10 Three-Ingredient Lunches for Kids and Adults

3 ingredient lunches for kids and adults

With the back-to-school season closing in, my thoughts always turn to packing lunch. But this year is different, since many of our kids (mine included) will be learning from the comfort of the kitchen table, not the classroom. That means more meals at home, without the convenience of school cafeterias.

It’s with that in mind that I am sharing simple solutions to school and workday lunches. Here are 10 three-ingredient lunches for kids and adults. The portions can be scaled up or down depending on age and appetite. These are all main dish items that can be rounded out with fruit and veggie sides. Every mini recipe can be knocked out in a few minutes and is simple enough for kids to tackle them on their own. Little ones can pitch in, bigger kids can manage the whole job, start to finish (and perhaps even make lunch for mom or dad). Consider it a vital part of their education.

Caprese Sandwiches

1 sandwich-sized length baguette
Several slices fresh Mozzarella
A few slices ripe tomato

Split the baguette in half lengthwise. Lay the Mozzarella on the bottom half and toast both halves in a toaster oven until the cheese softens and the bread browns lightly. Lay the tomato slices and a generous pinch of salt over the cheese. Cover with the top of the baguette. 

Add ons: chopped basil, a swipe of pesto, a dribble of balsamic vinegar, a drizzle of olive oil, a slice of prosciutto  

Easy Ramen Noodle Soup

1 package ramen (read the label to find a brand free of chemicals and artificial ingredients)
⅓ cup cooked edamame or diced baked tofu
Handful baby spinach or any leftover cooked vegetables

Make the ramen according to package directions. Stir in edamame/baked tofu and spinach. Serve warm. 

Add ons: hot sauce, thinly sliced scallions, sesame seeds, a halved soft-cooked egg

Pita Pizza

1 whole-grain pita bread
2 tbsp. marinara sauce
¼ cup shredded Mozzarella

Spread unsplit pita with marinara sauce and scatter with Mozzarella. Bake in a 450 degree F oven or toaster oven until crispy, 7- 8 minutes. Cut into wedges. 

Add-ons: olives, arugula, broccoli, cherry tomatoes, basil, or any other pizza toppings

Nut Butter and Berry Sandwiches

2 slices whole-grain bread
2 tbsp. peanut, nut, or seed butter
Enough raspberries or sliced strawberries to cover 1 slice of bread. 

Spread nut butter over both slices of bread. Lay berries in a single layer on one slice. Cover with second slice of bread. Serve as is or pop into a greased waffle iron to get it warm and crispy.

Add ons: a drizzle of honey, hemp seeds, sesame seeds, cacao nibs

Turkey Wrap

1 whole-grain flour tortilla
2 tbsp. hummus
2 slices turkey

Spread tortilla with hummus. Lay on turkey slices and roll up. Cut in half.

Add ons: shredded carrots, chopped olives, cucumber slices, bell pepper slices, baby spinach 

Black Bean Soup

One 15-oz can black beans
4 oz. pico de gallo or other salsa
Small handful tortilla chips

Puree beans with canning liquid and salsa in a blender. Head on the stove, adding water if needed to thin the soup. Serve warm with tortilla chips for dipping.

Add-ons: top with sour cream, diced avocado, a squeeze of lime, chopped cilantro, cooked corn, hot sauce

Asian-Style Chicken Salad

1 1/2 cups Asian-style salad mix
½ cup shredded or cubed chicken
1 to 2 tablespoons rice vinegar

Put Asian salad mix and chicken into a bowl along with some of the won tons/nuts that come in the bag. Drizzle with a little of the dressing that comes with the salad mix and a splash of rice vinegar. Toss well and add more dressing/vinegar as needed. 

Add ins: chopped peanuts, chopped cashews, thinly sliced scallions

Sweet Potato Quesadillas

1 small sweet potato
2 smallish whole-grain flour tortillas
⅓ cup shredded pepper Jack cheese

Pierce the sweet potato and cook in the microwave on high or the oven at 425 F until tender. Cut in half and scoop out the tender flesh. Smash an even layer of sweet potato over one tortilla. Scatter with cheese and add a second tortilla. Get it crispy on both sides in a hot skillet (add a little olive oil or non-stick cooking spray to the pan). Cut into quarters. 

Add ons: black beans, salsa, taco sauce, or cilantro inside the quesadilla; sour cream or guacamole for dipping

Mezze Picnic Lunch

Cut up crunchy vegetables
2 tbsp. hummus
Handful whole-grain pita chips

Put any favorite dipping vegetables, such as carrots, celery, cherry tomatoes, or bell peppers on a plate. Add a dish of hummus and a pile of whole-grain pita chips. 

Add ons: pitted olives, feta cubes, walnuts, artichoke hearts, grapes 

Egg and Avocado Toast

1 slice crusty bread, such as whole-grain levain
½ ripe avocado
1 peeled hard boiled egg

Lightly toast the bread. Smash the avocado over the surface of the toast. Add a generous pinch of salt. Slice the egg and lay on top. 

Add ons: a squeeze of lemon juice, smoked salmon, black pepper, cucumber slices

For more lunch ideas, you might like

6 Tips for Packing School Lunch

12 Alternatives to a Lunch Box Sandwich

A guide on getting kids to make their own lunches

These tips on packing a healthy school lunch from Jessica Levinson


08.10.2020 at1:41 PM #

Trina Robertson

Thank you Katie. It is nice to be able to eat lunch as a family and not package meals for school. Still, I need some easy lunch ideas! Kids AND hubs can make these!

08.10.2020 at1:41 PM #


Awesome. And I agree on all fronts.

08.11.2020 at7:42 AM #


Love this post! Simple, inexpensive, not-overwhelming meal ideas for an overwhelming time in life. 🙂 Thank you.

08.11.2020 at7:42 AM #


Overwhelming is the operative word. Glad this is helpful.

08.20.2020 at8:53 AM #


Thank you SO much Katie!!! This is appreciated and very helpful!!! Good luck to your child starting college!

08.20.2020 at8:53 AM #


Thank you! Glad this is helpful.

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