If you need to make healthy school lunches for teenage athletes or active kids, you’ve come to the right place; because as a mom to 3 kids, I know what it’s like when an active kid can eat you out of the house.
While school sports are a great way for kids to get involved, socialize, and learn new skills, they also work up an appetite. And we all know that this means that the first words out of their mouth when they get home are… “I’m starving!” Right?
These easy school lunch ideas will keep them energized and ready to score the winning point every day since they have a good balance of protein, carbs, and healthy fats.
Providing our kids with a healthy balance of nutrients in each meal will help them stay energized and their bodies growing properly, especially for student-athletes. All the extra activity in after-school practices and game days burn a lot of energy and calories.
In fact, the extra activity may require a higher calorie intake compared to a non-active child or teen. To find your child’s caloric requirement, go here.
However, you want to make sure these calories are coming from the right sources such as protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats -not packaged foods.
These are easy to incorporate into any meal especially lunch if you have the right ingredients. Below are examples of each food group so you can get your ideas going.
Need: More Protein:
Protein helps build and maintain healthy muscle, and that’s essential for athletic endurance. Great sources of protein that are also lunchbox building blocks! They come in the form of grilled or baked chicken, deli cuts, beans, hummus, peanut butter, yogurt, and cheese.
Need: More Carbohydrates:
These are essential for supplying energy which is vital for athletic performance. Keep in mind, there is a difference in obtaining carbs from fruit juice or sugared snack bars vs. brown rice.
The juice or granola bar will give a surge of energy, but this won’t last! The results are an energy crash later, which is not what we want for our kids.
Carbohydrates found in whole grains, sweet potatoes, and starchier veggies break down slower and provide long-lasting energy. Great options include brown rice, quinoa, whole wheat pitas, bread, and wraps, as well as sweet potatoes, corn, and beans.
More Healthy Fats:
Fat is good-for-you. The healthy fat kind that is.
Fat, healthy fats, provide us with energy, help our bodies absorb vitamins, helps our brains to function, and keeps you full, longer. All of which you want for your child.
Healthy fats that are perfect in a lunchbox include nuts, seeds, peanut butter ( or no-nut butter), avocado, guacamole, salad dressings made with olive oil or coconut oil, and full-fat dairy ingredients like yogurt and cheese are great sources.
Need: More Fiber:
Fiber isn’t just to “keep everything moving” but also has a lot of nutritional benefits as well as being essential for the digestion of foods.
What to Pack for a Teenage Lunch:
Make sure to keep it simple- Wraps, bentos, and thermos lunches are all kid and teen favorites. However, that main item might not be enough so always add a variety of veggies, proteins, and healthy fats along with the main item
Some of my favorites:
- 2-3 Energy Bites
- Protein & Fiber Chocolate Smoothie
- Chocolate Peanut Butter Dip -great with apples!
- No-Bake Blondie Bars
- 7 Layer Taco Cups
With athletes and active kids, durability is key. Since, more than likely, the lunch bag will get tossed around the gym bag or thrown on the ground before practice.
Always great to have on hand to feed active kids leftovers from dinner; turning it into a filling meal.
If you are looking for a comparison of durable thermos containers, check out this post. You can pack hot lunches like Burritos Bowls, Teriyaki Chicken Bowls, or soup!
Here are some filling and healthy lunch ideas for teenage athletes and active kids:
Teriyaki Chicken Bowls:
This Chicken Teriyaki recipe is great to make for dinner and then pack the leftovers for lunch the next day. Served over brown rice and packed along with fresh fruit and veggies.
These bite-sized favorites are a great source of protein from the eggs and cheese. Make a batch at the beginning of the week and use them to pack into lunches or to serve for breakfast! Each recipe yields 24 mini quiches, and most teens eat 6-8 in one sitting!
Hummus is an excellent source of protein, fiber, and healthy fats. It’s also extremely versatile! Check out these five awesome ways to use hummus for lunches.
If your school has a no-nut policy, swap the peanut butter for another nut-free butter such as sunflower seed butter or soybean butter.
Salmon Salad Pita:
This lunch is loaded with Omega-3’s, healthy fats, and protein. Pack it in a pita or wrap.
Chicken Salad Lunches:
Make a large batch of Chicken Salad, serve some in bentos, like this, and use the rest for making wraps and sandwiches later in the week. Check out this video below and the chicken salad recipe here.
However, you pack em these tips and recipes are sure to be winners for both you and your athlete!