During the growth spurts and active schedules of teenagers, it is extremely important to provide them with healthy and nutritious lunches. However, it can be challenging to strike a balance between their desire for fast and easy meals and the need for nutrient-packed foods.
Luckily, there are some really great ideas out there for healthy lunches for teens. We’ll talk about just a few of these ideas below.
So let’s get to it!
*Post may contain affiliate links. Full disclosure can be viewed here.
Nutrient-packed lunches are essential for hungry teens. Here are a few nutritious and easy lunch ideas for teens at home:
Use whole-grain wraps filled with lean turkey (or different deli meat if they prefer), assorted vegetables such as lettuce, tomatoes, and cucumbers, and a light spread of hummus or low-fat dressing. They can replace the wrap with a turkey sandwich on whole-grain bread if wraps aren’t really their thing. They can eat some fresh fruit on the side.
Prepare a quinoa salad by tossing cooked quinoa with cherry tomatoes, diced cucumbers, chopped bell peppers, feta cheese, and a drizzle of olive oil and lemon juice.
Combine grilled chicken breasts or rotisserie chicken, romaine lettuce, cherry tomatoes, whole-grain croutons, and a light Caesar dressing for a satisfying and nutritious salad. To make your life easier, you can keep pre-prepped and pre-seasoned chicken breast on hand- just store it in your freezer or refrigerator.
In a wok or skillet, stir-fry an assortment of colorful vegetables such as bell peppers, broccoli, carrots, and snap peas. Serve over brown rice cooked with low-sodium soy sauce. You can meal prep ahead of time so that this stir-fry is already prepared and ready to be reheated.
Mash ripe avocados and mix with canned tuna, lemon juice, chopped celery, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Add this mixture to whole-grain bread and feel free to add lettuce and tomato.
When it comes to packed lunches, whether it’s for the school day or another outing, it’s a good idea to prioritize convenience and nutrition. You will also want to keep in mind whether or not they’ll have access to a microwave or another way to heat their food. If you are not sure, it’s best to just stick to ready-to-eat foods that don’t need to be reheated. Here are five convenient and nutritious lunch ideas for teens:
Cook whole-wheat pasta al dente and toss with fresh vegetables like cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, and a light vinaigrette dressing. Feel free to add some protein on the side like chickpeas.
Layer Greek yogurt with granola, mixed berries, and a drizzle of honey for a protein-packed and satisfying lunch option. You can put the granola and mixed berries on the side to be added when needed. If you feel that this won’t be enough food, you can always pair this option with another one from this list.
Spread cream cheese or hummus on whole-grain tortillas and layer with thinly sliced vegetables like bell peppers, carrots, and spinach. Roll them up and cut them into pinwheels.
If you want to add some extra protein to your teenager’s lunch, this is an easy way to do so. All you need to do is mix hard-boiled eggs with some chopped celery, greek yogurt or mayo, and seasonings of your choice. You may also want to add some light lemon juice or mustard for extra flavor. It’s really an easy recipe and it can be prepped ahead of time so that it’s
ready to go.
This is a good idea if you know your teenager will have an opportunity to heat their lunch. Opt for lean turkey or vegetable patties and serve on whole-grain buns with lettuce, tomato, and a side of baked sweet potato fries or tortilla chips. You should put the lettuce and tomato on the side to be added when ready.
Finding ready-to-eat, healthy school lunch options can be challenging. Here are five ready-to-eat lunch ideas that require no heating and can also be made ahead:
Pack a bento box with a variety of bite-sized items like whole grain crackers, diced mozzarella cheese or string cheese sticks, hard-boiled eggs, baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, and grapes.
Fill a whole-wheat tortilla with a Greek salad mixture consisting of diced cucumbers, tomatoes, olives, feta cheese, and a light Greek dressing.
Spread hummus on a whole-grain bagel and layer with sliced cucumbers, bell peppers, shredded carrots, and baby spinach.
You can use the canned chicken salad or make your own using diced cooked chicken. Then simply spread it on the croissant.
Sushi rolls can be either store-bought or homemade. There are endless options for nutritious foods to put in your sushi, so feel free to experiment with different ingredients each time.
Providing teens with nutritious and appealing lunch options is a great way to support their growth and health. There are many options available even for picky eaters. And the best part is, parents can involve their teens in the meal planning and preparation to promote healthy eating habits and empower them to make smart food choices.