42 simple summer lunch ideas kids can make

When I announced to my boys that they would be making their own lunches over the summer, they responded with an enthusiastic “Yaaaaaay!”, followed by an unconvincing “Awwwww”. Since cooking is technically work, they didn’t want to come across as overly excited, but I knew that they were jazzed.

It’s all part of my master plan to keep them busy and out of trouble. I’d given it some thought and realized that lunch was the best meal for them to take over. I’m not awake enough to supervise breakfast prep first thing in the morning (kids don’t sleep in, remember?) and by dinner time they are fading from a day in the sun. No, it had to be lunch.

My children tend to eat a big lunch, then pick at their dinners; I’ve grown used to it. I stuffed their lunch kits with a well-rounded mid-day meal all school-year long and my 6-year-old never failed to return his completely empty. So, we’re putting some attention into lunches this summer, but still keeping things simple enough for them to execute under my supervision.

Why my kids are making summer lunches | SImple Bites

Simple Summer Lunch Ideas for Kids

We’re going to harvest produce from our garden as much as possible, visit local farm stands, and collect our own eggs to ensure meals stay light and fresh – when we’re not running out the door with a peanut butter sandwich, that is. Our plans for a home cooked lunch aren’t set in stone, merely something to aspire to when we’re kicking around the homestead.

Are the boys completely on their own for lunch? Of course not. I’m going to see that we have brown rice cooked for rice bowls, cooked beans for quesedillas and burritos, and plenty of cut veggies, hard boiled eggs, and items like that stashed in the fridge. They already know where to find whole wheat and corn tortillas, bagels and sandwich bread in our freezer.

Why my kids are making summer lunches  and ideas for easy lunches | SImple Bites banana bites

Here’s a quick guide to the recipes below:

  • FF = Freezer Friendly
  • GF = Gluten Free
  • NC = No Cook
  • P = Portable/Picnic
  • R = Rainy Day
  • V = Vegetarian

Cold Recipes

    1. Pea-camole with tortilla chips (V, GF, P)
    2. Garden Vegetable Pasta Salad (P, V)
    3. Taco Salad with Roasted Chickpeas (P)

simple tacos easy guacamole

    1. Simple Chicken Tacos with Mild Guacamole (my recipe on Jamie Oliver)
    2. Cottage Cheese & Granola Parfaits (P, NC, V, GF)
    3. Spring Pea & Romaine Salad with Feta, Cucumber and Radish (P, GF, V, NC)

Two smoothie recipes: Meyer Lemon Blueberry Buzz and Green Pina Colada | Simple Bites  #recipe #smoothies

    1. Smoothies – Blueberry Buzz and Spinach Mango (NC, V, P)
    2. Homemade Crackers and cheese, cut veggies and other snackables (V, P, R)
    3. Teddy Bear Toast :: Weelicious (V)
    4. Sandwich Skewers :: My Fussy Eater (P, NC)

asian noodle salad

    1. Quick Asian Noodle Salad (V, P)
    2. Banana Dog Bites :: Catherine McCord for Yahoo Shine (NC, V, P)
    3. Honey Lime Chia Seed Fruit Salad :: Food for My Family (NC, V, P)
    4. Creamy Balsamic Chicken Pasta Salad :: Stetted (P)

Harvest Corn Chowder recipe on www.simplebites.net

Hot Recipes

    1. Harvest Corn Chowder (V, R)
    2. Homemade Chicken Nuggets – Make a big batch and freeze for quick reheats. (FF, P)
    3. Pesto Yogurt Chicken Kebabs :: Garnish with Lemon (P)
    4. Garlic Ham Fettuccine (FF)

Simple chicken noodle soup

    1. Simple Chicken Noodle Soup (my recipe on Jamie Oliver) (R)
    2. Simple French Lentil Soup (R, FF)
    3. Apple, Bacon and Cheddar Frittata  (P)
    4. Roasted Vegetable Quinoa Bowls, Peanut Sauce :: Cook Like A Champion (V, R, GF)

banana oatmeal pancakes

    1. Fluffy Banana Oat Pancakes (V, FF)
    2. Noah’s Easy Peasy Pancakes (V, FF)
    3. French Toast, Kids Edition :: Kitchen Explorers (V)

Tuna Cheddar Lunchbox Bites | Simple Bites #schoollunch #recipe #glutenfree

    1. Tuna Cheddar Lunchbox Bites (FF, P, GF)
    2. Pappardelle Pasta With Leeks and Corn :: Hello, Wonderful (FF, V)
    3. Easy Tortilla Pizza :: Kitchen Simplicity (R, FF)

squash mini quiche

    1. Squash & Parmesan Mini Quiche (R, V, FF, P)
    2. Zucchini Pizza Boats :: In Sonnet’s Kitchen (V, GF)
    3. Speedy Tex-Mex Breakfast Muffins :: A Spicy Perspective (P)

