Summer Camp Lunches: 5 Different Ways


Despite the cold weather we have had, summer is approaching quickly and that means planning for camps. One of the tasks that comes with sending kids to day camp is packing lunches. We hope to ease some of that burden by providing you some ideas. Each idea meets a different need and will provide you with some different ideas of lunches to pack.

What should lunch include?

It is important for parents to pack a balanced lunch that provides a variety of nutrients for a long day of activities. Lunch should include a source of protein as this will sustain your child longer. Examples of protein sources include yogurt, lunch meat, canned beans, cheese, nut butters, and hard-boiled eggs. It is important to try to include fruits and vegetables. This will help provide essential vitamins and minerals as well as fiber which will also help your child feel fuller. Lastly, include grain for quick energy. Whole grain products are preferable (first ingredient is a whole grain). Suggestions for whole grain products to include are whole grain muffins, whole grain crackers, tortilla chips, whole wheat bread for sandwiches, or a whole grain tortilla wrap.

Nut Free Lunch

For kids with nut allergies and for those children who have a lunch buddy that has a nut allergy, packing a nut-free lunch is essential.

  • Ham or Turkey lunch meat rolled with cheese slices
  • Whole Grain Crackers (read ingredients to make sure they are nut free)
  • Sliced Strawberries
  • Cucumber Slices
  • Water bottle

Shelf Stable Lunch (requires no refrigeration)

Depending upon the setting of the camp there may not be refrigeration and your child may need a shelf stable lunch. Also, as kids age, they may not want to pack a lunch box and find the brown bag to be cool.

  • Beef Jerky
  • Trail Mix (Cashews, Peanuts, Almonds, and dried fruit)
  • Banana
  • Pepper Strips
  • Pretzels
  • Water Bottle

The Non-Adventurous Eater

Many times, parents of picky eaters are at a loss of what to pack for lunch. Lunchtime is not the time to become adventurous with your picky eater because they may be extra distracted, and it is easier for them to eat familiar foods.

  • Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich on whole grain bread
  • Baby Carrots
  • Apple Slices
  • Cheddar Snack Mix
  • Low-fat Milk

To get the crusts cut off the bread, try the sandwich decruster and sealer pictured below to make your own version of an uncrustable.

Breakfast for Lunch

Some kids do not like sandwiches and packing breakfast for lunch can be a good alternative.

  • Low-fat Vanilla Yogurt
  • Blueberries and Raspberries
  • Hard Boiled Egg
  • Banana Muffin
  • Water Bottle

The Hot Lunch

Does your kid prefer hot food for lunch? It may be worth it to invest in a good quality thermos that keeps food hot for at least 7 hours. Each thermos has different preparation recommendations. Some require filling it with boiling water and let it sit for 5 minutes, dump the boiling water out, and then fill with heated food. It is recommended that you pack other items that can be shelf stable with it, so the hot food does not get cold.

  • Barbecued pork- packed in a thermos per directions
  • Whole Grain Hamburger Bun
  • Cut-up Watermelon
  • Sugar Snap Peas
  • Small bag of plain popcorn
  • Water to drink

Any lunch that contains lunch meat, eggs, mayonnaise or dairy products needs to be kept cold. To keep a lunch cold, se an insulated lunch bag and 2 frozen ice packs. Sometimes a water bottle can be frozen and used as the ice pack.

Involve your child in the choosing and the packing of the lunch box. Families can set up a lunch packing station to help their child become more independent with this task.

Have a great summer and enjoy camp!



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