What to Feed Teenage Boys to Keep Them Full and Happy

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy here.

Tomorrow my oldest turns fourteen.  FOURTEEN.  (wait- I am not old enough to have a 14 yr old!) It’s his golden birthday- 14 on the 14th in the 14th year.  How cool is that?  He is growing tall so fast and slimming down.  But not for lack of food.  That boy can EAT.  You know how you hear the people say “eating me out of house and home?”  That must’ve started from a mom of teenage boys.  Today I’ve rounded up some ideas on what to feed teenage boys to keep them full and happy.

What to Feed Teenage Boys to Keep Them Full and Happy - 20+ tips, tricks and lunch ideas www.thirtyhandmadedays.com

Here’s how it came about- I was lamenting on Instagram about the note JJ’s teacher sent home saying that he had eaten his entire lunch when he got to school first thing in the morning (and I’m not sure how that happened if they were keeping an eye on him and he had eaten a full breakfast before he got on the bus……but I regress).  His school has a strict no nut policy and that has been a huge challenge for us.  His favorite and go-to is peanut butter and jelly.  J is very particular about what he eats.  He sniffs everything and has some sensory issues.  At home we can force encourage him to try new things but at school I have no idea how much they push him to eat what he is given.  He isn’t conversational so I send things with him to school hoping that he’ll eat them and not having the ability to ask him “Hey what’d you think about lunch today?”  It’s a challenge.  So I sent out an SOS and asked people for suggestions on IG.  There were 40 comments of suggestions! Apparently I’m not the only one going broke with a growing teenage boy.  While I know Jonathan won’t eat most of the ideas given because he is so picky, I hope that rounding up the ideas here will help some families looking for ideas to keep their boys properly fed.

A few tips from that IG post to keep teenagers full longer:

  • “Eat a breakfast with lots of fiber and protein.  It will keep him full longer than cereal or breads which break down quickly and leave you feeling empty faster.”  -Seth
  • “With breakfast give a Carnation Instant Breakfast to help him fill up.”  -Rebecca
  • “Fiber is key to staying full, so use lots of that in the mornings. Popcorn is high in fiber and can fill you up as a snack food, plus it’s pennies. Smoothies can be loaded with excellent stuff for a quick and filling breakfast. Protein is overrated as a filler.. It’s necessary, but it isn’t the key! Fiber and lots of beans/rice. Wraps are my family’s favorite for delicious, nutritious, healthy, and cheap!”  – Nikita

Specific food suggestions from the post:

  • Use alternative butter instead of peanut (to keep in line with the no nut policy)- specifically sun and wow
  • Tortillas with string cheese and meat rolled up
  • Mozzarella cheese sticks with pepperoni
  • Bagels and cream cheese saved in the freezer until ready to put in lunch
  • Luna bars
  • Taco meat in a thermos with separate tortillas and cheese
  • Turkey bites (by the jerky and pizza pepperoni)
  • Homemade pizza rolls
  • Several people suggested Subway’s $4 footlongs!  (I checked and in January, any regular footlong is $5!)

Here are some other ideas I found online:
I’ve found several “cutesy” small lunch ideas, but that won’t cut it for my big boy.   These lunches pack a punch. 

Items to buy to help make school lunches:
Some of these were also suggested on Instagram.

This article from the Washington Post was recommended to me and it’s awesome: How to feed a teen boy, nutritiously and inexpensively

What a teenage boy should eat in a day - www.thirtyhandmadedays.com

Download this What Teenage Boys Should Eat in a Day sheet as a guideline.

Do you have a teenager in your life who is eating you out of house and home?  I’d love to hear what you do to keep them full and happy.  Leave me a comment with your suggestions.






  1. says

    I’m late to this party but could definitely benefit! I have 3 teenage boys and also had a son’s friend stay with us. The food that would be consumed in my house! My food budget!! Oy!

  2. Gina says

    I have a 13, 10, and 8 yo….all boys. I made and froze beef bean burritos and breakfast burritos and they about devoured them before I could freeze them….lol. I like them because they have good protein and are not processed.

