Camp Lunch Recipes and Ideas


Last week I let out a huge sigh of relief as I packed my final lunches of the school year. I actually love making school lunch, but there was something extremely satisfying knowing that there was one less thing to manage on my nightly to-do list.

Sadly there is no rest for the weary. Almost as soon as school ends, camp begins and that means more nightly or early morning lunch making. While in many ways lunch is the same no matter whether it's eaten in the cafeteria or the mess hall, watching Kenya devour three helpings of dinner one night last week made me realize that differences do exist. For starters, while at school kids primarily sit indoors all day at a desk, at summer camp they spend the better part of their day outside in the hot sun swimming, running around, and generally taking part in hard core active play. Burning all those extra calories can make your little one pretty ravenous.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when planning the midday meal these next fee months_

Stay cool- In most parts of the country it gets seriously hot outside. For reasons of both taste and food safety, keeping your child's lunch cool is essential. An ice pack is great but Chloe adores these squeeze pouches from Ella's Kitchen which I freeze and use as edible ice packs -- by the time they defrost they're a refreshing mid day treat.

These reusable, sweat-free ice packs from Kids Konserve are another great choice.

Pump up the volume- This is the time of year to consider upping the amount of food you pack, especially if your child is extremely active. I'm loving this Planet Box because of its large compartments as well as these Lap Top Lunches reusable containers which you can stack in a either a lunch bag or in this box and put it in this cute carry bag.

Liquid assets- Make sure to pack lots of liquids so your little one stays well hydrated. Whether you pick good ol' water, coconut water (which is extremely hydrating), or even a reusable bottle filled with herbal tea, healthful liquids are a must for your little one.

So smooth- If you want to make sure your child heads out every morning with all the nutrients needed to get their day started, nothing beats a nice cool smoothie like this vitamin packed one.

If you're feeling in a lunch time rut and want daily inspiration throughout the summer you can follow me on my latest obsession Instagram and look for #camplunch on twitter too.

If you have other suggestions, recipes, or cool ideas for camp lunch I would love for you to leave me a comment below!

Sushi Sandwiches

Banana Dog Bites

Grilled Cheese and Pickle Panini

Banana Cream Cheese Sammie



The Amazing Veggie Packed Sandwich

Cucumber Salad

Cheesy Corn sliced off the cob

Veg-Wee Dip

Avocado Hummus

Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

Whole Wheat Cheddar Crackers

Sunflower Butter Bran Muffins

Baked Blueberry Doughnuts

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Hi, I’m Catherine. Mama of three. A Kentucky girl living in California. Here’s what I know: all kids can be great eaters and mealtime must be easy. My passion is creating simple, healthy recipes that can be enjoyed by the whole family.

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  • Cathy Pollak Noble Pig

    Thank you! I have been complaining about summertime lunch so this is helpful!

    leave a comment

  • Cassie

    I LOVE making my lunches in my PlanetBox. I have posted on my Facebook Page the lunches that I have made for my daughter this year, hopefully you can get some inspiration as you have given me TONS throughout the years! :)

    leave a comment

  • Jackie Domestic Fits

    This is so helpful, Catherine. My daughter starts preschool next month and I'm at such a loss for what to pack. But I think between you and Lisa (100 days) I feel much better about tackling this!

    leave a comment

  • Tracy

    These ideas are adorable but very \"allergen\" heavy. Any ideas that are dairy and egg free?
    Just found out our toddler has allergy to both. I'm desperate for food ideas for this already-picky eater

    leave a comment

    • Catherine

      Here are lots of dairy free recipes! Usually when a recipe calls for milk or butter you can substitute your favorite alternative like almond or rice milk! And all these recipes are egg free:

      leave a comment

  • Kate Savour Fare

    Thing 1's camp (Tom Sawyer) requires sack lunches only, so the kids don't have to keep track of their lunch boxes. I think she's getting PB&J for 3 weeks straight. (She's not starting until August) since she's otherwise a mayo lover (that's my girl!) and I'm nervous about mayo in all that heat. Love the idea of freezing the pouches -- we like the ones from Trader Joe's, too.

    leave a comment

  • Gabs

    Finally - a packed lunch post with food a child will actually eat (check out epicurious's list of kid friendly stuff for a laugh). Thank you, thank you, thank you!!

    p.s. grilled cheese with pickles?!? GENIUS!

    leave a comment

  • Vanessa

    I would love to know what some of the other items are in the original daily email photo! Everything looks so fabulous. Also, what kind of lunch box is that?

    leave a comment

    • Catherine

      This is a Planet Box lunchbox!

      leave a comment

  • Corrie


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  • Brooke

    with your school lunches... how do you keep your avocado from browning? And how do you heat them up?

    leave a comment

    • Catherine McCord

      Lunch is served at room temp. I pack an ice pack to keep everything at a safe temperature, but lunch is not heated up!

      leave a comment

  • Imbrycesmum

    are all of your lunch recipes ok to eat cold?

    leave a comment

    • Catherine McCord

      Yep! I pack an ice pack in lunch and lunch is served at room temp!

      leave a comment

  • Katie

    I also need ideas for a disposable sack lunch. I'm concerned about sending meats, mayo,ect without an ice pack. My son is totally over eating PB&j!! Any ideas???

    leave a comment

    • Stargazer

      Meats and mayo in sandwiches have been packaged in paper bag lunches (and tin pails!) for over 200 years - I don't remember reading about any food poisoning if common sense is applied.

      leave a comment

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