Find all of the best kid-friendly (and parent-approved) pasta lunch ideas for home—or to pack and send to daycare, preschool, or elementary school. These are all easy, delicious, and ready in about 20 minutes.
Pasta Lunch Ideas
I am a big fan of easy lunch ideas that helps us feed the family without much work—and ideas that the kids usually like. Which means, on a lot of days, pasta is the answer! You can make these kids lunches for home or to pack in a thermos or lunchbox to send to childcare or school.
They’re very versatile with any type of pasta you prefer and I bet you’ll even enjoy most of them, too.
Pasta Salad with Chicken
This super easy and healthy Pasta Salad contains about an equal amount of pasta and other mix-ins for maximum flavor, texture, and nutrition in each bowl. Bonus: This family dinner is easy to customize and make-ahead.
This works well anytime of the year, but the flavors are particularly great in summer
Pesto Pasta Salad
Made with just a few simple ingredients, this fresh and flavorful Pesto Pasta Salad is a quick and easy family meal you’ll be able to pull together even on those nights you don’t really feel like cooking. Bonus: It stores really well in the fridge for easy future meals, too.
Mac and Cheese Cups
Learn how to make quick Mac and Cheese Bites (with veggies!) for an easy kids lunch or dinner. These mac and cheese cups are so fun, and they’re a nutritious kids meal that can easily double as an appetizer to share with adults.
Learn how to make quick and easy Mac and Cheese Bites for an easy kids lunch or dinner. These bites are fun and a nutritious kids meal that can easily double as an appetizer! You can even add in veggies like broccoli for the most delicious mac and cheese cups.
Mac and Cheese with Peas
This easy recipe is one of our very favorite shortcut toddler meals. It comes together quickly, you’re not actually making anything from scratch, and it’s a complete and satisfying meal. Hip, hip, hooray!
With an easy method and a yummy, satisfying result, this quick toddler meal is one of our go-to shortcut kids meals.
Sweet Potato Mac and Cheese
This Sweet Potato Mac and Cheese requires just 5 simple ingredients, zero prep work, and is just the yummiest pasta recipe!
I like to use a small shape to keep this dish as fast as possible.
Cauliflower Mac and Cheese
With a simple cheese sauce—no standing and stirring over the stove here!—a solid dose of veggies, and a super creamy final result, this healthy Cauliflower Mac and Cheese is a fast weeknight lunch or dinner option for toddlers. (And the rest of the family too!)
Use yellow or white cheese according to your child’s color expectations!
With a creamy, veggie-packed sauce, this easy Avocado Pasta is packed with kid-friendly flavor and nutrients. And the whole recipe can be made in about 10 minutes of cooking time!
Any pasta shape works in this recipe, so choose your family’s favorite! Omit the garlic if you think the flavor might be too strong for your people. My kids prefer this without the garlic. I like it with it for myself!
Broccoli Pesto Pasta
Serve up a dose of nutritious broccoli with this easy (and cheesy!) Broccoli Pesto. It has a bright flavor from the inclusion of fresh lemon, requires no cooking (other than preparing the pasta) and is a perfect sauce for both pasta and pizza.
This will likely make enough for two meals. You can freeze the leftovers for a future meal. (This recipe was updated to improve the taste and method in April 2019.)
Serve up a filling, yummy lunch with this easy pasta. It includes a tomato based sauce with extra veggies and beans blended in for an iron-rich meal perfect for lunch or dinner. Plus: The sauce freezes so well so you can have a stash of future meals ready and waiting!
Adding beans and extra veggies helps make this easy baby pasta satisfying, nutritious, and yummy. Serve it more or less saucy as you like. (You can even freeze the sauce for easy future meals.)
Stir Fry Noodles
For many kids, noodles and pasta are a favorite dinner option. This quick Stir Fry Noodles with Veggies family dinner plays off of that familiar starting point and introduces potentially new flavors in a safe way. Dinner time win!
Try this quick family dinner the next time you’re craving healthy comfort food—and want to please the entire family! You can add a protein to this dish if you’d like. See the Notes for options.
One-Pot Broccoli Mac and Cheese
With a super easy method that only requires one pot, you can have this easy Broccoli Mac and Cheese ready for family dinner—or a kids meal. It cooks in about 20 minutes and has a solid dose of nutrients and deliciousness.
The method on this recipe is streamlined to cut down on dish washing. Add the optional spices for more flavor if you like! Double it to make more.
Learn how to turn fresh zucchini into a bright and fresh pasta sauce with a simple method. This easy meal takes less than 30 minutes and the sauce can be made ahead and stored in the fridge or freezer for future meals.
Learn how to turn fresh zucchini into a bright and fresh pasta sauce with a simple method. Add the optional toppings for extra flavor as you and your family like. (Heads up: You’ll want to reserve a little of the pasta cooking water before you drain the pot.)
This is my favorite option when I want lot of flavor, but don’t want to cook from scratch. See below for the full information. You’ll start with a jar or can of sauce, then blend in some white beans and add your pasta. Nutritious and delicious!
Frequently Asked Questions
Pasta is an easy source of carbohydrates and you can choose from all types including semolina, whole wheat, bean-based pastas, and more. It’s a favorite lunch because it’s so versatile.
You can add simple sides of fruit, raw veggies, a smoothie, or diced chicken or beans.
Best Tips for Success
- Cook the pasta for the timing indicated on the package for the best results.
- Season the pasta cooking water with salt before adding the pasta.
- Start with a smaller portion to reduce potential food waste and allow more according to your child’s unique hunger.
- Store leftover pasta in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
- Use any of these as a hot lunch idea packed in a thermos.
I’d love to hear your feedback on this post, so please comment below to share!
Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain.
Meanwhile, add the beans to a colander to drain. Rinse with cold water. Add ½ cup to a blender with the marinara sauce. Blend smooth.
Stir as much sauce as you like into the pasta and serve warm topped with Parmesan, if desired.
Make just the sauce and freeze portions using an ice cube tray. Thaw 1-2 overnight in the fridge and add to a smaller amount of pasta for one serving.
Use a 14-ounce can of tomato sauce and ¼ cup beans as desired.
Pack in a thermos as a hot lunch.
See the rest of the post for additional pasta ideas.
Calories: 291kcal, Carbohydrates: 58g, Protein: 12g, Fat: 1g, Saturated Fat: 0.2g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 0.2g, Sodium: 476mg, Potassium: 646mg, Fiber: 6g, Sugar: 5g, Vitamin A: 430IU, Vitamin C: 7mg, Calcium: 62mg, Iron: 3mg