Does your teen come home ravenous even though you give him money to eat lunch at the school cafeteria?
There are several reasons why teens are not eating healthy, nutritious meals at school.
Most cafeteria lunches are refined, low-fiber, sugary, or fatty foods and lack protein and complex carbohydrates (like whole grains) that satisfy hunger and sustain energy over a longer time.
In addition to this, teens would rather spend their lunchtime socializing than eating. This means that a problematic meal that needs a knife and fork is out of the question.
School lunches need to be easy to eat. It either needs to be something that they can eat with their hands (like a sandwich or wrap), smaller snacking items that they can eat quickly and easily (like cucumber and hummus), or a meal that’s easy to eat with a fork (like pasta or salad).
These easy school lunches allow them to walk and talk and not have to sit down and eat with a knife and fork.
The bottom line is it should be quick and easy for them to eat with no mess or fuss. Now it’s our challenge to find lunch ideas that meet their criteria while ensuring that it’s tasty and nutritious at the same time.
I’ve selected several school lunch ideas for teens that are tasty, healthy, and easy to eat. Discuss these options with your teen and find a few staples that you know will give them the nutrition they need and won’t come back uneaten in their lunchbox.
Is your teen stuck in a school lunch rut? Are they always packing the same boring sandwich and chips or, worse, buying the crummy food in the school cafeteria that always seems to leave their tastebuds less than satisfied?
Well, we’re here to change that! We rounded up 33 easy lunch ideas for teens that they’ll actually like and look forward to! From mile-high club sandwiches they won’t be able to resist to easy desserts that will have their friends begging for a taste, we’ve come up with the best-of-the-best school lunch ideas for teens that are anything but boring.
Easy School Lunch Ideas for Teens
California Turkey Club Wrap
Is there anything more satisfying than a delicious wrap packed with turkey, cheese, bacon (of course), and veggies? This California Turkey Club Wrap is easy to make and it always hits the spot with teens!
Broccoli Cheese Bites
If you’re on the hunt for a healthy lunch snack that your kids will actually eat, these Broccoli Cheese Bites are super simple to make and they’re made with ingredients you likely have on hand. With 166k shares on Pinterest, this is one recipe you have to try!
Italian Sub Sandwich
I don’t know about your kids, but mine are suckers for sub sandwiches. This Italian Sub Sandwich is stuffed with ham, salami, pepperoni, cheese, tomatoes, and crisp lettuce – all snuggled in a delicious roll. Drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil and a dab of pesto and they won’t be able to resist.
4-Ingredient No-Bake Peanut Butter Granola Cups
This amazing No-Bake Peanut Butter Granola Cup recipe has 1 MILLION shares on Pinterest! They’re seriously scrumptious and teen-friendly. Plus, they’re actually healthy!
Caprese Pasta Salad
Most of the time, salads don’t hold up well in our kids’ lunches, but this Caprese salad holds up beautifully. Paired with garlic toast, crackers or a roll and this will be one lunch they’ll actually look forward to. Plus, it’s healthy!
Pepperoni Pizza Quesadilla
Skip the crummy pizza in the cafeteria and whip up this easy Pepperoni Pizza Quesadilla instead. And, don’t worry about serving it up cold in your kid’s lunch. Teens never seem to mind cold pizza!
Fruit & Yogurt Parfait
This Fresh Fruit and Yogurt Parfait tastes better than any store-bought version. Pack in a small thermos and it will stay cold and delicious until lunchtime.
Garlic Cheese Flatbread
These little yummy bites are supposed to be served warm, but honestly, they taste just as good at room temperature making them a great lunchbox snack. With only a handful of ingredients, you could make these in a jiffy so your kids can enjoy them all week long.
BLT Salad Sandwich
You might have to pack the egg salad separate from the bread to prevent the bread from getting mushy, but it will be well worth it. This BLT Salad Sandwich is delish – make it with bread or just pack a handful of crackers for a delicious and healthy lunch.
4-Ingredient Dark Chocolate Pretzel Bark
Spice up your teen’s typical boring lunch with this delicious Dark Chocolate Pretzel Bark. Only four ingredients are required to whip this baby up. And, honestly, your teen might just have to hide it from all their friends at the lunch table or it will surely be gone!
