Now that back to school is full swing, I wanted to share some ideas for school lunches. Packing lunches can be a daunting task, but it is important to get your kids in the habit of planning and preparing, which is the foundation of life-long healthy eating habits.
But let’s get real for a second. If you are a parent, you know how picky kids can be. And on top of that they LOVE to snack! Trying to get my kids to eat one full meal is about as fun as watching paint dry. So why not apply that same principle to school lunches! Instead of worrying about one big meal item, pack lots of little things for them to munch on AND fill up their little tummies. Below are several plant based lunch ideas you can mix and match to get you started this school year.
Whole wheat tortilla with nut/seed butter. Spice it up with some granola and banana slices! FYI granola is super easy to make at home!
Make your own trail mix. Either make at home the night before, or pack all the ingredients and have your kiddo put together at lunch time. Don’t be afraid to add some vegan dark chocolate chips in there…yum!
Home-made cashew cheese. Serve with veggie of choice, such as cucumber, and whole wheat crackers. Cashew cheese is a simple recipe to make at home, and is way better than the processed non-dairy cheeses you buy at the store.
Breakfast foods. I’m sure you’ve heard of breakfast for dinner, but how about breakfast for lunch! I try to make a family breakfast every Sunday, so I’ll usually make extra pancakes or French toast to pack in my son’s lunch. PS. There are some really great, plant based pancake and French toast recipes out there.
Pasta with veggies. Who doesn’t love a good pasta! Especially the twisty kind (kids love fun shapes). Let your kids pick out the shape of pasta they want and add some frozen peas (peas will thaw overnight or over the course of the day), and voila!
Stuffed Pita. Pitas are fun for kids (well anyone really!), and can be packed with pretty much any healthy food you choose. Try stuffing a whole wheat pita with some halved grape tomatoes, shredded lettuce, and plant based “meat”, mashed beans, or hummus.
Fruit salad. Instead of just throwing a piece of fruit in all the time, why not have your kids choose a few fruits to combine for a mini fruit salad! It just mixes things up a bit rather than always throwing a singular fruit in their lunchbox.
Home-made Nutella. I came across a vegan Nutella recipe that I printed out a couple years ago, brushed the dust off it, and finally made it. Talk about an easy recipe! And soooo good! Serve a side of that with some graham crackers and apple slices and it’s sure to be a hit!
Celery with nut/seed butter and raisins. Who can forget about the very popular “ants on a log”. Even as an adult I still indulge on this classic snack. On top of being delicious, it’s super fun for kids to put together.
Protein balls. There are more recipes for protein balls out there than you can make in a life-time. Not only are they a super filling snack, but fun for kids to help make in the kitchen.
Smoothie. This is a great way to get fruits and vegetables all in one shot. Make the smoothie the night before or the morning of and put it in a high quality thermos. As a side-note, I often make smoothies the night before and store in the fridge overnight. They are always fine the next day; just need a little shake.
Home-made muffins or breads. Buying muffins or flavored breads at the store usually equates to a lot of unnecessary refined sugar. Take some time over the weekend to make a batch or 2 of some muffins or breads. It really doesn’t take that long, and it’s a good time to spend bonding with your kids.
Roasted chickpeas. Getting kids to eat beans can be quite the task. That is why I love roasted chickpeas! Toss them in seasoning or home-made sauce, roast them, and you have a delicious, crunchy snack!
Chocolate avocado pudding. Non-dairy puddings are the bomb. Seriously, they are so delicious, and easy to make! Easy recipes are key when we are talking about busy family life. Chia pudding is also an option here, but if your kids have a texture issue, then it’s best to stick with the smoother consistency of the avocado pudding.
As a busy mom of 2 young boys, I understand that life gets hectic. Preparing lunch can take some extra time, but is a great habit to get into, and is a good opportunity to spend time with your children teaching them to prepare healthy foods. If you haven’t guessed, kids LOVE to help out in the kitchen. And being involved in meal preparation heightens excitement for the meal as well, making them more likely to eat it.
Have a lunch idea not mentioned above that’s a hit with your kiddos? Comment below! I’d love to hear!