Healthy Lunch Ideas For 13 Year Olds


I wanted to make a list of healthy lunch ideas for 13-year-olds as I’m sure you know that 13-year-old boys are swamped with school work, especially in today’s day and age where everything is computerized. Now, it’s no wonder they’re stressed out and they can’t get their homework done. They need lunch ideas that are good for them.

We all know that eating right really does make a difference in how we feel. Most of us have heard the saying “you are what you eat” before. That saying is so true, and everyone should take it to heart, including teenagers.

Healthy Lunch Ideas For 13 Year Olds

With the return to school just around the corner, it can be tricky for parents to know what food to pack for their children’s lunch – especially for fussy secondary school pupils.Teenagers need feeding! Their energy needs can be higher than adults due to the rapid growth and development during these years.


Try these simple and balanced lunch ideas for teens 

But teens also need nutritious food to support this growth; in particular protein, calcium and healthy fats. A packed lunch should be one that is quick to make, easy to eat and balanced – providing a range of nutrition.

If you have active teenagers they’ll need even more food, ideally of the healthier snack variety.

Some teens are keen to take the lead on prepping their own lunch, while others still see it as a job for the parents. Let’s start with ideas for the latter!

  • Sandwiches, wraps, bagels or rolls are an obvious choice – try different fillings through the week – roast chicken or cheese salad, tuna and sweetcorn, hummus and grated crated, mozzarella, tomato and basil, chicken and avocado, smoked salmon and cream cheese. Variety in our diet helps us to eat a wider range of nutrients than if we stick to the same few choices.
  • Salads can also work well and may be seen as a more ‘grown up’ option but make sure there are some carbohydrate sources to munch on e.g. breadsticks or crackers and you could include some cheese (e.g. feta, mozzarella, goat’s or cheddar depending on their preference) to up their calcium intake.
  • Warm food can also help to mix things up a little especially during the cooler months – think pasta, noodles or chili with rice.
  • Veg & fruit – teens in general don’t eat enough veg and fruit and they are so important to our overall health. Add anything they like to eat and that is quick to prepare e.g. apples, satsumas, grapes, kiwis, chopped melon, pineapple (this can be from a tin rather than fresh), cucumber, tomatoes, mini sweetcorn, carrots, edamame beans or peas still in their pods.
  • Snacks – breadsticks, granola bars, oatcakes, energy balls, hard-boiled eggs, crackers, tortilla chips, cheese chunks. Ideally prioritise these healthier options over crisps, biscuits, cakes and chocolate. While they are tasty, they don’t contain as many nutrients as those healthier types of snacks. Don’t restrict these types of food, one portion a day is considered part of a ‘balanced’ diet.

We unpack the basics behind packed lunches 

If your teen is keen to make their own lunch, keep your fridge and cupboards well stocked and have a list of easy to make options somewhere within reach.

Key items are a selection of bread, fruit, veggies including salad, contents for sandwiches or wraps, healthy snacks and less healthy snacks. Ask your teen to plan their balanced pack lunch themselves and you can shop accordingly!

Hydration is key

Dehydration can have a negative impact on concentration and energy levels. Always send your kids off with a water bottle and encourage them to avoid fizzy or energy drinks due to the high levels of sugar within them.


It happened this summer…. July 10/20 to be precise. I became the parent of not 1, but 2 teenagers. I have a 15 year old and a 13 year old. I don’t know how this happened so fast, but here we are.

collage of 4 photos of healthy school lunch ideas for teens

And although they are making their own lunches a lot of the time, lunches are still a challenge. With this in mind and the help of my fellow food bloggers, I have put together a list of 15 healthy school lunch ideas for teens. And not only are they healthy, several of these lunches are healthier versions of meals that teens love, like tacos, pizza, fried rice, Ceasar salad and sushi! They are also ready to eat (none require heating and can be eaten COLD) and many can be made ahead or take only a few minutes to put together. And the best part is they are easy – teenagers can even make them on their own!

Given the current state, heating up lunches at my kids’ schools is not an option. My kids are not only designated to certain floors, bathrooms and stairwells this year, they no longer have access to a microwave. Unfortunately for me, I’ve always relied on frozen meals (A LOT more than I’d like to admit) and other lunch ideas for teens that require reheating. And for some weird reason, my kids refuse to use a thermos these days- I guess it’s no longer “cool.”

S**t just got real!  

So… I find myself scrambling to ensure we have lots of ideas for cold lunches and trying to decide what to make for lunches that they’ll like, that are healthy, I can eat myself, don’t require reheating and won’t take a ton of time ! If you find yourself in the same boat, you’ll love these ready to eat school lunch ideas for teens.

inside of an empty lunch box

When I look back at what I ate for lunch as a teenager, that’s when I get concerned. Let’s just say I ate more fries and gravy at the cafeteria than any person should have. However, the school cafeterias and canteens probably won’t be open this year, so at least I get a bit of a reprieve on that. And fortunately, all the years we nagged our kids (aka tried to instill healthy eating habits in them) seem to be paying off. My teenagers are both pretty health conscious now and like the idea of eating healthier versions of the junkier foods they love! So without further adieu…here are a collection of delicious school lunch ideas!

