Vegetarian School Lunch Ideas: Back to School Has Never Been Healthier
It’s Back to School time again! If you’re wondering what to pack the kids for lunch, we’ve got some vegetarian school lunch ideas to share with you that will keep your kids bright-eyed, smiling and growing strong. They’ll have delicious food they can look forward to, and you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that the food you’re giving them is wholesome and nourishing.
What not to Pack
Looking for healthy school lunch recipes is a top priority for loving parents everywhere. In spite of the growing awareness that we need to nurture our children with the very best, we were shocked to see how many mainstream vegetarian school lunch suggestions rely heavily on highly-processed meat and cheese substitutes, many of which are made from soy. These foods – like other processed foods – are high in sodium and preservatives. You and your kids deserve better!
Packing a Better & Healthier (Vegetarian) School Lunch
Skip the processed food and focus on plant power! Pick from your child’s favorites and try to pack a rainbow of colors into every box. Make the meal as much fun as possible. For example, use a small cookie cutter on slices of cucumber and orange peppers to create vegetarian finger foods that are appealing. A small container of coconut butter with some tamari sauce makes for a fun dipping sauce for raw vegetables. And when it comes to vegetarian school lunch ideas, be sure not to forget about roasted vegetables – like sweet potato “fries” – which have a sweet flavor that appeals to kids and grown-ups alike. Explore healthy school lunch recipes and experiment. Here are some winning combinations that may appeal:
• Quinoa and mixed vegetables (Make a big pot in advance and place in small containers in freezer to defrost and use on different days.)
• Brown Rice Fusili (or other fun pasta shapes) w/ fun shaped orange, yellow, or red pepper and/or zucchini cut outs.
• Celery stalks w/ raw almond butter for dipping and a side of cooked green beans with olive oil and Herbamare® drizzled in for flavor.
• Cucumber strips (you can add some Bragg’s Liquid Aminos® for flavor). Steamed beets (cut into cubes) and raw almonds or Organic corn chips (buy organic and w/o Canola Oil).
• Ezekiel tostadas: guacamole, corn & peas w/ salsa (White Girl Salsa® is made w/o vinegar or any preservatives)
• Toased Ezekiel Buns w/ grilled Sunshine Burgers.
Check with your child’s school to see if there are any foods that are not allowed before getting too carried away with vegetarian (or any kind of) school lunch ideas. For example, many schools no longer allow peanut butter because it can trigger life-threatening allergies in so many children. Almond, cashew, and hazelnut butters can provide delicious alternatives.
What about Sandwiches in my Vegetarian School Lunches?
Sandwiches are a lunchbox staple for good reason. But, the kind of sliced and packaged bread we grew up with may not be the best choice. Try sprouted bread like Ezekiel bread, or explore gluten-free options. Rice cakes can make a good stand-in for snacks, and are especially tasty with nut butters or better combined with coconut butter and a dash of cinnamon. For your healthy school lunch recipes, some ideas include using tapenade, mashed avocado or coconut butter for creamy dressings, sauces or spreads instead of mayonnaise. Roasted squash with a dash of sea salt can be mashed and used as a spread as well and then just top off with any cooked veggies or a Portobello mushroom for the “meat” of the sandwich.
Kids will be Kids
Because we want the very best for our kids, especially where the food they put in their bodies is concerned, it can be easy to get carried away in our quest for healthy vegetarian school lunches. If your child has a severe food allergy, constant vigilance is necessary. But, for the rest of us, it’s good to do the best we can, and leave some decision-making up to them. Studies show clearly that it’s the food available at home that has the most bearing on a child’s future eating habits.