Need lunch ideas for your older kids? Here are 50 + lunch ideas for teens plus tips on how to make it happen all year long.
It’s that time of year again! Back to school. And back to packing lunches.
If you are looking for lunch ideas for your teen or tween, I’ve got you covered! I created a downloadable guide with 50+ lunch ideas to get your kids excited for lunch. You can find recipes for many of the suggestions on this site, including:
- Instant Pot Chicken Tortilla Soup
- Turkey Meatballs
- Pasta Bolognese
- Lentil and Roasted Vegetable Salad
- Slow Cooker Vegetarian Chili
- Curried Chicken Salad
- Energy Bars – store-bought
- Energy Bars – homemade: Raspberry Almond Power Bites, Chewy, No-Bake Granola Bars
Print out the guide and post it on your refrigerator or inside your pantry door. Or, simply use it for inspiration and then have your kids create their own, personalized guides. But be sure to post it somewhere visible. We all know how easy it is to get inspired…and then somehow when it comes time to plan lunches all we can think of is a turkey sandwich!
Get Your Kids Involved
The key to making a variety of tasty lunches all year (and not burning out after a week)? Get your kids involved! Kids of all ages can help in the kitchen, but once your child hits the tween and teen years, they can generally do most, if not all, of it themselves.
Of course, they will need help from you with the shopping and a little assistance, or at least guidance, with prepping or cooking.
- Teens: PLAN & PACK weekly lunches
- Parents/Caregivers: SHOP for lunches & ASSIST with prep as needed
My Child Would Rather Buy Lunch
If your child has no interest in helping, explain that you are counting on them to help you out. Tell them that knowing how to make and pack lunch is a life skill that is also handy to know for picnics, ski trips, and beach outings!
If they haven’t done much in the kitchen before, keep the lunch choices simple and help with the prep until they get the routine down. While I have some more involved lunch ideas on the list, there is nothing wrong with bringing a simple sandwich.
Purchasing school lunch is another option. It can be a great way to mix it up or take a day or two off from packing lunch. Many teens prefer to buy lunch every day. Ultimately, every family has to do what works best for them.
If your child is an athlete, they may be motivated to pack a lunch that will help them perform their best. Even non-athletes should know that eating a well-balanced lunch can help them feel their best and give them the energy they need for school, work, or other activities.
Tips for Lunch Packing Success
- Create a weekly lunch plan.
- Keep it simple and realistic.
- Batch cook on Sundays.
- Prep raw fruits and veggies ahead of time.
- Organize lunch items so they are easy to find.
- Keep containers and reusable bags on hand for easy, eco-friendly packing.
- Night owls: (most teens!) Pack lunches the night before to reduce morning stress.
- Remember that it’s ok to step in and make the whole lunch for your child now and then. Perhaps they are stressed or super busy. Or maybe you give them a break from packing every Friday. Either way, nothing says I love you like a homemade lunch!
50+ Lunch Ideas for Teens – Printable Guide
Additional Lunch Inspiration
Here are links to my other lunchbox packing posts.
PS – These teen lunch ideas would all make great adult lunches too! 😉