  3. Bri says

    I have 5 sons and 1 baby girl. My two oldest are now teenagers, but all of these fellas have been able to eat me under the table for years now! I stopped buying cold cereal years ago…I may as well have been feeding them water; it never filled them up. We love to start our day with some variety of oats. They are relatively inexpensive and extremely filling. Steel cut oats are super easy, I bring water to a boil and add the oats and a little salt. Then I turn off the heat, put a lid on the pot and let them cook overnight. I don’t have a crockpot with a timer, so all those over-night recipes just left me with a messy crockpot of oats with burned edges. In the morning, they dish it up and throw it in the microwave to heat it. Then they add their favorite dried fruits, milk, and some brown sugar. We also add old fashioned rolled oats to our fruit smoothies, muffins, and pancake and waffle batters. To make all the cooking easier on me, I make a triple batch of pancakes or waffles and then freeze them individually before placing them in freezer bag. This way the boys can pull out their waffle or pancake, toast it up and have it with fresh fruit or syrup. I also buy sausage links in bulk and cook them up and freeze them so they can easily re-heat and eat. Finally, for breakfast, we also pre-make breakfast burritos with homemade hashbrowns (cubed not shredded) scrambled eggs, cheese, onion, and sausage or ham. Then we freeze them up for easy access later.

    For their lunches, I make half wheat/half white bread and they have tuna fish, lunch meat, chicken salad, or jam. We have a nut allergy in our home which can be tricky. We also consume an incredible amount of Jasmine fragrant rice here. The ease of throwing rice and water into a rice cooker and pressing a button is a life saver.They love to eat mounds of rice with scrambled or fried eggs and some fresh veggies like cucumber, green onion, and tomato. Or they saute some onion and frozen peas in sesame oil and then throw in left over chicken or ham with soy sauce and rice for simple fried rice.

    I have found that half the battle is having filling food on-hand that is easy prep. I could spend a fortune on pre-packaged stuff, but if I put in a little time and effort, I save hundreds on groceries. I even make my cookie dough in batches large enough to freeze 6 dozen dough balls and bake 1 dozen. This way I only have to make dough once a week, but we can have fresh one dozen fresh cookies every day after school. :)

    Well, that was a super long post…thanks for the additional ideas. I just wanted to share in case anyone reading is in my position of trying to feed and fill a house full of boys on a budget!

  4. Andrea says

    I love this!! Could you make one up for teenage girls?? My boy is only 6 so I have a while. However, my oldest girl turns 13 in 2 months.


  5. Liz says

    I have a 16 yr. almost 6 feet tall. He is hungry an hour after we eat dinner. I try to have fruits, yogurt, his favorite, top ramen, on hand at all times. In the winter, I make oatmeal over night in the crock pot. In the morning I fix bacon and egg. The challenge now is, he has become involved in wrestling after school. I try to have dinner ready when he gets done with practice. I believe that some days he has two hollow legs.

  6. RaD says

    Not a teen yet but a tween who’s fast on the road to eating lots more.

    Since it is now summer there are guidelines on what he is allowed to eat and how much. Snack foods are kept to a minimum. He’s allowed as much fruit and vegetables as he wants to eat during the day. Also don’t forget the power of milk for a filler. A glass of milk can take the edge off of the hunger making it possible to wait for the next meal.

    I also encourage him to drink a lot of water, as sometimes our tummy will rumble when we are thirsty too. It never hurts to drink some water before eating as it slows down the desire for more food (or too much!).

    Otherwise, I do a lot of things already suggested above!

  7. Diana says

    I have custody of my niece and nephew while my sister is deployed and the 12 yo eats everything in sight and he’s still underweight! Lol. I’m new to taking care of kids but if he’s like this now how is he gonna be when he actually hits his teens? Thanks for the tips!

  8. says

    Love this post! I have a 3 year old and an 8 year old, and both already eat more than me. What used to be a week’s worth of groceries now lasts us 3 days! I’m going to use this post to plan next week’s lunches :)

  9. says

    I have a 15 and 16 year old who are both competitive swimmers ( they train 10-12hrs a week), so they eat even more than normal teenagers. This is what works for me:
    Big breakfast: at least 5-6 weetbix, fruit and milo
    Lunchbox: they pack their own – much less struggles in the morning! About 6 slices of good quality bread with cheese, meat/tuna etc, fruit, yogurt and sometimes leftovers from dinner.
    When they get home after school: eggs or pasta
    Dinner after training: normal evening meal – meat & veg.
    Then they would atill complain about being hungry!

  10. Naomi says

    I have 4 boys and my older two are 8 & 10. They eat as much as a grown man. I’m scared for the teenage years. Eggs alone I can go through a whole dozen for breakfast. Thank you for this post I think it’s going to help me.

  11. says

    Ooh – this totally hits home for me! I love REAL mom posts about food and boys! My 12 year old just started making his own protein shakes for breakfast. We prepackage for the week on Sunday and he can do it all by himself in the morning. 1 scoop UMP protein, 1 T chia, 1 T hemp, 1 cup fruit (some combination of frozen banana, pineapple, berries), and powdered greens. He adds a half cup of plain greek yogurt and water. Voila! He’s full until lunchtime. Which is great because no snacks are allowed.

    Thanks again – pinning and sharing!