Teenagers LOVE their pizza and these Healthy Pizza Dippers are not only a teenager’s dream lunch, they are a parent’s. They are quick and easy to make with 2 ingredient dough (Greek yogurt and flour) and can be made ahead, frozen, heated or eaten cold, making them the perfect lunch box meal because they are ready to eat. Younger kids can help make them and older teens can make them on their own with the easy step by step directions included in the recipe!

Check out this recipe

pizza dipper being dipped into pizza sauce with pieces, an apple, carrots and lunch bag in background.

This tasty, Copycat Chick-fil-A Chicken Salad sandwich is made in 15 minutes with frozen breaded chicken, pickle relish, celery, eggs, and mayo. What’s not to love about this iconic salad? Teens can easily make this on their own!

These Muffin Tin Sushi Cups are super easy to make, so adorable and full of healthy goodness! Naturally vegan and gluten-free.

Muffin tin sushi cups on blue platter

These Taco Salad Meal Prep Taco Bowls are made with healthy ground turkey and filled with black beans, sweet corn, shredded cheese, crisp lettuce, and all your favorite toppings. Enjoy these delicious Taco Bowls for dinner and repurpose the leftovers into perfectly portioned make-ahead meal prep lunches.

This Italian Chicken Salad is fresh, easy, and bursting with flavor. It takes 10 minutes to make and your teen can make it on their own! Loaded with mozzarella cheese, tomatoes, black olives and pesto, this fun twist on a classic flavor will have you coming back for more. This salad is perfect for an easy lunch or dinner and makes delicious sandwiches, too!

open Italian chicken salad sandwich

Who doesn’t love fried rice?! I know my teenagers are fried rice crazy – my 15 year old always wants to make it. And it doesn’t get better than healthy fried rice salad! This lunchbox fried rice salad takes the boring out of your lunchbox! Best served cold.

lunchbox fried rice salad in bento box in front with more fried rice salad in background

This Turkey Bacon Ranch Wrap will take you 5 minutes to throw together. Make it with leftover turkey or deli meat. Either way, this tortilla wrap recipe makes a great lunch box meal for kids and adults alike. Teens can easily make this on their own, as this recipe uses pre-cooked bacon (heated in microwave)!

Quick Turkey club ranch wrap |tortilla sandwich wrap -

Pasta de Bocaditos {Cuban Deviled Ham Sandwiches} are little bites of deliciousness. Filled with ham, cream cheese and roasted red peppers. You won’t be able to stop at one!

cuban deviled ham sandwiches on black plate with more sandwiches in background

This Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad is a simple dish that’s ready in less than 30 minutes. Romaine lettuce, fresh pasta, chicken, and Parmesan cheese are tossed in a creamy caesar dressing that’s full of flavor. Light, yet filling, this easy dish makes a delicious weeknight meal with leftovers for lunch the next day. I know my teens would go crazy for this as leftovers for lunch!

chicken caesar pasta salad in white bowl

My kids may be teenagers, but I’m pretty sure they’d take the crustless sandwich over the one with crust. That’s why these Homemade uncrustables are perfect for a teen’s lunch box. They are a quick, freezable, kid-friendly option for easy school lunches! You control the ingredients, and they are healthier and generally come out cheaper than their store-bought counterparts.

No matter how old kids are, they still love lunchables! Homemade lunchables are a popular trend all kids love! These are made with store-bought phyllo cups and can be filled with any savory or sweet filling including leftovers making them fun and delicious!

Who doesn’t love a good Reuben sandwich, especially when it’s healthy! I know my teens do. A simple and easy light Reuben wrap sandwich recipe made with sliced deli roast beef, baby Swiss cheese, red cabbage, homemade thousand island dressing rolled up in a high fiber wrap. This protein-packed recipe is perfect for lunch meal prep!

lighter reuben wrap - ingredients on tortilla

This bento box idea is a quick and easy cold meal of Ukrainian sausage (kubasa/kielbasa), cubed cheddar cheese, sliced dill pickles, rye bread, crackers, mustard and baby carrots. It’s just like the late night snack you’d have at a prairie “social”!

ukrainian 'social meal' in bento box

Chinese chicken salad goes plant-based with this delicious vegan recipe. This pasta salad is packed with mini sweet peppers, mandarins, green onions, spinach and carrots, then tossed with a sesame ginger dressing and topped with Chow Mein noodles for added crunch!

Chinese Mandarin Pasta Salad in bento box

Ham Roll Ups will be your favorite back to school lunch solution! Super quick and easy to make, these tasty ranch ham and cream cheese roll ups are totally teen-approved

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