Easy Thermos-Friendly Ramen Noodle Soup
For every Ramen Noodle lovin’ teen out there, this recipe is for YOU! It’s easy, healthy and it’s thermos friendly. On a cold winter day is there anything more satisfying than warm Ramen Noodle Soup?
Classic Club Sandwich
You really can’t go wrong with a delicious Classic Club Sandwich brimming with ham, bacon, turkey, tomatoes, cheese, and lettuce. It will satisfy practically any teen’s hearty appetite.
Easy Cheesy Pepperoni Pizza Sticks
These are always a hit with my kids. They only take a handful of ingredients to make (seriously, your kids can make these themselves) and they’re great for popping in lunches!
What is a good lunch for a teenager?
A good lunch should keep your teen full, focused, and energized until the end of the day. A balanced lunch should include healthy fats like cheese, hummus, nuts, or avocado. It should also have proteins like chicken, turkey/ham, hard-boiled eggs, or tuna fish; and the right kind of carbohydrates like whole grain bread, wraps, crackers, rice, and fruit.
What can I give my kids instead of sandwiches?
If your child is tired of having sandwiches in their school lunchbox, then you can replace the bread with a wrap, a burrito, bagel, or quesadillas. Alternatively, you can offer them various options like quiches, muffins, fritters, pasta, or salads. Leftovers and meal preps are great quick lunchbox ideas as well.
What is a healthy snack for teenagers?
Healthy snacks for teens include mostly whole foods that have not been processed and don’t include refined flour, added sugars, or artificial ingredients. Healthy snacks include yogurt, cheese, nuts, trail mix, fruit, hummus with pita bread, smoothies, eggs, nut butter, guacamole dip, olives, and carrot sticks.
The bottom line is that if kids eat a nutritious lunch they won’t need that many snacks between meals. However, as we know that our teens are picky eaters at best and would rather socialize than eat a proper lunch, providing healthy snacks will keep their energy up and help them get the nutrients they need.
Healthy School Lunch Ideas For Teens
Buffalo Chicken Wraps
A delicious wrap that’s bursting with flavor.
It takes no more than five minutes to make these buffalo chicken wraps.
They’ve got all the yummy flavor of buffalo wings without the added calories and fat.
The spicy buffalo sauce and excellent ranch dressing are a perfect combination, making this one of our favorite school lunch ideas for teens.
Chicken Parmesan Stuffed Shells
The Salty Marshmallow
This delicious stuffed shell pasta recipe has cheese, crispy chicken, and marinara sauce, all topped with more cheese!
These stuffed shells are easy to prepare the day before and pack into lunchboxes.
BLT sandwiches make a tasty school lunch.
When using avocado, toss the slices in a bit of lemon juice before adding to the sandwich to ensure the avocado slices remain vibrant.
The perfect combination of toasted bread, crispy bacon, thick slices of tomato and avocado, and the three-ingredient sandwich sauce will make this your favorite BLT recipe.
Meal Prep – Teriyaki Chicken
We love meal-prep lunch options as you can make quite a few portions at a time.
Take-out cravings will be satisfied without the added calories.
A sticky teriyaki glaze covers the chicken, adds the perfect combination of sweet and salty. Adding broccoli adds crunch and fiber, but chicken is also fantastic on its own!
I love these meal prep containers as they’re reusable, microwaveable, and dishwasher safe.
Cheesy Mini Potato Gratin Stacks
Your kids will love these Mini Potato Gratin Stacks because they are creamy, cheesy, and delicious.
Make a batch in a mini tray and pop these into lunchboxes as a special treat.
This highly rated mini backing tray will give you 24 potato gratin stacks to share.
Egg Roll in a Bowl
There are no fancy, expensive, hard-to-find ingredients needed for this easy recipe!
You can enjoy all of the Asian flavors without any deep-fat frying.
This easy-to-prepare dish consists of fresh vegetables and lean proteins stir-fried in a savory sauce.
Chicken Parmesan Calzone
Calzone stuffed with crispy chicken, Parmesan, and mozzarella cheese – YUM!
