12 Quick & Easy Lunch Box Ideas for Teens

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While the days of juice boxes may be over, packing a lunch box doesn’t end at elementary school. For teens, bringing lunch to school vs. buying lunch in the cafeteria can help save money, boost nutrition, and provide the opportunity to incorporate favorite foods.

Our list of lunch box ideas is designed to strike the right balance between taste, health, and convenience for busy teens. From elevated classics to athlete-friendly options, we’ve got sandwiches, salads, pastas, and more that teens are sure to love. So, let’s start packing!

1. Peanut butter and jelly

You’re never too old for PB&J—which is why it kicks off our list of lunch box ideas for teens. It satisfies the sweet tooth while also offering a combination of whole grains, protein, and healthy fats. Switch things up by using almond butter, cashew butter or another type of nut butter. Or, for those who follow a nut-free lifestyle, try sunflower butter. You can also play around with different types of jams, jellies, and breads for an elevated twist on a iconic sandwich.

2. Chef pasta salad

You can’t go wrong with easy, fast lunch ideas inspired by the classics. Turn a traditional chef salad into a pasta dish by substituting lettuce with bowtie pasta. Simply combine cooked pasta with cubed ham, cubed turkey, cubed cheddar, sliced cherry tomatoes, chopped cucumbers, chopped green bell pepper, and sliced hard boiled egg. Stir in your favorite dressing and serve either at room temperature or cold.

3. Mediterranean pasta salad

Continuing our list of quick lunch box ideas for teens, we have this Mediterranean pasta salad. Combine cooked pasta with crumbled feta, olives, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, Greek dressing, and oregano. Easy lunch box ideas like this one are a great way to use up extra cooked pasta or leftover salad veggies from the night before.

4. Quinoa bowl

One of our favorite plant-based lunch box ideas for high schoolers is a quinoa bowl. Combine cooked quinoa with black beans, corn, sliced avocado, salsa, and a squeeze of lime for a Tex-Mex style bowl. Or make a Mediterranean style bowl with hummus, olives, tomatoes, cucumbers, feta, and tzatziki sauce.

5. Chicken and veggie stir fry

When packing a healthy lunch boxone of our favorite lunch ideas for teenage athletes is a protein-rich chicken and veggie stir fry. Sauté grilled chicken with vegetables like bell peppers, broccoli, and snap peas, then season with soy sauce, ginger, and garlic. Serve over whole grain brown rice.  Lunch box ideas like this one offer sustained energy for athletes on game days and practice days. Be sure to invest in a good, insulated lunch container to keep your stir fry warm.

6. Build-your-own bagel bento

Next on our list of packed lunch ideas is this fun DIY bagel kit. Here’s how to pack a lunch box bagel bento: Simply pre-slice mini bagels and include different spreads and topping combinations so that teens can customize to their liking. Combination ideas include:

  • Peanut butter sprinkled with raisins
  • Hummus sprinkled with chopped olives
  • Cream cheese topped with chives
  • Chocolate hazelnut spread topped sliced bananas
  • Greek yogurt sprinkled with Welch’s® Fruit ‘n Yogurt Snacks. Made with real fruit surrounded by creamy yogurt, these yummy snacks are an excellent source of Vitamins A & C, a good source of Vitamin D and Calcium, and have flavors from natural sources.

7. Taco salad

Continuing on our list of packed lunch ideas we have this teen-approved taco salad, which manages to be both nutritious and yummy. Toss together romaine lettuce, corn, black beans, diced onion, and chopped tomato. Sprinkle in a generous amount of shredded Mexican blend cheese along with tortilla strips for crunch. Top with taco meat, and pack a small side container with guacamole, sour cream, and/or your salad dressing of choice.

8. Italian wrap

Another one of the best lunch food options for high schoolers is an Italian wrap. Choose your favorite wrap variety and stuff it with ham, salami, provolone cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, and Italian dressing. Season to your liking with salt, pepper, and oregano.

9. Sandwich kit

The challenge of finding school lunch ideas for picky eaters doesn’t always end in elementary school. Deconstructed sandwich kits are a great foods for picky eaters at any age because kids can assemble the ingredients in any way they choose. If you’re asking yourself: What can I put in my kids lunch box sandwich kit? It’s simple. Fill each section of a divided reusable container with a different sandwich ingredient. For example, rolled up slices of ham in one section, rolled up slices of cheese in another section, and pita chips or crackers in the next section.

Add some fresh veggies and a fun treat, such as Welch’s Zero Sugar Fruity Bites . They’re a great way to enjoy the delicious fruity snacks you love, but with zero sugar. Plus, they’re gluten-free, aspartame free, and contain no preservatives. Find your favorite flavor: Mixed Fruit, Berries ‘n Cherries, or Island Fruits.

10. Mason jar salad

If you’re looking for school lunch ideas with aesthetic appeal, you’ve found it. Add your favorite salad dressing to the bottom of a clear glass mason jar, then layer with colorful cherry tomatoes, chopped cucumber, salad greens, chickpeas, and shredded cheddar cheese. Don’t be surprised if your teen snaps a pic first before they shake and enjoy.

11. Tuna salad pita pocket

Next on our list of what to pack for lunch for teens is a tuna salad pita pocket. Mix canned tuna with mayo or Greek yogurt, then add chopped celery, chopped onion, and salt and pepper. Scoop it into a pita pocket along with crisp lettuce leaves and sliced tomato.

12. Overnight oats

Overnight oats are a great option if you’re looking for cold lunch ideas for high schoolers that are a bit unexpected. Simply combine the following ingredients in a glass container, cover with a lid, and place in the refrigerator overnight: ½ cup rolled oats, ½ cup milk, 1/4 cup Greek yogurt, 1 tablespoon of honey or maple syrup, 1 tablespoon chia seeds, ½ teaspoon vanilla extract.

That wraps up our list of quick and easy lunch box ideas! We hope we’ve inspired you to elevate your teen’s everyday lunch routine with these crowd-pleasing ideas. Be sure pack a burst of fruity goodness with Welch’s Zero Sugar Fruity Bites– the perfect addition to every teen’s lunch bag!

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