10 Big-Batch Summer Camp Lunch Box Ideas

updated Jul 3, 2019
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Congratulations! You survived 180 days of school lunches this year! And now you get to turn around and do all that lunch packing again for summer camp. Summer camp lunches offer a little more fun and flexibility, though — especially if you have half-day campers who get to eat lunch when they get home (packing their lunch in advance is still helpful most days). Here are 10 of our favorite lunch box recipes that are perfect for camp lunches.

We love these wrap-like quesadillas for their ability to keep hungry campers full. While these are best warm, they still taste great at room temperature or cold, so don’t let the melty cheese steer you away from this one.

During Sunday meal prep make a big batch of this pesto chicken and you can turn it into lunches all week. Wrap in tortillas, serve over pasta salad, or just throw into a sandwich.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

Pretty sure my kids are like 60% pasta salad by weight at the end of summer. But since they love it and we can mix up the veggies every week and make big batches of this ahead, it is a winner for camp lunches.

Yes, I am asking you to turn on the oven for these muffins! I promise lunch box muffins will be worth a little sweat when you can pull a few from the freezer in July and give your hungry camper lunch on the fly.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

Think of this as a very upgraded pasta salad — rice noodles get some fresh vegetables and super-flavorful chicken — all of which taste delicious cold. If you plan to make this beauty ahead, make sure you dress the noodles in a little sesame oil or a flavorful dressing to keep them from sticking to each other.

Credit: Lauren Volo

Here is a completely fresh way to serve pasta in a lunch box: couscous with shrimp and fresh peas. When the tiny window of fresh peas at the market closes, don’t hesitate to swap them out for chopped snap or snow peas or even thinly sliced radishes.

Lunch box buns are basically Hot Pockets that got that a homemade glow-up. Got an asparagus-hater? Any vegetable can be swapped in instead, but I’m thinking broccoli or even pickled vegetables would taste delicious too.

Tortellini as pasta salad fodder makes it even more filling and satisfying at lunchtime. You can swap the pesto here for Italian dressing if your first-grader, like mine, is on a green-things strike for summer.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

This summer salad is easy to make a big batch of and throw together, and you can use any herbs or spices you have on hand.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

Summer goal: Teach your kids to make this simple sandwich by themselves before school starts so that they can also pack back-to-school lunches.