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Summer Lunch Ideas for Kids

This post was originally published on July 6, 2010.

Snacky Lunch

This season may find you busy helping at Vacation Bible School, taking your children on outings, catching a free show, or otherwise enjoying more relaxed summer days. But, Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall — one thing stays the same: ya gotta eat.

Mealtimes may be hurried. You’re racing out the door for the next event. Mealtimes might be on the go. You’re going to be away from home at lunchtime. Mealtimes might just take more energy than you want to expend. Didn’t you just spend nine months packing school lunches?

Summer Lunch Ideas for Kids

If you have an arsenal of lunch ideas at your fingertips, you’ll be more likely to have meals ready to go — either on the table or out the door.

Here are some ideas to get you thinking.

A Snacky Lunch is one that kids love and that takes very little time to prepare. It consists of fruit, cheese, crackers, and maybe some hard-cooked eggs or sliced turkey. This is a weekly staple at our house. And it can be made ahead of time and taken on the road as well.

Wash your fruit in a vinegar rinse. Slice apples and oranges, section grapefruit, or cut grapes into clusters. Treat apples with a little lemon or lime juice to prevent browning – the bane of picky children everywhere. Slice cheese. Cook and chill your eggs. Be careful not to store crackers and cheese together. They tend to harden and soggify each other.

You can either serve buffet style as shown or portion each person’s lunch for homemade “lunchables.”

Freezer Smoothies make great breakfasts, lunches, or snacks. Simply blend up big batches of your favorite smoothie combinations and pour into small cups. Plastic freezer jars from Ball are great for this purpose. Twist on the caps and store in the freezer.

I’ve packed these into a cooler along with a picnic lunch and they thawed to the perfect consistency by the time we were ready for “lunch dessert.” Smoothies are also a great afternoon snack or healthy dessert.

Feel free to sneak in veggies that your kids might otherwise turn up their noses for. I’ve heard of moms having great success in throwing in a handful of spinach that the blender quickly disguises.

Chimichangas and Burritos are a huge hit around our house. It used to be that I would cook up a big pot of beans and make “burrito kits,” assembling a pint of cooked pintos, a bag of shredded cheese, precooked taco meat, and a package of tortillas. I would freeze this kit for later use in the month when we’d have a burrito bar or chimichangas for lunch or dinner.

A few months ago, I started assembling the burritos themselves and freezing them all rolled and ready to go. What a transformation for our mealtimes! Somebody hungry and in need of a snack? He just nukes a frozen burrito. Not wanting to make a big fuss at lunch? I just thaw a bag of burritos and crisp them on the griddle for almost instant chimichangas.

The Burritos are usually the first things to go from Freezer Cooking Days.

Sandwiches and Fruit are an old stand by. Unless I find a great deal on bread, though, they are often for special occasions, believe it or not. FishBoy13 requested Roast Beef on Sourdough for his birthday. Bread freezes well, so stock up when you see a good price and you’ll have the base of a great sandwich. Bagels and tortillas also are good breads on which to build your sandwich. Chicken salad, deli meats, tuna salad, and hard cooked eggs make great fillings.

One of the humble sandwich’s selling points is that each diner can custom make his own, any time. Just set aside a special drawer or section of the refrigerator for sandwich fillings and condiments that are fair game.

Want BBQ flavor without the fuss of firing up the grill? Make BBQ Sandwiches Cook up a batch or two of pulled pork or shredded beef. Freeze it in meal size freezer bags until ready to serve. Add some buns, pickles, and BBQ sauce and you’ve got a lunch that would make any kid smile. Add veggies and dip as a side.

With coupons and sales, you can usually buy BBQ very inexpensively or even free. But you can always make your own as well.

Not Soggy Nachos are perfect for this time of year when chip sales are in abundance. Serve cooked beans, taco meat or shredded chicken, and a variety of toppings. Encourage each kid to fill his bowl with whatever goodies he likes and serve with a plate of chips on the side. No utensils necessary as the chips serve as scoopers.

This is a great meal for parties and get togethers, whether as a main dish or just a DIY appetizer. And it’s quick to pull together for lunch any old day.

These easy lunches please kids of all ages at my house.

What do you like to serve in summertime?

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Comments

  1. Great tips! I love that plate on the top! I am going to try it! Thanks!

  2. I pack slices of apples and oranges frequently. And I’ve found that if I mix them together in the same container I don’t need to bother with lemon juice to keek the apples from browning. I guess enough of the juice from the orange slices rubs off.

  3. you always have the best tips. My girls are only 5 months but I’m taking notes from you already b/c I know it’ll help out in the long run. I wish I was as creative and level headed as you are. My twins definitely get me rattled sometimes.

