Healthy lunch ideas for high school students can be somewhat tough. What if you’ve tried the classic PB&J, pre-packaged salads or a sandwich-and-soda combo? Sure, they have their place in the meal rotation, but they may get boring during the course of the week. How can you spice things up a bit without sacrificing taste? In high school, we’re often judged on what we wear and how cool our hair is. And at home, it’s even worse. As parents start thinking about what their kids will eat for lunch, here are healthy lunch ideas for high school students that are not only easy to make but student friendly:
Healthy Lunch Ideas For High School
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 some 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.
Teenage Lunchbox Ideas
Perhaps, you’re probably already thinking “what do I do if they think packing a lunchbox is dorky?”, “what if they want to pack it themselves?”, “how much should I pack?“, and of course, “what do I pack so they are not starving when they get home after school?“.
No worries, you aren’t the first to come across these questions or situations. So let’s start with these tips which I’ve pulled together in a video for you. Then, you can read on, for more!More Mature Lunchboxes
When it comes to packing lunches for teens, it’s not as easy as it used to be. They no longer want to pack their food in the best kid’s lunch container. Now, it’s not cool at all!
While packed lunches usually include more of a healthy variety some kids find that carrying a lunchbox just isn’t… cool. In this case, it’s important to find a durable container, that will pack enough food, and will easily fit into a gym bag or school bag.
Here are a few more “grown-up” options for teens and tweens:
- Swap the character thermos for this Minimal Food Jar
- Turn in the cutesy lunchboxes for the Packit Cooler Lunch Box
- Say goodbye to boring tupperware and try these sophisticated glass containers
Packing Their Own Lunches
If your teen wants to pack their own lunch – LET THEM! You’ve been waiting for this moment for years, and now the time has come, embrace it.
Of course, you will want to make sure the fridge and pantry are stocked with healthy options like fresh fruit, veggies, hummus, whole grain crackers, sandwich/wrap ingredients. Otherwise, left to their own devices teens will pack chips, cookies, and 5 packs of string cheese.
If you’re looking for ways to help your teen establish healthy eating patterns that will last a lifetime, check out my Family KickStart Program. Many parents are using it to make healthier breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks that teens, parents, and younger kids can enjoy together.
And, using the program you’ll know that the lunches the teens are packing themselves are filled with nutritious ingredients and something you’ll be glad they’re eating at school.
Filling Foods for Teenage Lunches
Finding foods that won’t leave your teen feeling like they’re “starving” by the end of the day is a major concern for parents. However, it’s as simple as providing a balanced lunch, with healthy fats like cheese, hummus, nuts, and peanut butter (or no-nut butter). Including proteins like deli turkey/ham, hard-boiled eggs, tuna fish; and the right kind of carbohydrates; whole-grain bread, wraps, crackers, rice, and fruit.
If your teen stays late at school, it’s best to pack an additional healthy snack or two, too.
Packing Healthy Treats
Remember when your teen was little and you packed cute lunches for them? After school, you’d open the lunchbox and see that some things were left, but the treat was always devoured.
When they’re teenagers, they’ll still want to eat a treat; and while it’s convenient to pack a packaged item, it’s best to keep dessert full of nutrition with fruit, nuts, energy bites, or maybe a homemade parfait.
More healthy Lunchbox desserts here.
What to Pack for Teens for Lunch
If you just don’t know what to pack because a single ham sandwich doesn’t cut it, check out the recipes below. There’s a reason that these are some of the most popular recipes on this site! You can also use my book, 101 Packed Lunches to find even more lunchbox inspiration.
Healthy School Lunch Recipe Ideas for Teens:
These healthy lunches for school are always huge hits with the teens. Or, as “always” as anything can be with teens. This list will give you a good variety to start with from things my own teens and teenage exchange students have enjoyed.
Nobody wants to be seen with a PB&J anymore (or so I’m told), so give them an “adult lunch” upgrade with one of these ideas. I’ll give you a list and recipes below, but for those of you who prefer the visual, you can watch how I pack my teen’s lunches here and grab the recipes below.
Now, on to the recipes!
Philly Grilled Cheese
Leftover steak strips or deli roast beef are perfect for making these hearty grilled cheese sandwiches.
It’s like a grilled cheese “but cooler” & more filling!
Greek Chicken Flatbread
Change up the usual sandwich with this fun and yummy wrap! Pack it with hummus and veggies for dipping.
5 Healthy Lunch Ideas with Chicken Salad
Chicken salad is a great way to stretch out leftover roasted/cooked chicken in multiple ways. Make a large batch, use some for these wraps and serve the leftover with a salad or crackers for lunches, later in the week.
These vegetarian-inspired wraps are an awesome source of protein and healthy fats from the hummus, and also perfect on days when you realize you’ve already run out of deli cuts, which happens if you’re feeding teenagers. Add in a few handfuls of Banana Chips for your teen to snack on between meals.
Cobb Salad Wraps
This wrap is packed with protein from the chopped eggs and turkey. It’s so simple to make and of course, you could omit the turkey since these are hearty enough with the hard-boiled eggs. For the teenager who is still a child at heart, include some homemade Strawberry Fruit Leather on the side.
You could call it our all-star lunch! It’s everything you love about burritos, in a bowl! Use your choice of protein like taco meat from last night’s leftover, cooked chicken or black beans. Send this lunch cold or pack it inside a larger thermos container
As you can see, lunchtime is a BIG DEAL at MOMables and I’m always looking to make lunchtime healthier for my kids and your kids. When you are done planning all your teen’s lunches, you’ll be ready to make one of these dinner ideas for tonight!
Being a teenager is a big deal, packing lunches, not so much when you have lots of ideas! Here’s one last recipe that your teens are sure to love seeing in their lunchbox tomorrow!
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!
3-Ingredient Veggie Ranch Dip
With this easy-to-make Veggie Ranch Dip, there’s a good chance your teen will actually eat their veggies. It’s a breeze to make and it tastes amazing. Pack the dip in a small thermos to keep it cold until lunchtime and add a baggie of assorted fresh veggies for a healthy lunchtime snack.
Healthy Strawberry Oatmeal Bars
A delicious cross between a soft cookie bar and a streusel-topped crumbed bar, these sweet strawberry treats are perfect for your teen’s lunch or even as an after-school snack. The recipe calls for a few more ingredients than some of the other recipes here, but it makes a pretty good size batch so you’ll have plenty for the week – if they last that long, that is!
Healthy Teen Lunch: the Wrap
A delicious and healthy turkey wrap for teens that’s packed with deli turkey, hard-boiled eggs, veg, and cheese to keep your teen full for hours.
- 1 flour or gluten-free tortilla
- Chopped lettuce
- ½ cup halved cherry tomatoes
- 2 ounces sliced deli turkey
- 1 hard-boiled egg, chopped
- 2 tablespoons shredded Cheddar cheese
- 1–2 tablespoons Ranch dressing
- Place the tortilla onto a flat surface.
- Top the center of the tortilla with lettuce, tomatoes, deli turkey, chopped hard-boiled eggs, cheese, and a drizzle of Ranch dressing.
- Fold and roll burrito style. Slice the wrap in half and pack into lunch containers.