  12. Nheree says

    My dh is allergic to peanuts and has tried several alternatives to peanut butter but hasn’t found anything that tastes the same. We recently discovered “No Nut Butter” by The Sneaky Chef. It’s made from golden peas and contains no nuts at all but dh swears it tastes just like peanut butter. That might be a nice alternative for your son and will stay in compliance with the school’s no nut policy.

  13. Cathy says

    Teach your sons to cook simple foods. My son would come home from school starving. He learned to make cornbread and whole grain mac and cheese with veggies in it. He would help me make a big pot of vegetable/bean soup on the weekend for eating when he got home. He was never a big meat eater, so his lunches were sacks of vegetables and fruits with tree nuts like pecans for protein. Home made granola is filling, I was able to get permission for him to have some half way between breakfast and lunch at school. It is astounding how much a teen can eat. My daughter was an athlete and ate almost as much as my son. They need to learn to reject most fast food, it really isn’t filling.

  14. laurinda sermons says

    I have 5 kids 3 of which are boy (ages 2,9,9 for the boys and 6,11 for girls). The twin boys eat us out of home already. They eat as much as a teen boy now and more most days. They are very active and lean but eat like they have a hollow leg or something. We try adding a much fiber and protein in there diet and end up running into the bathroom more often and then there hungry again. Lol rice and pasta the eat a ton. We go through a 10lb bag of rice in a couple days. They eat it plain,butter,raisins ect.

  15. says

    Thank you for this list!!! I have 4 boys and while my oldest two are only 10 and 8 we go through SO much food. I had just posted in a mom group yesterday looking for some ideas for snacks that will keep my boys full since they’ll be home all day during the summer and they are always hungry. This is PERFECT! Thank you so much.

  16. Emily T. says

    Eggs, tuna sandwiches, refried beans with avocado and tortillas, and baked potatoes are standards at our house. Baked potatoes are nice because they can be topped with so many different things. They also help leftovers stretch.

  17. Alyssa says

    I love your blog!!!! I have spent quite some time on it today…lol… this is awesome to read, sometimes I wonder where my teen in packing all that food he’s eating…

  18. Monica says

    I have 3!!!! I use things like bananas, bagels, pasta (Dr’s suggestion to put some meat on their bones), pb & j, ham or turkey sandwiches, cheese, tortillas, beans, rice and potatoes, lots of fruits…especially apples and citrus (oranges, tangerines, mandarins), granola bars. I try to choose items that can easily be thrown in a back pack so they can snack on during passing periods, breaks, bus rides etc. between actual meals. An example of how my boys are eating me out of house and home….my 16 year old made 2 ham sandwiches with a side of pretzels and then ate a full dinner about an hour later!! And that’s just 1 of my 3! Lol

    • Bri says

      I have the same issue with my boys! I was raised with 4 sisters and 1 brother; and my mom would always limit our after school snacks so as not to spoil our dinner. I have learned quickly that boys are very different! My two teenagers do the same thing every day after school, they make a whole sandwich with meat, cheese, lettuce, and tomato; with some fruit and pretzels and usually a tall glass of milk and then can put away their entire dinner 2 hrs later! Incredible! With 5 sons, I am in some real trouble! ;)

  19. says

    Thank you for sharing this. I have a fifteen year old son. He is always hungry! I never knew they needed that many calories!

  20. Jen says

    Thanks for this! I had three sons in three years. They are not yet teens (6, 5, & 3) but they are already eating me out of house and home! I’m dreading my grocery bills in 10 years! I’m going to save all these suggestions for future reference!

    • says

      You’re so welcome! The teenage years are going to be expensive at your house Jen. ;) But knowing that now, maybe you can prepare and save. Best of luck to you with your family! (and I feel like if you made it through toddler years with three kids in 3 years, you are so ahead of the rest of us! ;))

  21. Kristyn says

    Great suggestions – thanks, Mique… I feel like Gav, who is 4, eats like this already – lol!!

    • says

      I hear ya Kristyn. Julia eats like this too. JJ has always eaten a ton but recently took it to a whole.new.level. It’s crazy!

    • says

      You’re so welcome Kelly. I need to get my hands on some of your lunchboxes. Thanks for including my post on your post! You are awesome.

    • says

      Ha! Fasten your seatbeat, it’s going to be a bumpy ride. Jk- but really, knowing that they are hungry all.the.time. helps. ;) Refer to this when you get there. Thanks Marcy!

