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Easy Lunches for Teens

               It's another morning and another day to make lunch for your teen. Is it hard to think of what to prepare for your teen? Do you prepare the same meal every day? Are you looking for easy lunch ideas for teens? Continue reading for some ideas for your teen's lunch.

               I like to think of lunches by food categories. In a lunch, your teen should have a protein, a carbohydrate, and a vegetable. Many teens will also need a snack or two to go along with that. You will want to choose a food from each category to make a complete lunch.

               Keep in mind that you can widen your idea of what goes in a lunch for a teen. To make an easy lunch for a teen, be open minded about what you can include. You can add in foods that are not traditionally eaten at lunchtime, some prepackaged foods, and even mix and match foods that are not typically eaten together. If you can expand what you think lunch can be, you will have more options.

lunch box for teens

Easy Lunch Ideas for Teens

The Leftover

               If your teen has access to a microwave at school to reheat leftovers, you can pack him The Leftover for an easy lunch. The Leftover involves starting with dinner leftovers. With some forethought, you can package dinner leftovers in a container right after dinner time for an easy lunch for your teen the next day. This works well with stir fries, soups, grilled chicken, and pasta.

               Make sure to notice if the leftovers are missing a meal component, and add what is missing. Bread and crackers make an easy carb addition, baby carrots always work as a vegetable, and hard boiled eggs can be your protein in a pinch.

               This at least take the labor away from one lunch component and also prevents food waste. Remember that it is OK to combine foods that are not typically eaten together at a meal. Two slices of bread with stir fried chicken and veggies is fine, as is a bean and vegetable soup with a side of hard boiled eggs. If you can use your leftovers as the basis of a meal, you have an easy lunch for your teen.

The Instant Meal

               With the Instant Meal, remember that it is OK to rely on convenience food sometimes if you want an easy lunch for your teen. As you are planning the instant meal, keep in mind the components you want to have in the meal. Aim to include a protein, a carbohydrate, and a vegetable.

               An instant grain packet your teen can heat in a microwave, tuna fish in a tear-top pouch, and a bag of baby carrots have all the components of a meal. While this lunch might not be the most typical combinations of foods, it can satisfy your teen's hunger and also give them decent nutrition.

               It may even be helpful to pack a few instant lunches to store in the pantry that your teen can grab on those crazy mornings. Besides for the main lunch components, make sure to add some sides or snacks. Fruit cups, applesauce cups, packets of nuts, popcorn, beef jerky, dried fruit, and nut bars are all good ideas.

               Remember that you can also use components of The Instant Meal to fill in the gaps of other lunches. Your teen already has a container of pasta? Add a cheese stick, cherry tomatoes, and a bag of nuts to their bag for instant sides and snacks, and your easy lunch is ready.

The Meal Prepper Meal

               The Meal Prepper Meal is an easy lunch for teens for those who are good at planning ahead. At one point in the week, spend about an hour preparing a carb, protein, and vegetable. Portion them out into containers that can hold the whole meal, and though you don't have variety for the week, you do have a reliable lunch!

               For the meal's carbohydrate component, here are a few easy ideas. You can roast sweet potatoes or cook them in the microwave. If you want to go down the grain route, try quinoa, barley, or rice cooked in a soup broth. If you have plenty time, you can make a bean soup as your meal's carbohydrate.

               When it comes to protein, think of your go-to options. This can be bone in chicken, boneless chicken, steak, ground beef, turkey, or fish. You can use a store-bought marinade, sauce, or dressing to flavor your protein. Or, you can use a seasoning mix for another easy flavor. Try boneless chicken seasoned with lemon pepper, marinate steaks in a store-bought marinade and grill, brown your ground beef and add tomato sauce, or use a fish seasoning mix for your salmon, and bake in the oven.

               Your vegetable can either be part of another dish or its own dish. If you are stir-frying chicken or beef, add a frozen stir fry vegetablr mix or some fresh cut vegetables such as carrots or broccoli. If you are baking chicken, you can add other vegetables to the pan, such as mushrooms, peppers, or onions to roast along with the chicken. If you are making a bean soup, up its vegetable content with carrots, celery, broccoli, zucchini, or onions.

               The Meal Prepper Meal can be an easy lunch idea for your teen if you like to plan ahead. Even though it takes some advance planning, it often does not take much more hands-on time than last minute lunches.

The Teen-Made Meal

               The Teen-Made Meal is my favorite easy lunch for teens. This meal involves having your teen make their own lunch. It is the easiest for busy parents--completely hands off! There are challenges with the Teen Made Lunch, though, so read on to see if you're up to the test.

               There are a few steps to having a successful Teen-Made Meal. First, you have to be ready to surrender some of the responsibility for what their teens eat. Next, you have to provide enough time to transition your teen from having their lunch made for them to expecting them to make it on their own. When starting this process, establish some time on the weekend or in the evening for your teen to spend time helping you make their lunch. Educate them on the categories of food you expect them to incorporate in their lunch, and allow them to choose foods from each category. As they gain independence with this, you can slowly shift lunch making responsibilities to them.

               For parents, the biggest benefit of the Teen-Made Meal is that it is one less thing for them to do every day! Another important benefit is that it teaches teens important skills--planning a nutritious meal, panning ahead, and being responsible for some of their needs. The Teen-Made Meal is probably the easiest teen lunch for parents because the parents don't have to make it!

Easy Lunches for Teens Completed!

               Now that you have ideas for easy lunches for teens, you can feel confident that your teen will eat well. With some new ideas for yourself or for your teen, your teen can have delicious easy lunches.


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