As our kids get older we sometimes let the focus on healthy lunches slip. Here are some healthy lunch ideas for teens and high school students.
I have noticed that as my kids get older their palates have expanded and they are open to new things, but their daily intake of healthy foods seemed to have slipped a bit – especially when it comes to lunches. Have you struggled with this in your house?
I think this can be due to a number of reasons. Sometimes it is because our kids start to push back more, sometimes it is because we leave it to them to figure it out, sometimes it is because we just lose the momentum. But those healthy lunches continue to be important for energy, focus, keeping those dynamic moods steady, as well as for health outcomes such as reducing obesity and limiting fat intake.
So we wanted to share some of our favorite healthy lunch ideas for teens (or kids of any age). Pair any of these with a piece of fruit, yogurt and/or a cheese stick, and water in a reusable bottle and they’ll be good to go!
Formula for a Healthy Lunch
Here at The Scramble we like to say that there is a simple formula for a healthy lunch:
1 main dish + 1 vegetable + 1 fruit + 1 extra + 1 bottle of water = a healthy lunch
Whether you use this formula as you pack their lunches or they use it as they pack their own, having this expectation established can be really helpful.
In my experience, having the right lunch-packing gear can make packing healthy lunches easier (the separate compartments in bento boxes, for example, remind everyone to pack fruits and vegetables). But as our kids get bigger, so do their appetites and I have noticed that some of our go-to lunch-packing equipment from when they were younger is now too small. Here’s what we use in our house these days:
Easy Lunchboxes (affiliate): These have been a favorite in my house since my kids were small. They are easy to open and close, super sturdy (I’ve have mine for years) and are big enough to grow with your kids.
Packit Containers (affiliate): These work better for older kids because they are a little tougher to open and close, but they offer more variety and flexibility, which my bigger kids really love. I also love their freezable lunch bags for keeping things cold.
Lunchskins reusable bags (affiliate): We use these bags daily for snacks and to add more components to a lunch that seems a little light.
Healthy Lunch Ideas for Teens
1. Sliced turkey or ham, red bell pepper strips, and Cheddar cheese wrapped in a whole wheat tortilla, with mayonnaise, spicy mustard or salsa.
2. Tuna, chicken, or egg salad with whole grain crackers or pita chips or on a bagel with lettuce.
3. Low fat yogurt or cottage cheese with fresh fruit and granola or other cereal (keep them separate and let your student combine them at lunch).
4. Whole grain bagel or rice cakes with natural peanut butter for extra protein.
5. “Snack platters” with whole grain crackers or bread, cheeses and/or deli meats, olives, pickles, veggie sticks, and anything else you want throw in.
7. Diced turkey or chicken sausage (look for nitrite-free brands) with ketchup or mustard for dipping.
8. Tossed salad with crunchy lettuce, diced cucumbers, grape tomatoes, sunflower seeds, and your student’s favorite salad dressing on the side.
9. Cooked oatmeal in a thermos with brown sugar, walnuts, and berries on the side.
10. Sandwiches or wraps (whole grain) filled with hummus and cucumbers or cream cheese and veggies.
11. Cheddar or Muenster cheese and sliced tomato sandwich (put the tomato between the slices of cheese so the bread doesn’t get soggy) with a little mayonnaise or mustard.
12. Black beans and rice or other rice salad.
13. Fresh mozzarella, basil or pesto, and tomato on a soft baguette or in a whole grain wrap.
15. Bean and cheese burritos (warm black beans & cheese on tortilla in microwave & wrap in foil).
16. Whole grain bagel with cream cheese and sliced cucumbers.
17. Caesar salad (pack dressing separately).
19. Calzones or leftover pizza.
20. Grain salads (add additional protein, if desired, such as diced cooked chicken, steak, or tofu)
Watch the Video
Further Inspiration for Healthy Lunch Ideas
Want more ideas for feeding your kids? Check out these other resources from The Scramble:
Like this article? Check out The Scramble’s meal plans to see just how simple feeding your family can be!
Please share your ideas by leaving a comment below.