Packing A Vegan Lunch For Kids
How to Pack a Healthy Lunch that You Feel Good About and Your Children Actually Eat!
Lunches are such a tricky thing. On one hand, all of the children are comparing what they got in their lunchboxes (and do you really want them to be the ones with the lame lunch?). And, on the other hand, you want to send them off with something nutritious to fuel them through their day that you feel good about and that they will eat! If this is your conundrum, read on!
Mom’s Lunchbox Criteria:
it must be…
1. Be quick and easy to pack.
2. Be healthy and include fruits and/or vegetables.
3. Contain foods kids will actually eat.
The Archer Lunch Carrier is a perfect way for your kid to explain why s/he doesn’t eat animals!
Healthful Hints to Improve the Lunch Box Battles:
Get your kids involved in the shopping and/or preparation and ask what they like. Take them somewhere like Whole Foods or your local healthy grocery shop and let them pick out some healthy options for their lunchboxes. Spend some time in the produce section and let them experiment with some different fruits. If your child normally only eats apples, try the cherries if they are in season! Buy a few mangos, a box of strawberries or some clementines. These make healthy, delicious lunchbox additions as well! Encourage them to make their own decisions as to what they want to try – whether it is a new type of drink or treat. They will be much more likely to embrace it if they have chosen it. Do not, and I repeat do not, take them to a big grocery store where the aisles are lined with potato chips and cheese puffs.
Include multiple colors & textures.
When we are at a restaurant, we like a variety of colors and textures on our plates and kids are like that too! Pack a soft sandwich, crunchy carrot sticks and creamy vegan yogurt for a satisfying combo. For nursery age children, cut their sandwiches into shapes and make fun things like: ants on a log (celery filled with vegan cream cheese topped with raisons.)
Condiments are not just for grown-ups, and children love, love, love to squirt and dip things. You could include hummus or ranch dressing to dip carrots into, ketchup for a tofu dog, or even maple syrup to dip a grilled almond butter and jelly sandwich into- yum!
Leftovers are great!
Get out of the grilled daiya cheese and pb&j thinking and be experimental with what you include. Did you have grilled tofu the night before? Then wrap up the tofu in a wrap! Have pasta the night before? Include that too! You will be surprised how much more your children will enjoy their lunches, and eat them! Lunch boxes don’t have to – and shouldn’t – contain the usual sandwich every day! If you do pack a sandwich, vary the bread – serve it on whole wheat one day, a wrap the next, a pita the next and try to add vegetables such as lettuce and tomato when you can.
Last, but certainly not least, remember to always pack a treat!
When your child opens their lunchbox you don’t want them to be the only one without something to look forward to! So, make sure when you are at the grocery store with them that they pick out something that is delicious but not high in sugar, high fructose corn syrup and saturated fat! I keep a variety on hand and just vary which one I throw in their lunchboxes.
Below are some specific ideas for you:
The Cheat Sheet
Main Course (choose one):
• PB&J with a twist use almond butter & banana grilled on a whole wheat served with a side of agave (or brown rice syrup!)
• Smart Dogs in a bun or rolled up with vegan cheese in a tortilla
• Vegan Cheese Quesadillas on corn tortillas with a side of salsa
• “Perfectly Healthy” Veggie Pancakes cook it the night before and serve at dinner, then heat it up in the morning and pack it the next day (these also freeze well)
• Avocado & tomato sandwich
• “Mexican Sushi”
• Vegan chicken nuggets with organic ketchup for dipping
Snacks (choose one):
• Fruit: bananas, apples, oranges, clementines, cherries, or grapes
• Vegan Yogurt: (choose one high in acidophilis and low in sugar)
• Carrots sticks with hummus for dipping
• Celery sticks filled with vegan cream cheese
• Dried fruits (no-sugar) – raisins, apricots, bananas, papaya or mango
• Trail mix (no-sugar) – try one with Goji berries for iron and Vitamin C
• Veggie Booty (Roberts American Gourmet)
• Spelt Pretzels
• Organic “Cheese” Crackers by Eco-Planet
Treats (every lunchbox must have a treat, right!?!)
• Organic animal crackers
• Newman “Own oreo” cookies
• Late July peanut butter crackers
Drinks (choose one):
Always pack them a big bottle of water in a (reusable) bottle of their choosing and encourage them to drink it throughout the day! Opt out of the sports drink route, unless you find some without added sugar.
• Honest Kids (fun squeeze packs) comes in Tropical Tango, Goodness Grapeness or Berry, Berry Good Lemonade
• Apple & Eve All-Natural Apple Juice (box)
• Vruit Carrot Apple Juice (box)
• R.W. Kudsens Spritzers Lemonade, Red Rasberry or Grape (can- they think it is soda!)
• Vita Coco Coconut Water (box)
• Good, Old-Fashioned Water!
Good luck and good packing!