Homemade Egg-McMuffins-

    1. Homemade Egg McMuffins :: Kitchen Simplicity  (P)
    2. Ricotta Scrambled Egg and Asparagus Tacos :: A Couple Cooks (V, GF)
    3. Crustless Bacon, Spinach, and Mushroom Quiche :: Table for Two (GF, FF, R)
    4. 5 Minute Homemade Mac and Cheese :: Picky Palate (FF, V)

Cobb Salad Sandwich with Avocado Spread

Sandwiches & Wraps

    1. Cobb Salad Sandwich (NC, P)
    2. Croque Monsieur (R)
    3. Tomato, Tzatziki and Radish Sandwiches (NC, P, V)

Tuna salad wrap  via stetted

  1. Tuna Salad Wraps :: Stetted (NC, P)
  2. Pepperoni Mozzarella Grilled Cheese :: Family Fresh Cooking (P, R)
  3. Turkey and Hummus Mediterranean Panini :: Picky Palate (R)
  4. Quick Guacamole Hack Grilled Cheese Sandwich :: Hello, Wonderful (R, V)

What is your go-to easy summer lunch?

About Aimee

Cooking has always been Aimée's preferred recreational activity, creative outlet, and source of relaxation. After nearly ten years in the professional cooking industry, she went from restaurant to RSS by trading her tongs and clogs for cookie cutters and a laptop, serving as editor here at Simple Bites. Her first book, Brown Eggs and Jam Jars - Family Recipes from the Kitchen of Simple Bites, was published in February 2015.

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  1. Amazing collection of recipes! Now if only I can get my kids to make some of these for ME! 😉 Thanks for including our Pesto Yogurt Chicken Kebabs!

  2. Seriously lucky kids! What a great opportunity to learn to prepare (and to EAT) such delicious food. Bookmarking!

    • Well it remains to be seen how many recipes they follow through with. They tend to find a favourite and make it on repeat!

      • Audra Hendrix says

        I don’t think my kids will even eat most of what’s on this list. However the adults would gladly indulge.

  3. This is perfect! I just told my kids this morning that each one will be responsible for planning and making a lunch on the weekend! I’ll sit down with them tonight and show them this post to kick start them!

  4. My son really wants to cook more this year. We bought a kids’ cookbook, but my biggest challenge is getting him cooking when he expresses the interest. (Six year olds aren’t really into weekly meal planning and adding “run to the store” as the first step tends to quickly kill the desire to help in the kitchen!) But lunch! This lunch list looks like a lot of stuff we can make with the things we already have around the house. And he’s more interested in chopping and assembling than waiting for a casserole to cook in the oven. I may print this list a few of hte recipes to create another reference for him.

  5. Thank you so much for all the kid friendly recipes! my daughter will be so excited to be more involved in making lunch, we were also running out of ideas so this is perfect timing!

  6. This is a great collection of recipes! I’m bookmarking this for when my kids are just a little bit older!

  7. My kids are 12 and 15, but I love this list for more ideas! Thank you!

  8. Well, I’ll be running off this list for a long time. =) Our go-to lunches tend to be snacky and finger food- fruit, protein of some kind, bread of some kind and veggies. Perfect for the beach, playground or nature park.

  9. Nice roundup of kid friendly lunches!

  10. This list is perfect for the summer!! I gotta save this for the future hehe

  11. What a fun summer lunch list! Bookmarking!!

  12. Such a great idea! I love how you are going have the components ready for them to assemble!

  13. La Torontoise says

    What a great list! I alredy know the mini-muffins/quiches and I look forward to having all the time to do more. Can hardly wait for my vacation next Friday!!
    6 weeks free of school: -)

    Have a great weekend.

  14. Thanks for sharing! I’ll surely be trying out some of these with my little one.


  15. La Torontoise says

    What a great list! I alredy know the mini-muffins/quiches and I look forward to having all the time to do more. Can hardly wait for my vacation next Friday!!
    6 weeks free of school: -)

    Have a great weekend.

  16. Excellent ideas Aimee ~ I need to get my kiddos into some of these 🙂

  17. Can’t wait to try these with Caleb!

  18. Awesome recipe list! Lunches are the bane of my existence 🙂

    We have a tendency to default to either PB&J or quesadillas.

  19. Even though it says “kids can make” and I have no children, I am going to use a lot of these! Working full time makes it hard to find time or energy to make complicated meals, and so it is great to have a summery list of easy meals!

  20. This is such n awesome post. I am very inspired to get my kids making their own lunches as well!

  21. All of those in the picture looks so delicious and so healthy.. It’s School time again, so this ideas would be so perfect preparation for My kids..

  22. These recipes are great! Thanks for them!

  23. Thank you so much! This is just what I needed.

  24. One drink I make, ill share, I use a bullet blender, put two bananas, one drop food grade iodine, one natural multivitamin, blueberries, strawberry’s, protein powder, a bit of milk, a bit of ice, and one strawberry glucerna

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