Make-Ahead Summer Lunch Idea for Kids: Try a Grazing Tray!

Family-FriendlyLunchSnackKid-friendlyQuick and Easy

Need a quick, fun way to feed your kids this summer? Mix it up with grazing trays! We have three setups—one for breakfast, one for lunch, and one for movie night—for healthy, hands-off ways to keep your kids fed this summer!

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Photography Credit: Claudia Cash

Oh, summertime. I love you and your relaxed schedules, lazy days, and abundance of fresh fruit. However, I do have one small problem.

It’s nearly impossible to get breakfast and lunch on the table.

It’s not you, it’s us. Because our routines have gone out the window, and we come and go as we please, we’re all hungry at different times. And let’s face it… I’d rather spend my time outside reading a book, basking in the warm sun than planning three meals a day. I can do dinner, but the other two meals are a free-for-all.

So, summertime, here’s how I think we can fix this problem. GRAZING TRAYS. I’ll prep ingredients once a week, put them on a tray, and let my kids have at it whenever they want and whenever our schedule allows.

WHAT ARE GRAZING TRAYS?

These mini grazing trays came together when I was trying to break up the boredom of summer lunches.

Summer had just begun, but we’d been at home for over three months due to social distancing, and we were all bored of the same old things.

I initially tried putting individual foods in each well of a muffin tin, but cutting everything down to the perfect size was hard. It was a little too measured for my liking, and I couldn’t imagine doing it day after day.

While browsing around Target, the inspiration struck when I saw these quarter baking sheets. Not only are they perfect for mini grazing trays, but I started dreaming of personal sheet pan pizzas, mini slab pies, having my kids make giant cookies, and even sheet pan pancakes. I knew these would be a great addition to my kitchen so I picked one up for each of my kids.

Now, thanks to grazing trays, my kids get delicious food; they’re more willing to eat it because it’s plated differently, and I don’t have to worry about making sure everyone is fed properly.

Three baking trays for kids lunch ideas. Each tray has a different type of food on it. The lower tray has popcorn, chips and chocolate covered oranges on it. The tray on the right has vegetables, cheese, crackers and fruit with a dip. The tray on the left has mini pancakes, strawberries and egg bites with maple syrup.

HOW TO PUT TOGETHER A KIDS’ GRAZING TRAY

Putting together a grazing tray is simple. Your kids can even help you with their own tray! All you need to do is get out your ingredients, chop a little here, cut a little there, and place it on the tray. In case you’re still nervous, here are a few tips:

  1. Present the food in a fun way. Think of different ways to present your food. Somehow cutting cheese into triangles instead of squares is a miracle worker! For my breakfast grazing tray, I made mini pancakes with my mini doughnut maker. I also made protein-packed eggs bites with a silicone mold for easy eating.
  2. Line the pan with parchment paper for easy cleaning.
  3. Stick with three to five different items, arranged artfully. For the grazing trays, you don’t need too many foods. Place your first item on the tray in two to three different places. Add your next item or two, and place it next to the first item. There’s no magic number and no magic way to do this. Just do as much as your heart desires!

I assemble these trays in the morning and leave them in the fridge for the kids to snack on during the day. If there are leftovers at the end of the day, store them separately in airtight containers, then bring them out on the tray again the next day.

WHAT TO SERVE ON A KIDS’ GRAZING TRAY

I decided on three grazing trays that are now my summer staples: a breakfast grazing tray, a lunch grazing tray, and a movie snack tray. Stay away from foods that brown easily like bananas and apples, because these trays are meant to be left out for a while.

Quick kids lunch ideas set on a baking tray. Strawberries, egg bites and baked mini pancakes are arranged on the tray. Mapple syrup is in the corner of the tray.

BREAKFAST GRAZING TRAY

I struggle with breakfast on a good day, so summer is really hard for me! But, if I spend a few minutes each week prepping food, I can get my family started off on the right track each day. What else would you serve?

Cheese, crackers, lunch meat and dip are on a piece of parchment set on a baking tray. Vegetables and cheese are to the left of the tray.

LUNCH GRAZING TRAY

I went for the classic meat and cheese tray, but it can easily be mixed up! Here are some other foods that would be fun to serve:

Kids lunch ideas with popcorn, chips and chocolate covered oranges on a baking tray.

MOVIE SNACK TRAY

Because we are still in quarantine, we have turned to family movies on the weekends. It’s been fun to get in our pjs, pop some popcorn, and snuggle up.

But now that we are three months into quarantine, I’m having to reinvent the wheel a little bit, and this movie snack tray is the way to go.

I made my caramel corn (which is made with only coconut oil, pure maple syrup, and a little salt) which my kids devoured. (P.S. This is my favorite method for popping corn!) I also wanted some fruit, so I dipped Cutie oranges in chocolate and sprinkled them with a little salt. I’ve made this for years, and my kids never get tired of it!

Instead of munching on potato chips, I bought some sweet potato chips that we all love. You could get any movie snack you’d like and put it on this tray, really. The sky is the limit.

My kids get really excited when I change things up even just a little bit.

These grazing trays are a fun and easy way to make memories, so let’s get grazing!

Quick kids summer lunch ideas on a plate. Baked mini pancakes, egg bites, chopped strawberry and chocolate covered oranges are on the plate.

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Claudia Cash

Claudia is the Community Manager for Simply Recipes, and finds joy building relationships with our readers through Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. As the mother of 5 girls, she is passionate about family dinner and having that time together every day to connect with those we love, even if it's over toast and eggs.

More from Claudia

2 Comments

No ImageMake-Ahead Summer Lunch Idea for Kids: Try a Grazing Tray!

  1. Kate

    Ok, don’t judge! First thing I thought when I saw these was ,”Happy Hour” with the girls….must be the sign of the times! Great idea and can be tailored to every occasion!

  2. Lin

    I used to do something very similar for my kids with fresh veggies for the afterschool/before dinner munchies. Worked really well. Used cereal bowls instead of tray. Love the movie night tray!

Three baking trays for kids lunch ideas. Each tray has a different type of food on it. The lower tray has popcorn, chips and chocolate covered oranges on it. The tray on the right has vegetables, cheese, crackers and fruit with a dip. The tray on the left has mini pancakes, strawberries and egg bites with maple syrup.Make-Ahead Summer Lunch Idea for Kids: Try a Grazing Tray!