    • Jessica Fisher says:

      @Kristen@ hope abound, I always wanted twins and then once the newborn came I realized God’s wisdom. I think you’re doing just great! Two at a time is hard to handle! I can only imagine….

  4. Awesome ides!!

  5. I love the face! My mom used to make my breakfast into a face by using a pancake as the head, grapes for eyes, a strawberry for the nose, bacon for the mouth and hashbrowns for the hair.

    In the summertime, we eat a lot of antipasto and the like. My son loves hummus, so he and I eat that with veggies a lot. I also make a lot of mini pizzas on English muffins or flatbread in the toaster oven.

  6. I love the snacky lunches and the smoothies. (Are those Avent bottle containers you have the stored in? brilliant!)

    Great lunch ideas. I do alot of frozen stuff for lunch and then bake it- chicken nuggets, fish fillets, tator tots with cheese, etc. Then I always pair it with fruit.

    Love your lunch ideas!

    • Jessica Fisher says:

      @Crystal & Co, LOL, no, those are Ball canning/freezer jars. But someone else said they look like breast milk storage containers. They must look really similar. Too funny!

  7. I love the freezer smoothie idea. We make smoothies every day, and usually freeze any leftovers as popsicles. I’ll have to look for some of those jars for picnics and playground days. Great idea!

    I do a lot of freezer cooking too — one of my favorites is freezer fajitas. Same principle as your burritos, only with sauteed seasoned red and green peppers, onions, cheese, and chicken or beef. Fold in a taco-shape in the tortilla, wrap in saran, and put in a big freezer bag. Voila.

    Breakfast burritos also freeze really well, and are good for on-the-go breakfasts. Same principle, just add some scrambled eggs with the other ingredients. I also love to make egg sandwiches on english muffins, with cheese and bacon, and freeze those too.

  8. When you thaw your burritos for chimichangas, do you heat them, then grill them or just grill them? I was concerned about them heating thru before the outside got too crispy! Thanks!

    • Jessica Fisher says:

      I have thawed them if I’m going to crisp them, otherwise we nuke them and eat as burritos. I’ve baked them, too.

  9. Those are some great ideas. Thanks for sharing.

  10. We just had ‘Not-so-Soggy’ nachos last night and it was a hit! I seem to always struggle with lunch for the boys. Thanks for the tips!

  11. Thanks for all the great tips! I’m always looking for ways to get out of cooking during these hot summer months!

  12. AllieZirkle says:

    Love the face! That’s super cute. “the bane of picky children everywhere” I always wondered if it was bane or vain or… Good to know :)

    We are out of almost all easy foods. This am I poached eggs and served on toast that had been spread with cream cheese lol We’re out of butter and not buying any until we’ve moved.

  13. elizabeth says:

    Love the freezer smoothie idea. We go thru ALOT of smoothies here and it’s nice to know they can be made ahead. My kids love a “snacky” lunch – I don’t get it. LOL. We do english muffin pizzas too, which I like ;)

  14. I was just thinking this morning that I need some new lunch ideas for me and my 10-year old. By July, mac and cheese and sandwiches are starting to get a little old. Thanks for the fun ideas. Now, I just need to implement them. :)

  15. Thank you!!!!!! :)

  16. I love the freezer smoothie idea! Yum!

  17. LOVE these ideas! Thanks!

  18. I just have one extra help I discovered: If you pack orange slices with your apple slices, the oranges do the work of lemon juice to prevent the apples from browning. And our family thinks orangey-apples taste a bit better than lemony-apples.

  19. I love the idea of freezing your smoothies! Any idea on how long that will keep? I’ve never done it. We love drinking smoothies around here, but frankly, I hate cleaning the blender each time to make it!

    Also, I always pour a little bit of orange juice on our sliced apples. I usually don’t have lime juice around here, and the o.j. seems to work just as well.

  20. Shawnna says:

    Thanks for such great lunch ideas. Lunch can get boring rather quickly!
    I was wondering…when you do freezer burritos does the tortilla get soggy during thawing/microwaveing??

  21. Janet Stewardson says:

    Great ideas and I love your blog but the light coloured print in your titles is very difficult to read.

    • Jessica Fisher says:

      Thanks for your kind words. Are you reading on a device or a computer screen? Often it’s the devices that show the colors in a weird way.

  22. Heather says:

    I boil mac n cheese noodles, add dash of blue foid color, cut half a hot dog into “legs” and microwave (you can boil them)the legscurl up and look like tentacles! Plop your octopus on the mac n chesse tada!

  23. In the summer, we can almost live off of tomato and bacon biscuits/sandwiches.

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