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Easy Summer Lunches for Kids

These ideas for easy summer lunches for kids come together quickly and can help prevent you from spending hours in the kitchen so you can enjoy the summer weather and summer activities!

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Summer break is finally approaching. For us, it means more time outside, beach days, play dates at the park, and pool fun.

I love to cook, but on a beautifully sunny day, it’s hard to be cooped up in the kitchen. I’ll often rely on many of these easy ideas when you don’t know what to eat for some inspiration.

These easy summer lunches for kids can help keep those busy kiddos fed and nourished while minimizing your time in the kitchen.

cooking with toddler in toddler helper

Tips for Making Summer Lunches for Kids

It seems like when school is out, we lose sight of our normal routine and everyone is hungry ALL THE TIME. We get one meal cleaned up, and it’s time for the next.

Truthfully, even I don’t want to meal prep – especially with younger kids. I want to be making memories! If we’re out on the trail, you bet we’re packing some of our favorite hiking snacks for kids!

So, here are some tips to to help keep your summer meals for kids light, fun and healthy.

Try to Stick To a Routine

As difficult as it may be (you may just randomly decide to go to the pool!), having some sort of eating routine helps so kids know a general sense of when to expect meals.

Plus, it can help with them eating more at meals and less at snacks if kids know what to expect for meal times and when to expect them.

If you won’t be at home, taking these summer lunches on the road is a great strategy!

Sweet Potato Veggie Tots with ketchup on baking sheet | Bucket List Tummy

Add In Some Fun

Sure, there’s nothing wrong with sandwiches or boxed mac and cheese, but it’s good to mix it up.

I recently posted several lunch ideas that aren’t sandwiches, but today, I wanted to focus on the summer meals for kids – because we can make nutritious lunches on these warm days.

When raising intuitive eaters, you want to feel hopeful that they’ll eat what you eat. That includes salads, shrimp tacos, and other “grown-up” lunches, etc.

But let’s be honest – even as an adult, you don’t want a salad or the same sandwich every day. We need new ideas and fun ones!

snack plate with fruits, veggies, chips

Remember, kids are still young, and their meal etiquette may not be that of an adult’s, nor should it be!

You can incorporate some of these food activities for toddlers and have fun with lunch.

Make a face on a plate, let them try several new dips, add a fun treat to their plate – these are just some of many ideas you can utilize to spice up your lunch schedule.

My kids have always loved making a kid-friendly cheese plate with pretzels, olives, hummus and pepperoni.

Incorporate Summer Produce

We’ve become accustomed to having most fruits and vegetables available to us year-round. But certain things just scream, “Summer!”

Foods like watermelon, beets, strawberries, blueberries, green beans, cherries, corn, and tomatoes come down in price when they’re in season in the summer months.

You can likely find these locally or at your local farmers market. Plus, when they are grown locally, the nutrient density is better because it is fresher.

Maybe you can even pick some of your own berries or local produce!

overhead final view of gluten free fruit pizza with greek yogurt frosting on pie plate | Bucket List Tummy

Summer produce is a great way to get nutrients into your hungry and growing kiddos. It tastes better when it’s in season.

I love to stock my fridge with in-season fruits and veggies. And while I enjoy fresh salads with the produce, I try to find different uses for the kiddos.

With a little prep up front, my kids get a nutritious side that comes together in minutes on a warm sunny day.

Plus, if you’re serving to babies, just make sure to cut things appropriately or try some of these lunch ideas for 12 month olds!

Here are some summer staples to keep on hand for those healthy summer snacks for kids.

  • Melon: Cantaloupe, watermelon, or honeydew melon are all refreshing and hydrating—perfect for those hot summer days. Here are some creative ways to eat watermelon.
  • Berries: Summer berries are so sweet! Some people like to wash and thoroughly dry berries before storing them in the fridge. But it’s recommended that you wait until you’re ready to eat them to wash them to make them last longer.
  • Green beans: I can get large bags of green beans from the farmer’s market and they’re super affordable. My kids like to snack on them raw, but my favorite way to prep them as air fryer frozen green beans.
  • Tomatoes: Nothing tastes better than a tomato in season—especially sweet and juicy grape or cherry tomatoes. They are an easy veggie to plate for kids.
  • Cucumbers: Crisp and crunchy, cucumber slices can be added to a lunch meal for extra hydration.
  • Stone fruits: Fruits like peaches, plums, and nectarines are more abundant in the summer season.
  • Bell peppers: Sliced bell peppers add a pop of color to your child’s plate, and they are up there with citrus fruits in their vitamin C content.

Here are some other recipes the whole family can enjoy that incorporate these summer foods:

Incorporate Easy Lunches Kids Can Make

As your kids get a little older, it’s nice to have ingredients on hand for them to whip up a lunch themselves – things like deli meats, chicken salad, tuna salad, a prepared cool pasta salad, etc.

A fun and easy way for your kiddo to get creative at mealtime is for them to make their own snack plate.

kids lunch box with crackers, cheese, fruit and oatmeal bites

Using a plate or a muffin tin, they can add a variety of foods they like. Encourage them to round out their snack plate with different nutrients.

I like to do this for a picnic lunch!

Besides fresh seasonal produce and whole grains, like crackers, you’ll want them to add some protein.

toddler snack plate on muffin tray

Have protein foods like hard-boiled eggs, rotisserie chicken, deli meat, hot dogs, black beans, cheese stick, yogurt, cottage cheese, nuts and seeds, or legumes on hand.

Here are some ideas that kids may be able to make themselves.

Easy to Pack Lunches for Kids

Headed to the beach, park, or pool? Packing a lunch is a great way to save money and serve something nutritious to your kids.

If you have a cooler and an ice pack, you can bring several fun lunches on-the-go.

First, there are bento box lunches. Much like the snack plate, you can pack your kids a little buffet of foods in a bentgo lunchbox.

toddler bentgo lunch box

Wraps, sandwiches, and pita pockets are easy to prep ahead and pack with you. You can also bring cold pasta salads, cherry overnight oats, green salads, or yogurt parfaits.

These delicious Taco Beef Sushi rolls are fun for kids to make and eat—and take only 10 minutes to prepare.

Easy Summer Lunch Ideas for Kids

Finally, I’ve got some RD-approved recipes that can act as kid lunch ideas for summer.

Easy Summer Lunches for Kids

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