiration and tips in the comments too!
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This is also great to have ideas for packing school lunches!
Found your blog last fall and really enjoy your content and ideas. They help refresh my ideas, give me totally new ones and remind me that all moms are “winging it” to some degree. 🙂 But your blog, along with others and my church family, are re-wiring a childhood (and some adulthood) that was not good. So thank you for living what you’ve been called to do and sharing along the way!