Lunchbox Ideas for Teenagers

By Zora Hughes
teen with strawberry image by Anna Chelnokova from

Teenagers are some of the pickiest eaters, and the school lunchtime can be one of the hardest times to get them to eat a well-balanced, nutritious meal. If they aren't scarfing down unhealthy cafeteria food, they're trading away Mom's boring peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Teens are much more likely to eat a lunchbox meal if it is more sophisticated than their little sister's bologna sandwich and milk.

Five Star Lunch

Surprise your teen with a gourmet lunch you would normally find at a fine dining restaurant if she appreciates finer foods. Ideas for a gourmet lunchbox include cold shrimp cocktail with cocktail sauce, a Greek salad and a gourmet sandwich with smoked ham, sun-dried tomatoes, pesto and smoked gouda. For a dessert include a European pastry such as baklava or an eclair.

Leftover Takeout Lunch

If Chinese takeout was on the menu last night, pack up the leftovers for your teen's lunch. He probably would have raided the refrigerator for it when he got home anyway. Rather than use the microwave, which often makes food lose its texture, reheat any leftover rice by sauteing it in a pan with a little oil, and heat up any meats under the broiler in the oven. Wrap hot foods in aluminum foil and place in an insulated lunchbox to keep warm. Include fresh broccoli or other vegetables in the lunchbox as well.

Bento Box Lunch

Pack your teen a bento box lunch like you'd find at sushi restaurants, with several compartments of Japanese food. Put a sushi roll in one compartment. Give her a veggie roll if she is not into raw fish. Fry shrimp in tempura flour (which you can find at any grocery store) for another compartment. Fill the other compartments with rice, chicken teriyaki, seaweed salad and fresh fruit. Include soy sauce packets and chopsticks in the lunch. You can make bento boxes for other types of food such as Italian or Mexican. Just fill the compartments with a different element of the meal.

Comfort Food Lunch

If your teen has specific favorite dishes that you make, every once in a while pack him a lunch with all of his top picks for a special treat. Even if they are not the healthiest food options such as macaroni and cheese, lasagna or bread pudding, its okay to indulge once in a while. Besides, if you made the food from scratch using fresh ingredients it's still better than the mystery meat in the cafeteria.

About the Author

Based in Los Angeles, Zora Hughes has been writing travel, parenting, cooking and relationship articles since 2010. Her work includes writing city profiles for Groupon. She also writes screenplays and won the S. Randolph Playwriting Award in 2004. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in television writing/producing and a Master of Arts Management in entertainment media management, both from Columbia College.