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Summer Camp Lunch Ideas

by krismkoch
easy camp lunch ideas

With Covid limiting the hours James was in school, I haven’t had to pack a lunch in over a year, and frankly, I have no idea what I’m doing. Now I get why moms on Instagram are always complaining about packing lunches and sharing what they’re feeding their kids. It is such a pain — and not something I factored in when we signed James up for summer camp. Now don’t get me wrong, there is an option to buy the lunch each day, and the menu isn’t the healthiest but it’s filled with things my kid will eat (save for grilled cheese sandwiches, which for some reason he detests). But after one day of eating the camp lunch, he came home upset because everyone else in his group had brought their lunch and he wanted mom to make his lunch too in those Bento Boxes we had for school. And so now here I am every morning, trying to get everyone dressed and fed while stressing over what I’m going to fill those little squares with and furiously googling “easy summer camp lunch ideas”. Sadly, there has not been tons written on the subjects, so alas, here I am sharing what I have found works after a few weeks on the job.

Now, it’s not just thinking up healthy lunch ideas, which can be hard enough — it’s all the restrictions. Everything has to be tree nut free, but it also has to last out in the heat. I can pack an ice pack to keep it cool, but it’s typically so hot and humid that I don’t feel good about including anything that could get yucky or make him sick from sitting out too long. I am also a little paranoid probably, but hey, this is my first rodeo. So I’ve been leaning toward putting little bits of different types of food in his lunch box each day and seeing how it goes. I love Bento Boxes (we use these nontoxic ones) because it allows me to experiment with different foods each day and I know I have like five slots to fill so it feels less overwhelming. It’s also a good opportunity to drop in some foods that James maybe hasn’t tried or historically doesn’t love to give him a chance to try it in a new setting without worrying he won’t have anything else to eat or that it’ll touch and infect another food. After a few weeks of packing lunches, I have created a solid list of easy summer camp lunch ideas, and I promise you don’t have to be a whiz in the kitchen to create them (reminder: I can’t cook).

I have a strategy that has really worked. I have a main dish and then a list of fruits and veggies I use for the 2-3 other spaces and a list of snack-y type foods I’ll use to fill out the remaining 1-2 spaces. That way I know he has a variety of foods he’ll eat and I’ve attempted to ensure a well-balanced healthy meal. So if you’re struggling with the whole camp lunch thing too, here are easy summer camp lunch ideas that I’ve found James will eat, won’t melt in the heat, and follow all the allergen rules.

Main Item

Veggie Muffin

Multigrain Waffles

Multigrain French Toast Sticks

Chicken Sticks

Sun Butter + Jelly Sandwich

Bagels + Cream Cheese

Crackers or Pita and Hummus

Turkey Sandwich

Lunch Meat + Cheese

Turkey Rolls

Quesadillas

Cream Cheese + Jelly Sandwich

Sun Butter + Apples

Ants on a Log with Sun Butter

Sesame Noodles

Butternut Squash Mac + Cheese

Chickpea Pasta

Veggie Burger (full disclosure: James has yet to eat this even with Ketchup on the side)

Spinach Tortellinis

Leftover Pizza

Yogurt + Granola

Avocado Toast

summer camp lunch ideas

Fruits and Veggies

Cut grapes (love this tool to easily cut grapes in minutes)

Apple slices

Baby carrots

Cucumber slices

Grape tomatoes

Cherries (de-pitted and cut into small pieces, which is kind of a pain but the kids love)

Clementines (I peel them and divvy them up for him and his wife will hate me for that one day)

Berry medley (I’ll do blueberries, strawberries and raspberries or blackberries depending on what I have in the fridge)

Celery and Hummus (Hummus goes in separate container because he doesn’t like it)

Sliced peaches (I take off the skin to be safe and because I also still wipe my kids’ butts)

Watermelon slices (I saw someone cut these into cute shapes and thought about doing it)

Mango slices

Cantalope and Honeydew slices

Peer Slices (again, I take the skin off)

Avocado Slices (James doesn’t eat avocado but I will pack this for Char one day)

easy summer camp lunch ideas

Sides

Annie’s Cheddar Bunnies

Annie’s Bunny Grahams

Nature’s Path Cereal

Z bars

Nature’s Bakery Fig Bars

Apple Sauce Pouches

Cerebelly Smart Bars

Trader Joe’s Organic Animal Crackers

Hippeas

Simple Mills Crackers

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