Healthy Lunch Ideas for Summer That Kids Love

Healthy Lunch Ideas for Summer That Kids Love
Image: iStock

Healthy Lunch Ideas For Summer That Kids Love
iStock

When kids are home from school for the summer, we no longer have the option of letting them get the school lunch instead of packing their own. But there are so many tasty, easy, healthful recipes that can make summer lunches with the kids fun and good for us -- and which we'll probably want to make extra of for ourselves, too. For moms who are at work during the kids' lunchtime, almost all of these recipes can be prepped in advance and left in the fridge for them to find later, and a lot of these recipes can be made as a double or triple batch, so kids can DIY their own lunches for a few days. But some use an oven, so those only work for older kids who can use one safely.

When it comes to finding healthy dishes kids will actually eat, we know it's not always a simple task. If the family is trying more vegetarian foods, some creative but simple plant-based recipes can convince even the most die-hard chicken nugget fan to step outside of his comfort zone. Or, try recipes that fool kids into eating their veggies to get kids who are profoundly anti-vegetable to change their minds. For easy weeknight meals, check out healthy pasta recipes, which are sure to please the kids. 

Feeding the kids healthy meals they'll eat all summer is a challenge, for sure, but some planning ahead goes a long way toward making it happen for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

  • Popcorn Salad

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    Popcorn Salad
    iStock

    This recipe for popcorn salad is so delicious and fun, and it helps get kids to eat their veggies. Add some leftover rotisserie chicken or roast chickpeas for a protein boost, and throw whatever veggies are in the fridge on there, too. 

  • Snack Lunch Plate

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    Snack Lunch Plate
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    Putting together a snack lunch plate is a fun lunch that kids love (and adults do, too). Slices of cheese, a hard-boiled egg or two, some cut-up veggies, fruit slices, pieces of lunch meat rolled up, handfuls of nuts ... really, it's a healthy lunch made up of the easiest things. 

  • Turkey Bacon Avocado BLT 

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    Turkey Bacon Avocado BLT
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    This turkey bacon avocado BLT is a much healthier play on the classic bacon lettuce and tomato sandwich. Avocado is packed with healthy fats (unlike the less-healthy fats in regular pork bacon) and turkey bacon is also healthier than regular bacon. 

  • Burrito Bowl

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    Burrito Bowl
    iStock

    This recipe for easy burrito bowls is delicious and simple, and is also a smart way to use leftovers from taco night the night before -- just double or triple the recipes and save everything for lunch the next day! 

  • Pita Pizzas

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    Pita Pizzas
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    Kids absolutely adore pita pizzas, and they're so easy to put together -- plus they're considerably more healthful and less expensive than regular pizzas, so it's really a win/win all around. Choose toppings like fresh veggies for added healthfulness!

  • Healthyish Nachos

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    Healthyish Nachos
    iStock

    Nachos are basically every kid's favorite snack food, but this recipe for healthyish nachos is packed with protein and fiber, so even though there are some empty carbs in here with the chips, it somewhat balances out -- and is super fun for kids. 

  • Pesto Pasta Salad

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    Pesto Pasta Salad
    iStock

    Pesto pasta salad is such an easy lunch to make that will last all week if it's kept vegetarian -- add some faux chicken or tempeh for an added boost of protein. And chickpea flour pasta is lower in carbs and higher in protein, as well. 

  • Tuna-Stuffed Peppers

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    Tuna-Stuffed Peppers
    iStock

    Tuna-stuffed peppers are a go-to dinner option, and they make for beautiful lunches the next day, too. It's also an easy lunch to make that can last for a couple of days running -- and it's packed with vitamins and protein. 

  • Taco Salad

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    Taco Salad
    iStock

    Taco salad is a healthy lunch that's also so simple to make. This recipe is a solid one, but honestly, it's a smart way to use up leftover taco filling from the night before. Add some cut-up fajita veggies for added fiber and vitamins. 

  • Strawberry Jam & Peanut Butter Whole Wheat Tortillas

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    Strawberry Jam And Peanut Butter Tortillas
    iStock

    A healthy light lunch, strawberry jam and peanut butter wrapped in a tortilla is great because kids can make it for themselves -- and it's perfect bring as a snack to the beach. Pair with carrot sticks and sugar snap peas for a more well-rounded meal. 

  • Mediterranean Hummus Lunch Bowl

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    Mediterranean Hummus Lunch Bowl
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    These Mediterranean hummus lunch bowls are a solid starting point (and another great recipe for using up leftovers). The soft boiled eggs are an inexpensive, lean protein, and add the kofta meatballs for extra protein and tastiness.  

  • Homemade Chicken Fingers With Yogurt Ranch Dressing

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    Homemade Chicken Fingers With Yogurt Ranch Dressing
    iStock
    These homemade chicken fingers are really delicious and are so much healthier than the traditional deep-fried version. This recipe for homemade chicken fingers with yogurt ranch dressing is so good, and just mix ranch dressing mix and Greek yogurt for a healthy dipping sauce. 
  • Cold Peanut Noodle Salad

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    Cold Peanut Noodle Salad
    iStock

    This cold peanut noodle salad is so incredibly tasty, and it lasts for a long time in the fridge, too. For extra protein, throw in some cold leftover edamame, shredded roast chicken, or some of those Quorn fake chicken pieces that are made of mushroom protein. 

  • Roasted Veggie Quinoa Bowl

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    Roasted Veggie Quinoa Bowl
    iStock

    This roasted veggie quinoa bowl is so tasty, and while the ingredients listed are really good in this recipe, it's also just a tasty way to use up cold roasted vegetables left over from dinner the night before. 

  • Garden Salad with Hard Boiled Egg

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    Garden Salad with Hard Boiled Egg
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    This recipe for garden salad with hard boiled egg calls for Caesar dressing, but another option is to mix Greek yogurt with a ranch mix packet. Wasa crackers are also a crunchy replacement for Triscuits, and have fewer carbs for families that are watching them. 
  • Turkey Roll-Ups

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    Turkey Roll-Ups
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    Turkey roll-ups are so completely easy, and they're also budget-friendly to make because tortillas are so inexpensive. This recipe calls for Swiss cheese, but really, any sliced sandwich cheese will be great in it. 

  • Rainbow Bowl With Ginger Dressing

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    Rainbow Bowl With Ginger Dressing
    iStock

    This recipe for rainbow bowl with ginger dressing is so tasty and colorful, and kids love the idea of eating an entire rainbow. The tomatoes, purple cabbage, and shredded carrots add a ton of color, and the dressing is absolutely delicious. 

  • Pork & Broccoli Grain Bowl

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    Pork And Broccoli Grain Bowl
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    This pork and broccoli grain bowl is super healthy, packed with broccoli, sweet potato, and quinoa. We love the flavors and the fact that it also works for dinner and then can be popped back in the microwave for lunch the next day.  

  • Vegetarian Chili

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    Vegetarian Chili
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    We love a good vegetarian chili, and this recipe is an awesome one. The best part of making chili is that it's even better the next day, and also freezes extremely well. Freeze in small containers so they can be defrosted for lunch-sized portions. 

  • Hummus Wrap

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    Hummus Wrap
    iStock

    We love a good hummus wrap because they're easy for kids to make for themselves (or for parents to make in advance). There are a ton of variations on this theme, but here's a standard hummus wrap recipe.

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