When it comes to lunch, having a few well-prepared healthy packed lunch ideas for high school kids can make all the difference in the world. Seems like the weeks just get more and more rushed between going to work, taking the kids to school, doing errands, playing with the kids and making dinner. It might seem impossible to find time to prepare a healthy packed lunch. But it is possible as long as you have some good healthy packed lunch ideas for high school kids.
Thinking of healthy and exciting packed lunch fillings can be a daily challenge – especially if you can’t envisage your child happily trotting off to school with a box of sprouting mung beans, and you’re not bowing to the crisp and chocolate demands. Here are some simple, fast and scrumptious ideas to bring new life to the dreaded lunchbox – and remember, the power of novelty is not to be underestimated.
Healthy and happy
According to NHS choices a balanced lunchbox should contain:
- Starchy foods like bread, rice, potatoes or pasta
- Protein foods like meat, fish, eggs or beans
- A dairy item, like cheese or yogurt
- Vegetables or salad and a portion of fruit
Try something new
Cheese and pickle is not to be knocked, but if your kids are tired with the same old sandwich fillings then why not try something new?
Omelette in a bun
Combine two lunchtime favourites for the ultimate mealtime mashup your kids will love. These hearty omelette rolls can either be served warm for a quick dinner or wrapped up for a satisfying veggie packed lunch the next day. Fill the omelettes with juicy cherry tomatoes, crumbled feta and spinach for a mouthwatering bite. You could add extra salad if you like, and older children may like a touch of salsa or pickle as well.
You’re a star sarnies
Use a star-shaped cutter to stamp out six bread stars from the wholemeal bread (freeze the off-cuts to make breadcrumbs). Swirl the red pesto through the cream cheese and spread onto both sides of the stars. Close the sandwich, wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge if making the night before.
Green club sandwich
Double decking bread just makes sandwiches more exciting – fact. But it also gives you license to squeeze in extra good stuff. This green club sandwich is high on energy, so kids should feel extra alert all the way through double maths. Lesley Water’s sandwich filler ideas are also a great way of adding extra variety by getting creative with simple ingredients.
Super salad wraps
Help your kids to pack in the veggies with these super tasty and colourful salad wraps. We’ve added lots of crunchy veg for texture, whilst cheddar cheese and hummus give a flavour hit. Alternatively, add tuna, chicken or egg.
For more tasty tortillas, try our carrot & hummus roll-ups or chicken roll-ups.
Cheese and apple
Mix their favourite grated hard cheese with grated apple, chopped spring onions, a squeeze of lemon and a little mayonnaise. Delicious with wholemeal bread or rolls.
Creamy smoked mackerel
Skin and flake smoked mackerel fillets, then mix with a little mayonnaise and Greek yogurt. Spread onto thick wholemeal bread and top with crisp lettuce leaves.
Marmite, cheese and cucumber
Try Marmite, grated cheddar and sliced cucumber in a crusty baguette or ciabatta roll. They’ll either love it or hate it.
Want to bin the sandwich altogether? There are plenty of carby options that kids should love and that can help add a bit of variety into your child’s diet.
Perk up their lunchboxes with a gorgeously creamy pesto pasta salad. Customise with cooked veg such as peas, green beans and courgettes, as well as an assortment of protein. Chicken, ham, prawns, hard-boiled egg or cheese are all good options, depending on dietary preference.
For more pasta inspiration, follow the ‘make it for kids’ swap on the store cupboard pasta salad; whip up a speedy Mediterranean-style tortellini with pesto & broccoli; or try this flavourful BLT pasta salad for a lighter version of a classic British sarnie.
For something a little lighter yet still filling and flavoursome, make our speedy coronation chicken salad. This deliciously creamy recipe uses pre-cooked roast chicken pieces along with a grain pounch to save time.
Our chicken taco salad and two-bean tuna salad also work really well in the summer months. If you’re worried about keeping your child’s lunchbox cool, why not freeze an extra bottle of water overnight to work as a cooler – it’ll give them a refreshing afternoon drink, too.
Feasts in a flask
If your kids fancy something warm and comforting for lunch, why not stir them up a tasty soup, a veg-packed curry or even some Swedish-style meatballs. Pack them in a wide-necked thermos flask to take to school. With these super satisfying recipes, they’ll be the envy of the class on chilly winter days…
Big-batch chicken soup
Creamy lentil & veggie curry
Crisp and chocolate swaps
Cutting out foods that are high in salt and sugar is a huge step to creating a healthy lunch for your child. Simply swapping crisps, sweet biscuits and chocolate bars for foods like unsalted nuts, dried fruit, chunks of cheese or a low-sugar yogurt is a huge step forward. But if you want to get creative, we have plenty of interesting ideas for lunchbox snacks that kids should fall in love with…
A sweet and fruity treat for kids needing a boost at lunchtime – yogurt swirled with mashed strawberries and topped with berries.
These super easy and moreish oatmeal bites are not only bursting with wholesome flavour, but also only take 30 minutes to prep and bake. Your kids might never ask for shop-bought versions again…
If your child is known for returning their fruit untouched in their lunchbox then this might be the answer. Who can resist a chocolate orange in fruity form?
Sweet potato crisps
This super-simple veggie snack takes no time to make. Thinly slice a sweet potato and roast in olive oil – no added salt is needed.
Sweet potato crisps
Spiced apple crisps
These spiced apple crisps take a bit of time to bake, but couldn’t be simpler to make. Try packing them in a paper bag to make them look more like sweets.
Spiced apple crisps
If your child needs a sweet fix, then this quick and easy popcorn makes a great alternative to a chocolate snack bar.
Melon & crunchy bran pots
Fibre, yogurt and fruit make a winning combination in these scrumptious crunchy melon pots.
Melon & crunchy bran pots
Welsh rarebit muffins
Get the kids to help make up these yummy muffins, and they can show off the results to their friends at lunchtime.
Welsh rarebit muffins
Rhubarb & custard crunch
These are great for a Friday treat. Tuck shops might not be as popular as they once were, but this classic combination of rhubarb and custard never really went out of fashion.
Rhubarb & custard crunch
These bars are packed full of slow-burning carbs that will happily see kids through an afternoon of running around the playground.
New ways with fruit and veg
Creating a pick-and-mix effect can make fruit look much more attractive to kids, even if all it involves is a few extra minutes peeling and dicing an apple or adding in a couple of grapes. It sounds ridiculous, but securing fruit and cheese on a stick can really work wonders when it comes to getting kids to eat their 5-a-day, and it takes just minutes to prepare. Whizzing up healthy dips or homemade hummus to accompany vegetable sticks is another great trick, and so much easier than you might think. Here are some ideas…
Need some healthy school lunch ideas for teens that are both full of nutrition and easy to pack? You’ve come to the right place. These ideas a filling, quick and easy to eat and they’re packed with healthy nutrients that will keep your teens feeling their best all day long.
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
More “grownup” recommendations for lunch gear here.
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.
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.