The most distinctive feature of this calzone is the pizza-like finish. The outside crust of this calzone has a layer of mozzarella cheese and sauce, giving it a cheesy, crunchy texture.
This is easy to prep the night before and everyone can slice off a piece and pop it into their lunchbox.
Mini Salmon Quiches
This mini salmon quiche couldn’t be easier to make. The crust is made from store-bought puff pastry, and the filling is made out of smoked salmon, cream cheese, and scallions.
You can freeze them once baked, but you probably won’t need to as they’ll be eaten fast.
Ultimate Tuna Melt
The Recipe Critic
This tuna salad mixture is full of SO much flavor and textured layers.
The golden crust, soft tuna mixture, and crunchy onions and tomatoes are a fantastic combination!
Cauliflower Fried Rice & Crispy Tofu
Pinch Of Yum
Combine garlic, ginger, tofu, hard-boiled eggs, soy sauce, sesame oil, and cauliflower “rice” to make this lunch low carb and super nutritious.
These glass meal prep containers are great for storage and lunches. They’re BPA-free with a leak-proof lid to keep their school bags neat and clean from any lunch spills.
Ham & Cheddar Lunch Box Muffins
Ham and cheese go together beautifully in these savory muffins with a hint of cornmeal for structure and texture.
These are loaded with chunks of ham, cheddar cheese, and chives. A muffin is about as filling as a basic sandwich.
Tender Chicken Fritters
Flavorful, tender, and juicy, these fritters are a delight to eat. These chicken patties are the perfect easy chicken recipe!
You might want to leave the garlic aioli sauce out of their lunch boxes, but it does go very well with these chicken patties, as well as fries, and veggies and also tastes great on sandwiches and burgers.
You can make a batch and let everyone put a few in their lunchbox the next day.
Easy Enchilada Cups
Combine rotisserie chicken, black beans, corn, chopped green chiles, and canned enchilada sauce to make the enchilada filling.
You can use chicken, steak, fish, or shrimp, or add some cooked vegetables for a different variation!
So easy to prep the day before to make lunchboxes tasty and easy to eat.
Taco Salad Meal Prep
Meal prepping this delicious Turkey Taco Salad for lunches during the week is a breeze!
Keeping the greens separate will make it easy to reheat the turkey without heating up the whole thing.
Make sure to store them in the fridge so you can grab one on your way out in the morning!
Caesar Salad Wonton Cups
This recipe has the advantage of allowing you to prepare all components in advance, which is especially useful because the wonton cups stay crispy for days in an airtight container.
To prevent the salad from falling apart when you bite into it, you should use a thick dressing.
This quick and easy salad makes a great lunch on the go.
Hawaiian Pineapple & Spam Tacos
Spam has a rich and almost creamy texture. The rich taste of this meat can be overpowering in large portions; however, it can be balanced by cooking small strips and serving it along with acidic, sweet, and spicy flavors.
Bacon-Wrapped Chicken Bites
There are only a few ingredients needed for this recipe – brown sugar, bacon, and chicken.
This recipe has good flavor, showcasing the sweetness from the brown sugar, saltiness from the bacon, and some freshly cracked pepper generously sprinkled on top.
Spinach Ricotta Quiche
You can easily prepare this vegetarian quiche with simple ingredients like spinach, ricotta cheese, eggs, tomatoes, and basil.
A tasty, filling, and easy-to-eat school lunch for teens.
Chicken Tacos with Pineapple Salsa
A flavorful marinade of savory spices and herbs complements the healthy lean white meat.
To make any taco more interesting, add some refreshing toppings like this sweet pineapple salsa.
These chicken tacos are easy to wrap and eat at school.
Tuscan Chicken Pinwheels
This delicious, easy-to-make chicken roll-up combines Italian flavors with a creamy chicken filling.
Add some extra veggies to their lunch box to make a complete meal.
They contain a lot of protein, which makes you feel full longer.
Best Chicken Salad
Together, the crunchy grapes and richness of the mayo go very well with the chicken. At the same time, celery and pecans give it a nice crunch.
It’s hard not to love this Chicken Salad. It’s so easy to prepare and yet so elegant.
The wrap is also very versatile. You can serve it on a croissant, rye bread, or even in a lettuce bowl.