  22. Katie k says

    My 14y.o. was refusing to take lunch to school!!! His school has different stations to choose from and more often then not he chose the salad bar. Awesome choice but he would come home starving!!! I finally convinced him to let me pack one of those plastic sandwich holders with some additional foods!!! I don’t pack anything that needs refrigeration so he can just toss it in his backpack. Having this extra stash of food has really helped sustain him all day. Some days he still has food left so he just finishes that off when he gets home. I like knowing he has some healthy snack options, he likes that he still gets the freedom of choosing his lunch at school!

    • says

      That is awesome Katie! My son actually likes salad too. It’s just hard to pack for lunch. Sounds like you figured out a good system! Thanks for the comment.

  23. says

    Wow thank you so much for including links to my blog – so sweet of you! My oldest son is turning 12 in March so I get what a great post this is! My oldest is a 16 year old daughter! I’m going to look you up on IG! :)

  24. Karen says

    My husband has always been a picky eater and is constantly in a hurry. For breakfast, the night before I make a burrito with eggs, cheese, whole beans and a meat, wrap it in a paper towel and put in zip lock bag, then into the fridge. Take out of fridge and nuke for 13 to 15 per side and a good breakfast.

    I do chicken, turkey, ham or roast beef sandwiches with lots of additions for lunch. I prefer wraps, they stay together better and are a different twist to bread.

  25. Melissa-in-NJ says

    I am so here! At 12 and 15, if it’s not nailed down, my boys will eat it! My older one has been eating that way since he was about 7! I find the more protein I can get into them, the better. When a friend told me years ago that she serves dinner when the kids get off the bus, I laughed. But now we eat really early — like 4:30 — because they want a meal NOW, lol. I’ve had to steer them away from crackers — or maybe add cheese or peanut butter to them — as snacks. It’s hard to strike a balance as my older one has a huge metabolism but my younger WANTS to eat like his brother but he has weight issues. I try to steer him away from carbs or at least make sure the carbs have fiber or protein accompanying. It’s tough!!

    • says

      I say- do what works! We eat dinner at 5pm every day (partially because of scheduling and partially because everyone is famished around then!). It’s hard having kids with 2 types of metabolism. We have that here too- my youngest is very thin and eats a bunch. My oldest is not (but he eats a bunch too! Obviously). Thanks for the comment and best of luck with your boys.

  26. says

    Many of my friends have warned me about this increased eating habit when my boys hit their teenage years! i think this is going to be really helpful when that time comes (which I’m not asking to come any time soon). My boys are only 5 and 6, but I’m sure the years will just fly on by without me knowing. Thank you for sharing!

    • says

      Yes the years will fly by Calia. I can’t believe I have a 14 yr old. Time moves seems to move in warp speed these days. I hope you find this helpful in the future. Thanks!

  27. says

    Oh, how I can relate to teen boys and their appetites! My 15 and 13 yo sons are eating us out of house and home! LOL

    Thank you for the tips and ideas, and the printable. I just printed so we can talk with the boys about what they should eat to make those tummies stay fuller longer.

    • says

      Hi Amanda- I knew that there was a stereotype for teenagers eating a lot but I had no idea. And the info that I found while researching is nuts- that’s a lot of food to consume! Glad you found this helpful. xo

  28. Desiree says

    I have faced the nut challenge with my formerly-picky eater at camp and such. Sunflower seed butter is a great alternative, definitely.

    Mine is now 17 (!) and I definitely knew he was constantly hungry but I wasn’t aware of JUST how many calories he needs, wow! And I probably let him get away with less milk than he ought to have, and I know his dad does. Thanks for the tips!

    I mostly make him omelettes and bacon or a smoothie with hemp protein, yogurt, frozen fruit and a little agave for breakfast… thankfully he has microwave access so I can send him with leftovers because school lunch is still a challenge. He recently started eating meat, so the cafeteria is a (poor, sadly) option now. Dinners, I do a lot of pasta (white fiber)- carbonara (his fave), or homemade pesto, huge portions, always with added veg and another veg on the side– salad or pepper strips… mexican food can also be made in great quantity with lots of veggies… I definitely let him have sweets and fried treats and pizza fairly regularly because we eat so healthfully the rest of the time and he’s in no danger of being overweight, at about 6’2″/170… in fact now I will be making more of an effort to have more around and not be surprised that he’s “hungry again already!?” – Thanks!

    • says

      I will definitely try sun butter- thank you Desiree. All of your tips and food ideas are fantastic. Happy to pass on the info to you! I was shocked at how much they actually require as well. Best to you and your son!

    • says

      Thanks Amy! That’s how all my kids are too. Siiiigh. Someday I will have groceries that last more than 3 days at a time.

    • says

      I hear you Desi. JJ has always been an eater. I didn’t think it was possible for him to consume any more than he already was. I WAS WRONG. ;) Keep this post tucked away for the next few years! xo